By: Shanavia Rivers
I couldn’t, shouldn’t, and or wouldn’t forget Korea. There is so much I’m thankful for and I have experienced so much here. Stuff I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing. Years prior to venturing here I worked as a nursing assistant, customer service representative, and a bar tender. Once I graduated from college with my BS in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science, I was at an emotional standstill in my life. Not to mention the recession had taken a toll on recent grads. Of course, I was devastated, having spent a lot of money on books, and tuition over the past 5 ½ years. I sure wasn’t content with flipping vodka bottles and helping people into a state of inebriation. I HAD TO DO SOMETHING ELSE! So, I phoned a long time friend whom I deemed “insane “and out of her mind for teaching in Korea for two consecutive years. At the time I was just “inquiring” about what Korea had to offer but I will say by the end of the 23 minute conversation I was convinced that I was going. With the help of a recruiting agency, passport, and a clean criminal record I was on my way in a couple of weeks. On January 1, 2009 I said my “see you laters” to my friends and family (who didn’t take me serious) as I boarded my flight to South Korea. I was nervous as heck. However, once I landed in Seoul I was fortunate to meet Marilyn Campiz, seeing her was major relief. That moment assured me that I wasn’t the only person who thought outside of the box. To add, she was really nice and genuine. We talked for hours on the bus taxi. Only after being shushed by a Korean girl (hilarious). I really didn’t care, I was just thankful to have someone to talk to. Thankful for Marilyn.
“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”
A few months had past, and I felt like me and my four walls in my apartment were getting a little tired of talking to each other. So I jumped in taxi and said” Apsan Mountain Bali” I never intended on climbing it, I just wanted to takes pictures of it. After a few snaps, I was approached by a Korean couple, probably around 60 or 70 years old. I didn’t speak any Korean and they didn’t speak English but I knew they were insinuating that I climb the mountain. The old lady even grabbed my arm and proceeded to walk me toward the entrance of the climb. I knew that they meant business. I quickly phoned one of my friends that lived close by and told him to come join me. Of course they waited on him to arrive. So up Apsan Mountain I went. I have to admit, I wanted to quit after the first 10 steps. But the Korean couple made sure that I didn’t give up. It seemed like every 2 minutes they were patting me on my back and motioning for me to keep going. Wow, 4 miles of elevation.
The views of the city at different heights were breathtaking. They made my pictures that I took at the bottom of the mountain look like chop suey. I was in complete awe. Even though the couple made look like a piece of cake, I was determined to make to make it to the top. They were determined to get me to the top.. Once I made it to the highest peak (the top), I quickly phoned my mother (yeah, I couldn’t believe my phone actually worked way up there). She was ecstatic, almost in tears, and she was proud. The view was unexplainable, amazing, and most of all emotional. It gives me chills just thinking and typing about it. At that moment I was so grateful and thankful to have met that couple. I would have never climbed that mountain if it weren’t for them. After that, I started shark diving, paragliding, canoeing, rafting, and doing everything I could. Even though I didn’t understand what they were saying. I bet they were saying “you only live once so do as much as you can”. My stay here has been more than an experience. It has been a journey, a journey that I will never forget. I have met so many people from different countries, ethnicity, political backgrounds, and cultures. From the Korean cashier that helps me every time I come into their store to shop to my GRE math tutor, who tutors me for free; Korea has been more than good to me. I will be leaving soon, Feb 13th 2010 to be exact. Even though my body will be in America, a piece of my heart will remain in SOKO. Who knows I may even come back. We will see won't we!
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.