How long have you been in Cheongju, and what brought you here?
I have been living in Cheongju for three and a half years. I came to Cheongju to be closer to the Chungbuk Office of Education with the prospect of working there.
What did you do pre-Cheongju, and what do you do now?
I taught at Chungju Technical High School, an all-boys vocational high school, and Danweol Elementary School for one year. Now I work at the Chungcheongbuk-do Office of Education as the International Education Coordinator. I have been working there for the past three years.
What do you do for fun?
I actually do not have a lot of free time because I work a lot. But if I have the energy and time, I like to watch movies, play games, read, hike, and eat good food.
-EPIK and Community Programs-
We know you for taking care of all the Chungbuk EPIK teachers. How did that happen?
Chungbuk EPIK teachers all have to participate in the Regional Professional Development Program (RPDP). I volunteered as an RPDP moderator when the program first started. Taking initiative to be a leader in my community, and other factors about me, caught the previous coordinator's eye - and here I am.
I have a lot of duties beyond taking care of the Chungbuk EPIK teachers as a member of the International Education Team. I do translation work, help with projects and programs like the Cross-Cultural Awareness Program, Overseas Korean Awareness Program, the Ban Ki Moon Leadership Camp, etc. Working at the office of education has been a great learning experience because I get to do all kinds of work.
We also know you for putting together a lot of community programs, like orphanage visits.
I started as a volunteer while I lived in Chungju. The hagwon teacher who initially arranged the visits passed the responsibility on to me when they left Korea. I organized visits for a while, but it has been very difficult to juggle everything.
Actually, I would really appreciate it if someone bilingual or who can communicate in simple Korean, can take over organizing the visits. I am sure the kids and orphanage will appreciate continuing the visits - they always have.
What were your first impressions of Korea, and has that changed?
My general impressions of Korea have changed (for the better) while I have lived in Chungbuk.
I was born and raised in America, and also went to elementary school in Korea for three years. But that was a limited experience since I was so young.
I feel like I have gotten a good, well-rounded view of Korean culture while working in schools and at the office of education. But, of course, there is still an infinite number of things to learn about this country.
What are your hopes for the EPIK in the future?
My hope for EPIK teachers and all the programs I am involved with: growth. I hope that people can contribute as much as they can to English and international education in Chungbuk.
I hope that foreigners who come to work in Korea can get involved in the community either through volunteering or through picking up a hobby that is unique to Korea, like Taekwondo, pottery, traditional dance, etc.
What's your favorite time and place in Cheongju?
Fall, since the Korean fall foliage is beautiful and the weather is cooler. My favorite place in Cheongju is my apartment. It is my nice, dark, and private space.
What's something in Cheongju that everyone should do at least once?
Everyone should visit the Jikji Museum. Jikji is Cheongju's claim to fame and it is pretty legit. Jikji is the world's oldest book printed with the movable metal type in 1377--older than the Gutenberg Bible.
Any advice for Cheongju-ers?
Exploring and living in a different culture with an open mind makes expat life easier. Try not to make harsh assumptions or to apply your own cultural expectations to Korean culture. There is no reason to think one country or culture is better or worse than another - they are just different.