Monday, February 16, 2015

Learning More than Was Expected

In September of 2012 an English Language Teacher in Elementary School decided to listen to her inner voice, gave up her secure teaching job, and went to Russia to study. She writes about her experience in the recent issue of the Korean Catholic Digest. 

She is 26 years old, and because of her long held  dream, and firm resolution, left teaching to return to being a student in Russia. From the first night in Russia, one by one, her strong aspirations began to disappear. When she saw her sleeping quarters she was transported back to the 70s, a great shock to her.

The place was filled with dust and cobwebs, filled with a horrible stench, a common toilet without lights, a ceiling that was leaking water, and a corridor that was filled with mold. Yuck! was the feeling that naturally followed from seeing her situation.  

Her roommate was Chinese who liked to listen to music to early in the morning with little understanding of what common living meant.

She began studying the Russian language, doing her home work, cooking her meals and cleaning up afterwards, and little by little adapting to her new environment.

In reality, her biggest difficulty was the discrimination she felt for being Asian. When she walked the streets the children would confront her; laughing they would be abusing her with words she couldn't understand, which made it all the worse. In the post office she would have persons push themselves in line ahead of her, which would fill her with pent up anger. Her personality was one that would ordinarily give 'tic for tac' but since she didn't understand or speak Russian she was more than upset.

What wealth and honors was she going to enjoy that would deserve this kind of treatment? She was an only daughter, and had a job that gave her prestige in her society; never before did she experience this kind of abuse... why did she ever come to Russia? She returned to her room and felt completely helpless, and began counting the days to return to Korea.

At that time Jesus came into her thoughts. Usually when she felt upset she would go to church. The thoughts about Jesus suddenly coming to mind was strange. She recalled how Jesus came to us and suffered all the discrimination and abuse for love of us, it was the first time, she ever thought about the virtue of humility.

Up until that time, she thought that she was a humble person, but realized she was full of pride. She wanted others to appreciate who she was. She was concerned on how she was coming across to others, and wasn't able to detach herself from the way others saw her. She knew that real humility was not concerned with this. The study of the language was not coming easy, she was struggling alone, but she came to the realization that more then learning Russian she learned something more important.

Why did she come to Russia?  More than regrets she is now thankful for her experience; a lesson that will remain with her for the rest of her life. She hopes  she will be open to imitating Jesus more closely and following his will.

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