Monday, June 4

South Korea: Mass e-mail #5

Dear friends and loved ones,
I believe summer is about to hit Gwangju in all its hot and humid glory. Everything smells damp and alive in the park. And there is a perpetual haze overtop the city these days. We've even ignited the air conditioners at school, which I hear is a sure sign that things will get pretty warm pretty quickly.
This weekend 3 of us went to a historic town on the east coast called Gyeongju. The area is known for its tombs, temples, shrines, museums and things of that sort. We arrived with no plan, but unanimously decided to rent bikes to get around. We went out about 10 miles to a nearby mountain and an amazingly beautiful temple called Bulguksa. The weather was perfect (none of the humidity that we live with down in the south), and the sights were inspiring.
I wish that there was some way to express the absolute awe I felt looking at Korea in a new way this weekend. I have to admit I have been pretty hard on this country. I tend to stand in judgement of its neon cities, pampered dogs and the stress they put on conformity. But this weekend Korea silenced me- maybe slapped me in the face- with all the history and people I haven't taken the time to appreciate. I sat by rivers. I saw snakes eating mice. I watched a crane fish in the water. I drove between mountains whose steepness disallows humans to build apartment complexes and supercenters. I watched 60, 70, 80 year old Koreans hunched over bicycles steadily making their way up mountains. I listened to the chants of people who long for peace, contentment, and selflessness.
Today my body aches and my face is still radiating with sunburn. But as I drink my coffee I feel revived, less anxious about crazy 5-year-olds, and definitely humbled.
I am sending along an attachment for anyone who would like to see some pictures from my travels, etc. The ones from this weekend will be toward the end of the photo album. I also include a photo of my students from the last field trip. PLEASE don't let them fool you with their bored, subdued looks. They're a bunch of liars. I should record class so you can hear the energy and complexity they exude in the most unimagined ways each day.
Ok, that's enough from this hemisphere. Any news from your side?
With love,

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