Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 in Review

I tend to get pensive whenever the holiday season comes. Not so much because it's Christmas (although I LOVE Christmas) but because it's the end of the year, and I always find myself evaluating where I am, what I'm doing, and where I'd like to go next.
I think that I will probably always look back on 2008 as the year that led me out of the darkness. My students talk a lot about bullying and the negative effects that it has on them, but I always notice that they somehow assume that it is only a school thing, and someday it will be outgrown. The experience I had with a workplace bully, though, was a thousand times more devastating than anything I ever faced when I was in school. I still feel sick when I think about how isolated I was at the beginning of 2008, and how my amazing overseas experience had deteriorated into a nightmare so quickly. In January, after everything that had happened, I felt so broken and lost. All of my confidence was gone and I couldn't take a step in any direction. The decision to leave Korea in February so I could get away from the bully's sphere of influence, without knowing what I was going back to or what I would do next, was the most difficult decision I've ever made.
What was so good about the decision, though, was the realization that my heart always points me true. Within two weeks of being back home in Canada, I knew that I wasn't done with Korea. I also knew that thinking of nothing but myself and my own problems was exhausting me. I wanted to be in a situation where I could be of service to others. The two objectives converged when I first considered working at an international school. To this day, I still don't know where the idea came from or how I thought of it. God was definitely watching out for me when he put the idea into my head, and even more so when I got hired at my school. God found a way to bring me back here.
My job is a lot of work, and I know I complain about it sometimes. I also don't feel like I always do it as well as I should -- it feels like I'm making mistakes all the time. But what motivates me to improve is the knowledge that this job has taught me that I will always keep working to be a better teacher, a better coworker, a better friend. My coworkers are all so healthy in their worldviews and their relationships with other people, which has allowed me to relax and trust new people again. When I think about all that I'm learning from my students, I get more and more excited to improve so that I can continue to help them change and grow. They are such cool people, each with their own goals and ambitions, and I am so happy to be a part of that.
I feel like, this second time around, I have found a new Korea, the Korea that I had originally come here to find. The Korea that I experience through the filter of my own perception, unclouded by anything or anyone else. I am also more productive than I have ever been, doing things I could not have believed I would ever do. In 2009, I plan to push all personal limits and see just how far I can go.

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