Hitting the Mark

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July 19, 2012 by travelinggrits

During my time in the Fulbright orientation program, I spend four hours a day in language class and much of the afternoon in workshops on teaching techniques and culture. I also had the opportunity to sign up for various extracurricular activities, including calligraphy, hanji, and a GLEE (Global Language Education Exchange) conversation club.

This past weekend, I chose to participate in a lesson at a nearby archery range that was used as a training ground for the 2008 South Korean archery team (which received several gold medals – in fact, they have won gold at every Olympic Games since 1988). The majority of the participants were girls, many of us with hair braided similar to The Hunger Games protagonist Katniss Everdeen.

Upon arrival, our instructor, Coach Kim, had us line up in two columns to practice a smooth motion. We then divided into three groups, with each group shooting three rounds of arrows into targets placed 10 m away.

Since I was selected for the first round, I was provided with arm and finger guards, a sheath of arrows and a bow, and after a few more instructions and practice motions the first group prepared to launch our first arrows.

One. Arms raised. Two. String drawn. Three. Fist anchored on chin, elbow cocked upward. Four. Sight centered on target. The excited chatter behind us died away. An electric energy buzzed in the air, as taut as my bowstring.

I held my breath and released.

In one of our afternoon teaching workshops, we divided into groups to create mission statements for our time in Korea. We were encouraged to begin our brainstorming by referring to physical experiences. One of my classmates described our time overseas as a sense of vertigo—a disorientation that strikes us when we’ve moved suddenly in a new direction.

When practicing our archery strokes, Coach Kim had encouraged us to remain balanced, our weight evenly distributed between both feet with torso held erect. Our best chance at hitting the mark was when we could align our body (and mind) with our target.

Seeking stability may be one of the greatest challenges of the coming year. I must strive to maintain balance between work and play, friends at home and abroad, time with others and time in reflection; I must channel my focus on achieving my desired impact on my community and myself.

A series of thuds resonated from the target as my group released a barrage of arrows on the wooden surface. Some missed the target, but as we completed each round, we refined our aim, gained confidence and cheered each other on.

May this be representative of how we all leave our mark on the world.

Photo Gallery: Archery Lesson
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