It’s a new semester. I have three different co-teachers. Bibong Elementary has another vice principal and 17 new teachers in all. My students are mixed up in different classes and grades. I feel like I’m starting all over again.

The other day I was asked to stand up and introduce myself in Korean to all the teachers at my school. I completely failed. One would think I’d have my act together by now. Thankfully my principal shouted, "I love you!" After which everyone clapped and laughed. Saved!

"It feels so foreign," one of my new co-teachers said to me as she began to unpack.

Suddenly, I’m like the expert around here, even though I’m the actual foreigner. "Please help us," she asked as I showed her where the elevator was.

Today I had the honor of bowing to my entire student body at our welcoming assembly. It's something I haven't had the chance to do before. Many of the students even cheered, which made me feel right at home.

Bowing is very important in Korean culture, but adults don’t usually bow to children. To be able to show my students I equally respect them in this way meant a lot.

I think I’m more excited than the kids (and other teachers) to be back in school. Transitions may be bittersweet, but change is unstoppable. A semester filled with so much joy, some frustration and plenty of cultural mishaps is ahead. Cheers to new beginnings!


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