A dragonfly at the SETI campus, 10/15/10
The last three days have been so emotionally charged, i don’t even know where to begin.
Things have been amazing at work. My girls and i have bonded so much that i already get misty thinking about how i won’t get to continue teaching my 2nd graders next year when they move up to the 3rd grade. One of my favorite students took the opportunity of my midterm exam essay prompt to write a letter to me expressing the same exact sentiment, thanking me for all my efforts and dedication, and asking if we can be friends. Luckily, she lives across the street from me, so i’ll be able to hang out with her next year.
The days leading up to the SETI training were so stressful with students mobbing me to argue about grades that the training was the most gratifying vacation i could’ve asked for. It was so good seeing everyone (well, mostly everyone) in one place again; i wanted to hug everybody but there were just too many people. I think learning is my favorite bonding experience. I can’t help but bond with fellow students (i don’t like the word “trainees”), and i just feel so at ease in a learning environment. I’ve always loved school. I love that i still get to go to school everyday, and i hope to learn and teach in some manner for the rest of my life. I want my second home to be a school, always.
And finally, i don’t know what i’d do without the friends i’ve made here. I have friends who travel over an hour just to help me mark essays, and we somehow make a great time of it. I think that in itself is a testament to how amazing they are. And i now have an important person in my life whom i can care for and who cares about me in return. He makes my life here complete.
For once, i’m perfectly content.
I know, i’m only 22. Who am i to know what it means to get old, right? But i can’t help feeling old and afraid when i…
…listen to the washing machine perform its usual final rinse. It’s not gonna sound the same in my Korean apartment.
…gather things to pack, growing wearier and hating myself for being so picky and demanding and attached to familiar objects. Why can’t i just up and leave with a couple of books and a few changes of clothes? Why do i need all this other shit to be content?
…catch my dad smiling at me and suddenly remember all the times i was a bad daughter. I don’t like feigning indifference when i’m on the phone with my parents, only to cry my eyes out afterward, because i really miss them.
A birthday isn’t a celebration of your birth;
it’s a celebration of why you live.
Friday was my birthday, and it was… different. It’s the only one i remember enjoying. It’s not like i was ever miserable on my birthdays, but i just never assigned much importance to them. I don’t remember my childhood birthdays, but for the last eight or so years, my attitude was that it’s only another day in the year, nothing to make a fuss over. My parents would ask me what i wanted, and i’d reply, “I don’t want anything. Who cares about birthdays?” I’d hate having to have my mom’s seaweed soup (a traditional Korean birthday soup), because i hate seaweed soup, and she’s not a good cook. I used to threaten her that i’d stop being her daughter if she made me any. But this year was different.
I didn’t do much. I woke up at around 5pm, wrote a few emails, and headed out to FedEx to send out my last document for a job. UPS was supposed to come by my house to pick up something, but instead of knocking and picking up my package, the delivery man just stuck the mailing label on my door. (UPS, you have a lot to learn from FedEx.) Then i went shopping with my parents for “teacher clothes” (more on this in another post) and finally had the ddeok-bok-ki i’d been craving for weeks for dinner. The ddeok-bok-ki was really good, but the draft beer tasted strange.
And so, it was an altogether unremarkable birthday. But i was strangely happy, and it was only yesterday that i figured out why, when i was up at my usual summer pre-bedtime hours in the morning. I’m at a point in my life where i’m perfectly satisfied. I know where i wanna be in a few years (grad school for Philosophy), and i know what i wanna do before i get there (teach). And now that i’m closer to making that dream of teaching a reality, i feel completely at ease and confident at the same time. This is the perfect opportunity for me to take some time off, get away for a while, make new friends, and also have a bit of time to myself to read and practice philosophy in preparation for grad school. And i value this opportunity because it’s what i wanted most.
Filed under love, personal
A wise friend of mine recently said to me, “Knowing what you want to do is not quite the same as knowing exactly where you can go.” School and society put so much emphasis on the where that i lost sight of the what as i came closer to where i am now: my last semester of college.
This academic year has changed me in strange ways. I struggled a lot last semester with insecurities i never knew i had, most of which got in the way of my learning. For the first time in my life, i found my classes to be an inconvenience and a drone (this partly had to do with the kinds of classes i was taking that semester, but it was also my attitude towards the learning that got in the way). Needless to say, it was a highly disappointing semester, resulting not only in dropped grades but also a further drop in self-esteem. (Just to be fair, one class and the professor that taught it encouraged me to express myself, which positively changed my approach to writing, but this didn’t change the fact that i felt oppressed by my other classes and professors.)
This semester has been interesting in that the four classes i’m taking are so different from each other and yet still overlap in various ways, in ways that motivate me to synthesize the thought products of each class with each other, which in turn makes me strive hard in all of them. One class, Tactical Media, is a graduate course cross-listed as an offering to undergraduate upperclassmen, but the class is mostly graduate students. I was intimidated at first by their professional accomplishments and general outspokenness, but i’m starting to find it easier to talk to these people than my fellow undergraduates. There is a higher degree of respect for each other and not just a willingness but a desire to get to know one another. I think it might have to do with the lack of competition. They’ve already accomplished a great deal in their respective fields, and they’re all here for different reasons (the course belongs in the Arts and Public Policy department, but students come from all different departments, backgrounds, and careers). They’re here to further their own individual projects, whether it be producing a social activist movement or sparking a debate about urban etiquette, but while doing so, they work together and share their individual interests and skills. At the undergraduate level, most students are in the same boat of graduating and moving on to their respective fields. Whether they admit it or not, undergrads are out to outdo one another in order to get a job or make it into grad school. But going back to why i started talking about this class in the first place, it’s a key element in my learning this semester in that it is helping me become more outspoken in all of my classes; to put it simply, it’s encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone, but in a welcoming environment. There is no competing—only sharing. We don’t even compete for grades, because we grade ourselves at the end of the semester. Discussion in this class is therefore as democratic and open as it can get; besides the individual projects (which are always collaborative), we are all in the unified project of progressing as a class.