The days turned into weeks and then October happened. I have no idea how. Everyday feels the same here, and yet, time is moving along steadily. I stay busy, but have become totally routinized… I am remembering now why I liked owning my own business and why living a transient life for the past two years actually seemed pretty cool =) RIGHT until it wasn’t cool anymore… (I don’t want to mention being stuck in the elevator again, but yeah, that’s where the story ends).
It’s hard to express how much I am not enjoying my current city. I’m not being a debbie-downer by acknowledging the truth of the matter (almost added the rules for hearsay right there), which is that I am bored, misplaced, oppressed, and hateful when I think about Daejeon. It’s extremely conservative here at my school, and I am finding myself to be more liberal than I expected to declare myself. On the flip side: my students are amazing, inspiring, thoughtful, and young. I sometimes forget how hard it was to be 20 years old. I also really like my department dean, though I do believe it’s difficult for him to adjust to having me as a staff member. Of course, I’m pretty sure every boss I’ve ever had since the beginning of time, including my parents and Not BF, have said the same exact thing. He is a kind-hearted man who seems to have high ambitions for our department. I also think he is very student-centered, which I appreciate. So, I’m just gonna have to grin-and-bear Daejeon to the best of my ability, which is not always very gracefully or happily.
During Korean Thanksgiving (Chuseok), I ended up having a 6 day weekend, so I decided to visit Gimhae, Busan, and then head to Gimcheon to do an orphanage stay. SO WONDERFUL. I loved seeing old friends and I loved seeing the sun and the beach and feel the cool sea breeze and warm sand. I also loved having a super soft mattress at a little hotel on the beach =) I think what I need to do is commit to visiting Busan more often, as a means of pressing reset and keeping myself focused. I was so much happier to be in Korea after my visit!
The orphanage – I might need an entire additional blog entry to discuss Korean social and child welfare and why it’s an EPIC FAIL, in my meager opinion. Of course, I have yet to find a system which I do not grade an EPIC FAIL, so I think I might do a comparative study of child welfare systems as an academic paper. I’m also interested in Korean adoption law, because it seems they keep changing the rules – with complete arbitrariness. I realize now, that by remaining silent, those of us with relatively “normal” adoption stories have failed current orphans; we allowed a vocal (and disgruntled) minority to change a lot of the laws that helped enable overseas adoptions. I’m not really sure how to turn things back.
What I am sure of: children deserve affection and attention. The kids at the orphanage in Gimcheon were bright, polite (relatively speaking), energetic, creative, and super cutie patooties! The hardest and also BEST, part of the visit was the baby room filled with 12-20 month olds. They were adorable, by far my favorite age group for kids. But, sitting on a lap is a hot commodity. These children are socialized to learn they will not be held, to not EXPECT to be held. They are taught early to self-comfort, to play independently, to be distrustful, and to see adults as incidental. Yup, basically they are taught to foster reactive attachment disorder. BUT, they are also taught that developing those independent-comfort skills means survival. Anyhow, sitting in the baby room means lap war. If a baby is on your lap, expect a line to form. Expect a battle of king-of-the-hill-style “I call shotgun” racing-to-be-held to happen. Expect the child you want to hold to avoid you. If you think about it too much, it will hurt your heart and your brain. These children are generally content and relatively happy, so take heart in knowing they are not pitifully broken. However, I still made an extra effort to hold every single baby at least once or that it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt to have to put one down so the next baby could have a chance to be hugged.
For Korean Thanksgiving, I felt grateful, thankful, appreciative. I don’t take for granted my life, my good fortune, or the happenstance accident of my birth. I strongly advise, encourage, and demand that people who feel frustrated by their life, or who lack gratitude, should volunteer at their local orphanage (in America it’s called “crisis nursery” or “group home”). I promise, it will change your perspective, and hopefully, someone else’s life =) Happy Chuseok!