I forget things easily, and I'm sad to admit it. The other day I was browsing my Facebook news feed when I saw that one of my former students had changed his cover photo to a cute picture of his entire class. I smiled when I saw the picture, then clicked on it to take a closer look. I saw three rows of familiar faces smiling for the camera, hands in the familiar "V"-sign I'd even begun to use after living in Korea for two years.
Nobody was tagged in the photo yet, so I tried to remember the names of the students in that particular homeroom class. And that's when I realized that I couldn't. Many names came back to me easily, but others escaped me completely. I had iterations of various Korean names floating around in my head, but I couldn't attach them to faces. I almost panicked because it dawned on me that my attachment to Korea has already begun to weaken and fade. I've been home for almost two months, haven't seen my students in nearly three, and despite all the messages I send on Facebook or the photos and status updates they post every day, I am beginning to forget who they are.
On one hand, this is only natural. We can pour our hearts out onto people and connect in life-changing ways, but when it's time to move on, the old links break while new ones form; the empty jar gets filled with other people. Social media and other forms of technology can only sustain it for so long. Maybe we just wern't meant to keep in touch with everyone forever.
Which do I fear more, forgetting or being forgotten? I hope that I left a lasting legacy on my students, at my school. But I know full well that I will eventually become nothing more than a memory, maybe also a photo. Courtney, who is now teaching at my school, has been doing an amazing job with my old students, as far as I can tell. And I'm happy about it. If they have so much fun in her class that they forget all the (boring) things that I ever taught them, I'll have peace of mind. But the jealous litle devil in me also wants them to miss me. To think, "I wish Andrew Teacher were still around," even though it's just a pipe dream.
Well, Courtney messaged me the other day with a photo she took of a second-year student's journal entry. And when I read what JH had written, I felt all warm inside. It really made my day.
"Since I have lived quiet good life, I have a lot of great memories. First, it is meeting teacher Andrew in CSHS. Andrew teacher is the most intelligent and kind teacher who I have ever met include Korean and foreigns. He always cheer us and keep us think optimistically. After I graduate BS in university, I'm going to meet him in US."
If you look carefully, you'll see that JH's second great memory is meeting Courtney at CSHS. I'm just so thrilled that English educators are making an impact on this young person's life. Maybe five or ten years down the road, he won't remember much of anything about either of us. (And maybe five or ten days for now I'll have forgotten what he looks like again.) But at least for now, we can know that we've done some good.
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On another note, I will be closing this blog at the end of September. This is probably going to be my last post. There are some other things I've had sitting around in my drafts for a while, but it's unlikely that I'll ever get to them. If something does come up in my future that brings me back to Korea, then I see no reason why I wouldn't write again. But in the meantime, I'm starting up a new blog, this time on WordPress, that will document my adventures in graduate school. You can find it here.
I have loved writing and photographing my time in Korea, and I thank all my readers for having joined me at one time or another. If you were a friend from home, or the random parents of friends, or a complete stranger who stumbled across this by accident, thank you all the same! I hope you learned a thing or two and were inspired, possibly, to think or write or create in some way for yourself.