By: Emily, NSLI-Y Korea, Academic Year 2014-2015
While other students were recovering from midterm exams in the mountains, Kim, Matt and I traveled to Seokmodo to share our language and culture with a group of middle school students. Even though the weather at times refused to cooperate, we met many interesting people and saw many beautiful parts of Seokmodo.
Our first day in Seokmodo was rainy and windy. Going across the harbor from Ganghwa to Seokmodo the sea sprayed onto the boat, and you could barely see Seokmodo through the fog. Once on the tiny island, we met our teachers and students, who would be our companions for the next few days. From the school, we went to the Seokmodo botanical gardens, and even though it was late fall, some flowers were still blooming! We also saw wonderful fall foliage and many trees and plants only found on Seokmodo. It was so windy our umbrellas turned inside out, and we ended up retiring back to the forest lodge, where we drank tea together and made crafts from pressed flowers and dried plants. Matt turned out to be especially good at designing patterns with the flowers, and we all had a good time learning out to make keychains, broaches and hairpins from the wildflowers found in the botanical garden.
Back at the school, we American students spent most of our time sharing our cultural presentations with the middle-schoolers. Their English skills were really impressive, and they asked us many questions about American life. We discovered that there was a foreign English teacher at this middle school who was from Colorado, my home state! I had a lot of fun talking to him and reminiscing about things from home, and he even knew about my tiny home town.
We also spent the night at the dormitories at the middle school, and found out that American or Korean, students are loud. Despite the age and language differences, we connected with the students by talking about our shared interests, mainly Kpop and food.
The next day provided us with much lovelier weather, but was mainly spent indoors both attending and teaching class. By the end of the day though, we got outside to play soccer and use English terms to describe the game. All of us agreed that we wanted to return to Seokmodo in the spring, to get a chance to see the many trees and flowers in bloom, and maybe reunite with the friends we made on the island.