After completing my undergraduate studies, I accepted a chance to teach in Korea through the Fulbright Scholarship. Originally intending to stay just one year, it soon turned into three. I taught in Cheongju as an ETA from 2012 - 2015. This is my final post as a Fulbright ETA. In two days, I will officially be starting my new job at a small international school in Seoul.
Before saying goodbye to Fulbright, I wanted to reflect a bit on the last three years, and I think the best way to do that is with Camp Fulbright. To me, what goes on at Camp Fulbright is exactly like what happens during one's three years as an ETA. You arrive in Korea not knowing anyone else in your cohort or, for many, even knowing how to teach. After an intense orientation, you know your cohort better, and you have a sense of what you will be doing for the rest of the year (or years). Then, you move into the real world. You meet students and other teachers; you have crazy busy schedules that sometimes make you feel insane; you have moments of frustration, of anger, of sadness, and of happiness. By the end, you have some 80+ people you call your "family," and a good several hundred students you call your "kids." You've made wonderful friendships with coworkers, young Koreans, and other expats. Some decide to continue another year, and some leave.
What you leave Fulbright with, though, is a lifetime of memories and the knowledge that your family has increased a hundred fold. In essence, you never truly leave Fulbright. There may be times when you look back on your experience and think "I should have done this while I was there," or "why didn't I do that?" Overall, though, you know that Fulbright has changed you; that you have been impacted by many and have also impacted just as many.
As Robert Frost would say, "I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: / Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference."
After completing my undergraduate studies, I accepted a chance to teach in Korea through the Fulbright Scholarship. Originally intending to stay just one year, it soon turned into three. I taught in Cheongju as an ETA from 2012 - 2015.