Off to Korea

koreaTravel has always been a way for me to push myself to grow as a person and to challenge my students to rethink some of the preconceived misperceptions that they may have about the world. Perhaps ominously, this year I will be traveling to the Republic of South Korea with 30 other teachers through the Korea Society’s Educator Fellowship program. Particularly this year, when Kim Sung Un’s face has become synonymous with bad jokes on late night talk shows, and satirical Facebook posts, it has become especially important for me to help my students further understand this complex peninsula. In preparation for my trip, I have done some research into the complexities that have characterized not just the history of Korea, but the history of East Asia as well. As you may remember, a few years ago I participated on another study tour to China where I learned a great deal about the contemptuous relationship that existed between China and Japan leading up to and during World War II. Many people don’t know however, that Korea also suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese during the war, and this is one of the things I hope to study further while in Korea. I also hope to get a glimpse into the lives of ordinary Koreans, learn about their ancient history, as well as recent developments, with a particular emphasis on the culture and food. The fact that so many people seem frightened when I tell them I am traveling to South Korea makes it all the more important for me to try to truly grasp this nation as much as I can, and share that understanding with others.
After the study tour, I will be traveling on to the Indonesian Island of Bali for some relaxation and adventure. Perhaps best known from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, for years Bali has allured travelers from all walks of life for its beauty, beaches, culture, and food. Predominantly Hindu, Bali remains a “paradise” for travelers, surfers, cultural seekers, and young party-goers, though recently there is some contention that it has become overcrowded and touristy. While in Bali, I will be traveling to Legian; the party/relaxation/beach scene, West Bali National Park; an isolated island with nature preserves and an abundance of wildlife, and Ubud; the cultural and artistic center that sits in the hills just below the volcanos.
I am sure that both places will be entirely different experiences, and I’m sure that both places will be nothing at all like what I expect of them; and that is the ultimate joy of travel.

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