I’m not an angry person, at all, but sometimes I do get mad. And there’s no real nice way to say what I’m going to say next, so I’m just going to type it out bluntly. I think several Guest English Teachers (GETs) that I've met in Korea are socially awkward and/or creepy, and I dislike what I’ve seen of the U.S. Military presence here.

It makes me so angry when I observe incidents, or hear stories that give Koreans wrong impressions of Americans, other foreigners, and especially teachers, just because of the negative actions from a few.

A few weeks ago I witnessed a horrific scene at a restaurant in Itaewon, the foreign district of Seoul. Four U.S. Military guests were causing a big, dramatic and completely unnecessary scene about something the server supposedly did (or didn’t do). They demanded that the restaurant cater more to American needs, and threatened to report back to the U.S. Military what had happened.

MY RANT—I’m sorry. But, this isn’t America. I know it seems like you’re in America on your base. But, when you’re off base, show a little respect. You’re not going to get a free meal because you’ve complained about something that likely didn’t occur.

For those of you who haven’t heard about my little Star-spangled Banner incident, let’s just say I’ll never go into a Korean bar filled with line-dancing soldiers ever again.

What has made me even more upset is a recent report about several Guest English Teachers accused of dealing marijuana within a larger drug ring. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but in Korea it’s a very big deal. Not only does it tarnish the reputation of GETs, it’s punishable by serving several years in prison plus thousands of dollars in fines.

LET ME VENT—Get a life, people. If you’re not here to fully invest in a rich cultural experience, leave. If you’re not passionate about what you do, go waste your time elsewhere. Your responsibility as a teacher is to be a leader, a positive example and mentor.

Private and public institutions throughout Korea should strongly consider having higher standards and qualifications for hiring GETs. Then maybe you wouldn't have as many weird foreigners (that I wouldn't let my own kids near) teaching your students...

Of course I’ve had my fair share of wild moments. I’m sure I’ve furthered stereotypes with some of my actions before. I like to have fun! But, I know how to be culturally appropriate. I know how to fit in as best I can. I know how to be respectful of customs. And I know what I should and shouldn’t do. It isn’t that difficult to figure out.

I’m here to make a difference, no matter how small it may be. I’m here to put in the effort it takes to go beyond. I’m here to value all experiences in and out of the classroom. I feel privileged to have this job, to get to be a teacher in South Korea.

Thank you to many of my wonderful friends making a positive impact through serving with the U.S. Military, or teaching English abroad. Continue to take pride in what you do, even when the stupidity of a few makes it more challenging for us to do so. I’m proud to work alongside you.


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