I feel so at home in Ochang, South Korea. A few months ago I was a complete stranger. Now I know someone everywhere I go in this little town. And it’s always fun to come back after I’ve left for a weekend, or even following a bike ride to Cheongju.

As soon as I returned from my bike ride this evening, I rode by some students at the first corner I turned. As I waited for my triple-shot iced latte, I talked with another student, and met his father inside Paris Baguette. Outside the café another one of my students was on his phone.

I rode about a block, with latte in hand, unable to wave to more students I saw running around the playground. I followed one of my sixth graders across the street, but she didn’t see me as she headed for our Taekwondo studio on her bike.

Closer to my apartment I biked upon three of my third-grade students. They had just finished Taekwondo, and were still wearing their uniforms. I simply said, “Cheongju,” and, “Bike.” They understood. One came over and rubbed his little hand up and down my leg. The students are obsessed with my leg and arm hair.

I raced one of them home. He lives nearby. I let him win. This time. Next time I won’t be so nice.

It’s hard to believe how much I’ve become a part of this community, a part of so many lives in this place. Just as this community and so many lives have become a part of mine. I look forward to spending another year in Ochang, Korea.


  1. I like that one of the labels on this entry is "body hair." You'll probably use that one a lot.

    Sometimes I think it sounds like you live in a Disney movie. Glad you're feeling at home, though Iowa still misses you ;)

    1. Yes, sometimes I get a little label happy, but since this post I've learned my ways. My body hair is still there. The label isn't. :)


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