It’s been a long time since I’ve posted and many things have changed. About 5 days before I returned to the US my old company’s president messaged me out of the blue asking me my plans. I was supposed to go home for a 30 day vacation, but what ended up happening was that she hooked me up with a job with a really nice title and travel benefits domestically. I fought it for a whole but have accepted that this is the path I’m supposed to take for now. What’s interesting about this job is it allows me to stay in my field- international education- but I get to do the opposite side of things: bringing students INTO America as opposed to sending Americans OUT of the country.
I’m sitting in a conference right now that my company is partners with and they are talking about Chinese students and the “Chinese dream” vs the American dream. This was something I noticed that Koreans didn’t have. My students were hopeless and you could tell they didn’t have anything to hold onto to push harder for. It was discouraging for both them and myself as an educator.
The Chinese have adopted a form of the American dream and as a result of that there has been a drastic increase in students coming to America. I do hope that this kind of dream catches with Koreans, but it is always important to note that this dream directly effects only those people who have families that can support their time abroad.
I’ve read articles that said the American dream is dead and we are capping out on who can really advance if they put in the hard work, but I think I disagree. I believe that we still believe this dream and it still helps motivate us to be better at what we do and it’s not just an American dream anymore, but can expand to a more widespread belief.
Now I may make some vast generalizations here, but of course this is my space and about my observations in the cultures I have lived in.
As we all know last week Korea suffered from a horrible incident wherein the cargo ship, Sewol, listed and sank with almost 300 people on it that are in the process of being recovered from the sea floor. Most of these people were teenaged children on a field trip to make this even more heartbreaking. I’ll keep my commentary about what I feel should really happen to the SOB of a Captain who made it off the ship safely while all those young lives perished and go to the aftermath and how Korea grieves.
Last Friday a group of friends attended a SK Wyveryns baseball game, which usually are high energy filled with singing, yelling and cheerleaders to rev up the crowd. At the time I didn’t understand why, but it was explained that they were absent that night due to the ship sinking. Fair enough, it just had happened a few days before and should rightfully be mourned. However, during the race my friends who had signed up for the race in Mokpo three weeks from then received a text saying that the race would be cancelled due to the events. Fair enough again, the rescue crews probably wouldn’t be done and that area is heavily trafficked right now by media and family of the lost ones.
However, it seems even more events are being postponed or cancelled due to this event. Ansan Rock Festival has been cancelled, which since the people were from Ansan I get it a bit- but it’s also the end of July when it happens so by then shouldn’t we be onto the proper remembrance period?
Even this weekend the annual Lotus Lantern Festival to celebrate my homeboy Buddha’s birthday has been reduced to a small production with a shorter run time so I’ve heard. Also, I haven’t seen any flags at half mast in honor of the fallen. Furthermore, I have heard zero talk about any type of grievance counselors for the families nor do I think they would even have those types in the country. A bit odd when they have internet addiction counselors at almost every school.
Tonight was my last supper with the coworkers as it was my last day. One of my coteachers was getting on my case about crying, which I’ll admit though I disliked my placement due to the students lack of wanting to achieve in life, the staff were kind and generously warm people and I am sad to be leaving those relationships though we couldn’t communicate in one common language. I had said as long as there was no alcohol I would be fine and the head teacher in charge of the dinner said we wouldn’t be having any alcohol anyways because we cannot cheers or celebrate at this time (due to Sewol).
This is where things differ from the US. When something like this happens it seems the nation bands together and the show must go on events and all but there is always a moment of silence observed in honor of the lives we have lost. Celebrating is just as much the yin to the grieving’s yang as night is to day. I don’t mean to be insensitive at all because this was a tragic event and we should take a moment to reflect on the lives lost and those that mean the most, but when you have something to celebrate- you really should separate the events. There are ways you can honor people- setting up benefits, donating the proceeds to a fund set up for the families, moments of silence and lowering the flags to half-mast, but then again I live in Asia and emotions are not something they’re programmed to do as much.
As I sit here hundreds of thousands of miles away in South Korea streaming lived feed of Coachella 2014 I can’t help but feel nostalgic, which of course shoots me into memory lane as well as personal reflection. I can confidently say that without a doubt Coachella and EDM changed my life.
Two years ago I was 26 and attended my first Coachella. Why so late you may ask? Well if Backstreet Boys would have landed a spot at Coachella any year leading up to that year I would have been there. But they weren’t and I had since grow up- a lot- and progressed into better more evolved music (sorry Boys, you just are stuck in the past).
It was a time in my life where I had a job, one that for the most part I liked, I was living in Arizona- a place I never thought I’d be, but then again I owe most of my love of EDM to my Arizona friends. I was content with life, but I wasn’t fulfilled and worrying about the next step and the next big exciting thing was far off into the distance and I truly believed excitement was only for your college years.
In came Coachella 2012. It was the first time in a long time that I completely let my life be for one whole weekend and was fully present. Listening to the likes of David Guetta, Kasakade, Sebastian Ingrosso, Swedish House Mafia, Alesso and others tele-ported me back to my college days when I had my visions of what I wanted and dreamed my life to be like years later. (Maybe it was being near all those late teens and young twenty-somethings as well). I was completely and utterly happy with life and those around me.
However as it goes Coachella ends, you go back to your real life and well Coachella Depression hits you. For me it hit me hard and for many many months. It was so bad that it affected my work and my overall happiness. I wasn’t doing what I really wanted- yes I was helping students go around the world, but I didn’t want to tell people HOW to do I wanted to be the one booking my ticket to some unknown land and figuring out the ins and outs of that place (or places). I had looked a long time before and after Coachella for jobs that would let me work abroad with my skill set as well as pay off my student debt from college (that ugly elephant that I have to lug around in every life decision). I had seen Korea as an option, but after thinking about it I just didn’t know if I would want to live there a full year. Until that right moment came where I was at my lost and felt completely defeated and wondered if this was really it in my life. Going to break with a friend and coworker one hot Arizona day in 2012 she got in my car and said, “I’ve looked into teaching in Korea, the money is good and I can do anything for a year.” In that moment I was sold.
The rest is really history as I am sitting here writing this in my apartment after almost a full year of living and working abroad in Korea. The path before me is still unknown, but watching Coachella 2014 this year reminds me again that this is my life and I have all the power to make it what I want it to be.
To all the EDM acts that I watched at Coachella 2012 and the following year in 2013 as well as the acts this year that streamed through my computer- thank you. Thank you for being my yearly check-in and reminder that my dreams are my own and it’s my choice to live out all that I want out of life!!!