August 2, 2012 by travelinggrits
During my freshman year in high school, all students were required to take a course called “Strategies for Success,” in which we read the self-help text Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. As you might guess, the class was mostly about how to survive high school and work toward being a responsible adult. (I am of the mind that these skills can only be learned through experience – but I digress.)
Needless to say, I never thought material from this book would inspire thought-provoking reflection, and I was mildly shocked when it came to mind today. I Googled the book to be sure my mental reference was correct, and yep: Habit 3, First Things First.
The metaphor used to demonstrate this principle was a person challenged with fitting a bag full of rocks and a bag full of pebbles into a bucket. The book explained that to fit everything into the bucket without overflowing, one must put the large rocks (the most important things in life) in first and fill in the gaps with the smaller pebbles (less important tasks).
It’s hard to believe, but the orientation period is halfway over – in less than a month I’ll be at my placement site. Last week, I completed a detailed preference form about my goals for the year and the characteristics of the school and community where I would like to live. I have confidence that the Fulbright team will place each grantee in the location where he or she can best carry out the responsibilities of the job and participate in desired extracurricular activities, but because we did not have access to a list of possible placements I have no idea about the outcome.
But all will be revealed on Friday. Since my arrival in Korea, I have caught glimpses of the country around me, but I have still been insulated within the training atmosphere in this remote location. When my name is called at the placement ceremony, I expect reality to strike like a lightning bolt. My placement will mark a tangible place to take root and live life to the fullest.
That being said, it is about time to write out a list of goals I would like to accomplish during my time in South Korea. The grant year will pass fast, and I have a large bag of rocks and pebbles. First things first, my greatest duty is to my teaching position and my students’ progress. I have some rather abstract and subjective ambitions, like leaving a lasting impact on my school through new programs and strong relationships. But I also have other measurable, concrete goals to accomplish that carry weight both personally and professionally. Some are one-time events; others involve much more of a time commitment. I must strategize now to put them together.
I am sure I will add to this list throughout the year, but this is a good start. And you, my readers, can help keep me accountable for documenting when I have completed them. Feel free to make suggestions as well!
- Teach afterschool club classes
- Travel to the 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites in South Korea- CHECK!
- Learn a traditional Korean instrument (piri, daegeum, kayagum) or go to a music hagwon for piano
- Hike in at least five of South Korea’s national parks
- Taste test various Korean foods, pick a favorite and learn how to cook it
- Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity at least once
- Volunteer with a community English language program
- Investigate whitewater rafting or kayaking opportunities – CHECK!
- Travel to other areas in Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, possibly Southeast Asia) over my winter break- CHECK!
- Experience a jjimjilbang
- Achieve intermediate proficiency in Korean language
- Go to a cultural festival (some possible choices: Andong Mask Festival, Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival, Cheonan World Dance Festival, Namwon Chunhyang Festival) – CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!
- See the Boseong tea fields
- Explore opportunities for research or contribute to a Fulbright scholar’s work
- Submit an article about my experience for publication in an electronic or print magazine.