Anne Rudisill ’07, ’09 MA had always wanted to teach abroad. So when the opportunity came for her to put her degrees in use to help children in South Korea, she jumped at the opportunity.
“Exploring the world is an important part of my life,” Rudisill says. “It was a no-brainer for me.”
We talked with Rudisill by email about her experiences abroad (She has been in New Zealand most recently).
What made you choose Seoul? To me, Seoul represents a dichotomy of past and future. While it is an increasingly global city and is leading the way in communications technology, the rural farming culture still remains strong. Western culture is creeping up on every street corner, but Korean culture is deeply rooted in the traditions of the past and it so apparent whenever you talk the people.
Was it hard to leave the United States? I was very unhappy about having to leave my sister and brother-in-law. Luckily, technology has made our world a smaller place and it has been easy to stay in touch with the people I miss so much at home. But I was pretty angry to miss out on football and basketball seasons last year, though I tried to keep up with the Pack as much as I could.
How long have you been teaching? I taught in Seoul for a year and while I’m taking a break from it at the moment, I’m leaving the door open to return to teaching abroad in the future. Having the opportunity to hang out with kids everyday and actually being able to see evidence that you are having an effect on their education is rewarding and isn’t something that is easy to give up.
What was it like to immerse yourself in a new culture? When the average Korean knows minimal English, mundane tasks like sending a letter to buying food become a bit of an adventure and adjusting to the extra effort that errands required in Korea took patience and understanding. What I found to be more of a challenge than the language barrier were the cultural differences in the way Koreans communicate, work and live. Luckily, Koreans are very friendly and eager to help if you make an effort.
What memory from teaching stands out most? The kids that I was fortunate enough to teach were all incredible and I miss them very much. I really loved special days like Halloween and Christmas at school. Two weeks before Christmas, we had our kindergartners write letters to Santa and tell him what they’d like this year. They put their letters in our big mailbox for the North Pole, and we sent the letters along to their parents.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, one of our teachers dressed as Santa and had a huge velvet sack of gifts and visited all of our kindergarten classes. Some of the kids may have realized that Santa was actually Andrew Teacher, but I’d say that most of them were just flabbergasted and excited that Santa had come all the way from the North Pole to Korea to give them presents. They were even more excited to see that Santa had read their letters and they got exactly what they asked for. I’d never really gotten a chance to see kids on Christmas before and it made me so happy to see the joy on their faces that morning.
— Jeannene Lang