From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."


고맙습니다, 선생님! (Thank you, Teacher!) ^^


May 15th is Teacher’s Day in South Korea. On this special day, students give their teachers carnations or thank-you letters. Some prefer to give cosmetics or chocolates.

394375_644082432273104_927772010_nMy Korean students usually write me letters or give candies and chocolates on Teacher’s Day.

Last year, when I returned to work after taking a short leave, my youngest class surprised me with a note on the board and gave me a group hug. The little ones could not prepare any flowers or presents, but they gave me the best gift that day.

This morning, the first one to greet me “Happy teacher’s day” was my husband. (Well, he used to be my student. ^^)

Tomorrow. it’s my turn to make a teacher smile. I’m sure that my Korean language teacher will receive carnations from other students, so instead of flowers, I’m thinking of buying her Starbucks coffee or maybe getting her a Starbucks gift card. You can purchase a Teacher’s Day gift card in Starbucks or order one on-line or via smart phone. The video below will give you instructions on how to do it. (It’s in Korean though.)

I’ve worked with many Korean teachers. They are very patient and hardworking.


My first Korean language teacher is a nurse, but she volunteered to teach foreign wives and migrant workers in Namyangju (South Korea). Now she heads a multi-cultural center in Donong. She has been very helpful to me, especially when I was still adjusting to the Korean way of life. At times, she took me and my classmates on field trips. When my husband was busy with work and he didn’t have time to assist me with some documents I needed in the hagwon, it was my Korean teacher who helped me. She doesn’t teach me anymore, but I visit her in the center sometimes.

I’m planning to see her this week to tell her personally, 고맙습니다, 선생님! (gomapseumnida , ​​seonsaengnim) (Thank you, Teacher!)


If you have a Korean teacher you would like to greet on Teacher’s day, you can say, “스승의 날 축하해요!” ( seuseung-ui nal chughahaeyo) which means…



How Has Your Day Been, My Friend?

I was expecting to have a TERRIBLE day because of a few TERRIBLE students in some of my Tuesday classes. I’ve just had a TERRIBLE week of being sick, being told by my doctor a not-so-good news and not being able to go to work for four days… but tonight, when my middle school students came to the classroom, they all got excited and said that they missed me; some even offered me a hug. A boy who used to make trouble in class told me before he left the classroom: “Teacher, don’t get sick again.”

On my way home, I had to stand on the bus for 30 minutes because all seats were taken. (Most Koreans don’t mind standing on the bus. Everyone just wants to be home as soon as possible, so even when the bus is crowded, the driver keeps accepting passengers.) I was exhausted and dizzy. How TERRIBLE it is to travel an hour and a half from work to home, especially when you’re hungry. It had just rained and snowed; I don’t like rainy and snowy days.

When I came home, my husband met me by the door, took my bag and carried it to the bedroom. We had an ordinary dinner together, but he liked what I cooked and said thank you for the meal.

I had tons of dishes to wash. There was laundry waiting to be done and clothes that needed to be folded and kept in the closet. The bedroom had to be tidied up, too. It seems as if the chores are endless every time I come home from work…  (the typical life of a housewife in Korea) but somehow I’m glad I can accomplish many things… and I have a husband who helps me finish all the housework when I can’t do everything by myself.

Sometimes, just when things don’t go your way and you feel like your day or week can’t get any worse, think of the “other things” that can make you smile, and remember the people who care about you and whom you care about, too, who can help you “lighten up” your load.

Life is not a piece of paradise. There will always be terrible days, terrible people, terrible encounters… (especially when you live in a foreign land) but if we focus our attention on these terrible things alone, we will gain nothing but a migraine, additional wrinkles and perhaps a nervous breakdown.

Remember the myth Pandora’s Box?

One of the daughters of Zeus, a beautiful woman named Pandora, was given a small box with a big heavy lock on it. She was told never to open the box, but Pandora got very curious. One day, when her husband, Epimetheus, the keeper of the lock, was sleeping, she stole the lock from him and opened the box.  All the bad things in this world flew out of the box: sickness, misery, envy, hate, cruelty.

Pandora immediately slammed the box shut, but all of the negative things that people could ever experience in life had already gotten out, except for one thing… HOPE.

Today, I have found hope in my students and in my loving husband… and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be all right. ^^

How has your day been, my friend? Have you had another hectic day at work? Have you argued with anybody today? Do the bills trouble you? Do you feel alone, empty, tired? Are you angry, hurt or frustrated?

Open your life’s little box. There must be something there that can make you feel better. Is it a light-hearted conversation with a colleague over coffee break? Your children’s laughter, those tiny hands that touch your face? Your husband’s smile, his words of encouragement? It could be your favorite cake or ice cream, too. A sigh, a whisper, a prayer. Go on, keep searching… hope must be there… somewhere. =)

"The Praying Hands" (work of the German artist Albrecht Dürer)

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