Songtan Sally

There is a legendary figure in the town of Songtan, her name is Sally.

She is famous not for her conversation, singing ability or charm, but because she propositions every male that crosses her path (and mind you, she is not particularly attractive).

Yes, ladies and gentleman, she is a prostitute. One of many, I am sure, in Korea.

This brings up an interesting point/ thought. There are examples of prostitution literally everywhere in Korea (of course not advertised). Yet, there are huge campaigns that advertise to ‘stop human trafficking’ on billboards and radio spotlights. The interesting thing is, I wonder if people connect the two; real life and our conventional thoughts of human trafficking are often at conflict with each other. We think abuse/ human trafficking will be obvious to spot, because, obviously no one can possibly believe in supporting such a practice. But the reality is, it’s everywhere. Sally just being one example.

A thought – keep your eyes open. Often times, situations are all about perception.


Teaching ROK ROTC

As an attempt to do something besides work, drink and constantly be around American military, I have picked up teaching military English to a group of ROK Army ROTC students.

The class has 35 boys of whom, act exactly as you would imagine a group of Junior level University students full of future male army leaders. They are goofy, don’t understand what I am saying half the time and try their best to get the whole class to crack a smile (including myself) during any activity.

Through the few short weeks that I have taught the class, I have learned more things about the Korean culture than I did struggling to get some sort of international experience cramped into my studio-dorm on base.

For one, they refuse to let me drive to the class myself instead making me take the taxi provided for by the University. Second, they always give me an escort to and from class and third, they practically force food down my throat at the end of every teaching session.

This was a pretty funny experience the first day of class.

My escort (who’s English name is John) asked if I was hungry. Although it was almost 8pm, was starved having not had time to eat prior to class, I promptly said ‘no, I am OK’, the polite American response. Well, John, not to be discouraged by my response asked, ‘Do you like Hamburger’?  ‘ Well, yes its OK’ said I. ‘OK we go to McDonalds’.

Let me preface this with the fact that I do not step foot in McDonalds in the states and absolutely refuse to do so when traveling.

We then got into a polite dance of ‘No I am really OK’ to ‘OK fine if you have to feed me, take me to your favorite Korean restaurant’. Which they did. Much to my surprise though, after sitting on the floor and taking off my shoes, them offering me a fork (another thing I refuse to do) and then ordering Bulgogi (the one Korean food that every American loves) – I noticed none of them were eating!

Then I felt especially rude. I had made them go to a Korean restaurant only to find out that it was polite in Korean culture to feed me because the class made me miss dinner (time is 5-730pm); they were trying to give me fast food and I was trying to get a cultural experience. To top it all, I was also not allowed to pay.

I still smile when thinking about it; everyone is doing their polite dance in an attempt to not be rude, but instead we are misunderstanding the etiquette of the other.

Our dreams

What was your dream?

I am not talking about meeting your perfect mate or climbing Mt. Everest – I am talking about your dream job, career, life’s pursuit. Did you accomplish it? Are you working towards it? Did you ever realize it?

I know my dream and I am still young enough to do it. However, the farther away I go from the world I once knew, the more I think about settling in a career ‘that makes more sense’. Something I swear I would never do only 2 or 3 short years ago.

It is difficult once you have chosen a path of ‘well I’ll do this for now – but later…I’ll do what I really want’ – to actually do what you really want. I am sure as life progresses that thought gets even more difficult as children, spouses and mortgages get in the way and provide an excuse for not just going for it.

Well, this is to serve as a reminder and wake up call for all those that have either said later, or really has not explored their true calling. DON’T YOU DARE FORGET.  OR put it off. Just do it – or at least set yourself up to do it. And when the time is right – jump.

This topic keeps me up at night and even pushes me to write to myself as a reminder to NEVER forget.

So, I now write to you. Never give up on your dreams, your calling, your purpose. Don’t dismiss the idea. Think on it, figure it out. Then do it. It is absolutely, never too late to be truly happy and to follow your dreams.

Yes, I am still alive

and writing. I’ve just been bad at it lately…so here is my attempt to tell a new story.

Last month, as you may be aware, was women’s history month. I don’t know how you are when it comes to months dedicated to everyone non-white male, but  I tend to think that the months somehow hit overkill around the 1970’s. Asian pacific heritage month? Irish American heritage month?? (which by the way shares its month with the Women in March) but what really cracks me up is universal human rights month in December (which I didn’t know existed…good job government).

Now, I don’t know how your organizations work, but the one I’m has to have a luncheon or SOMETHING to commemorate the month to whomever. That is also annoying…no month is really special because the celebrations are basically the same with a different reason.

Well, the invite came out for the – surprise – luncheon for Women’s History month. I of course had all intentions of not going (although I do happen to be a women). Until the boss of the medical clinic asked me why…which I promptly responded with “It’s kind of cliche for me to go”.

Terrible, terrible idea Viva – don’t know what I was thinking. He then proceeded to go into a history lesson about the contributions of women in history, and how their roles are constantly downplayed because males have always written history.

Then it hit me – I used to think this way. Actually I do think this way and he was basically lecturing me on something I already agreed with. What is wrong with me? Where did I loose my appreciation and knowledge of the struggles women had to go through just so I could serve! It was only 40 or so years ago really….and even less to gain equality in uniform.

Basic point – while the months are still annoying, the cornucopia that is America and its history is an important thing to remember and celebrate. Don’t loose the importance of your heritage and the people who fought for you to get where you are.

(although I still vote that Black and Women’s history month are the only ones that deserve a month)