To leave the world a bit better
to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
The shock lasted longer than I thought when Uncle Emerson’s words smashed in the back of my head when I lived in this world and said that making even one person happy and making the world a better world was successful. Will I ever be able to become a useful person in the world? If I didn’t know, I would have just lived, but after I found out, I couldn’t stay still. While I was thinking about what I could do for others, who have no special talent, I started Korean language classes with the bold idea of teaching Korean to foreigners, even though I am a native Korean speaker (?).
However, teaching Korean was not as easy as I thought. It was easy to get rid of the students’ ridicule when explaining with all sorts of hand gestures and drawings with words that could be explained immediately once they knew their mother tongue. However, I was very happy to be able to talk about different cultures with people from different countries in the common language of Korean, laugh and communicate with each other.
It has already been a year since I started teaching Korean. Starting this year, I will teach Korean with my middle school students. When I see six cute pupils sitting next to a migrant worker student in a small classroom, teaching them Korean, and joking with each other, I can’t help but laugh at my mother’s heartwarming smile.
To be honest, I am sorry that I have gained a lot from starting this Korean class. Accurate Korean expressions that you learn while teaching, migrant workers who encourage you to be teachers as well as poor Korean teachers who are lost every time, vivid stories of cultures from different countries, and opportunities to give your students a good experience. But above all else, the reward of teaching Korean, a means for migrant workers to come to an unfamiliar country to defend and promote their rights, is an experience that cannot be bought with money. Although we have not yet become a society in which migrant workers are not discriminated against, I hope that I will be of some help to advance into such a society, and I am infinitely grateful to the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center for giving me the opportunity to become a useful person in the world.