Thursday, March 19, 2009

Notes from a moleskine journal

29/12/08, Somewhere over Russia

I am flying over Russia, following the sun. I was so nervous before I left home, but now that I am on my big adventure it feels right.

When I woke in South Korea this morning, there was snow on the ground. Korea reminded me of Thailand in some ways; the high level of organisation with stickers and directions and prompt service, but without the chaos. I didn't feel as though I was walking into another world the way I did when I walked, as though in slow motion, through the outer doors of Bangkok's airport into mayhem. Incheon is neat and polite, unobtrusive.

On the first leg of my flight, a Korean movie was playing called, well, I forgot what it was called, but it was about a sports coach trying to make it as an English teacher. A noble feat indeed. Here, as in Thailand, English is held in the highest regard- it is a source of power.

I was reminded of this again during breakfast this morning, reading an English translation of the 'Korean News'. The front page story- above the news of 200 dead in the Gaza strip after the Israeli bombings- was about the Korean government relaxing its immigration rules to allow other English speaking foreigners (outside the US, UK, Aust and S. Africa) to apply for positions as English teachers in Korea. Their hope is to expand the pool of qualified teachers for conversation classes. The America accent- their preference- is not so highly valued anymore. And, as I modify my own English in order to communicate, as I attempt to cut out my colloquialisms, mannerisms and excentricities, I wonder why English has ended up ruling the world for so long.

The sun is a yellow haze on the horizon. Soft, gentle. It must be growing colder- the clouds are no longer visible beneath the grey fog.

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