My name is Jared Way. I was born in California, and became an "adoptive" Minnesotan. Now I'm contentedly expatriated in South Korea.
For many years I was a database programmer, with a background in Linguistics and Spanish Literature.
I quit my well-paying job and starting in September, 2007, I spent 2 years teaching EFL to elementary kids in Ilsan (suburban Seoul), South Korea. From April, 2010, until April, 2011, I worked a public school position in rural southwestern Korea (Yeonggwang County). I have since returned to Ilsan and continue to work there.
As of June, 2013, I remain in Ilsan in South Korea, but I was diagnosed with cancer, and have been undergoing treatment. As a consequence, the focus and tone of this blog has changed somewhat.
I started this blog before I even had the idea of coming to Korea (first entry: Caveat: And lo...). So this is not meant to be a blog about Korea, by any stretch of the imagination. But life in Korea, and Korean language and culture, inevitably play a central role in this blog's current incarnation. Let's just say... it's a blog about whatever I happen to be thinking, that currently takes place in Korea.
Basically, this blog is a newsletter for the voices in my head. It keeps everyone on the same page: it has become a sort of aide-mémoire.
If you're curious about me, there is a great deal of me here. I believe in what I call "opaque transparency" - you can learn almost everything about me if you want, but it's not immediately easy to find. I also maintain a work-related blog on the Korean portal Naver: jaredway.com.
I like to take photographs. I'm NOT a photographer. Recently, I've been trying to consolidate my "good" photos and have opted to try hosting them at a website called panoramio - partly because I mostly take pictures of landscape or scenery and panoramio is well-integrated with google earth. Here is a slideshow of some of my photos.
A distillation of my personal philosophy (at least on good days):
I have made the realization that happiness is not a mental state. It is not something that is given to you, or that you find, or that you can lose, or that can be taken from you. Happiness is something that you do. And like most things that you do, it is volitional. You can choose to do happiness, or not. You have complete freedom with respect to the matter.
"Ethical joy is the correlate of speculative affirmation." - Gilles Deleuze (writing about Spinoza).
Geofiction - this has evolved into a significant "hobby" for me. I like to draw imaginary maps, and these sites enable this vice.
I have, in fact, been working as a volunteer administrator for OpenGeofiction for about half a year
now. I enjoy it, and I've learned a lot. I created and maintain the site's main wiki page: OGF
The above work has required my becoming an expert in the Openstreetmap system. Openstreetmap is an attempt do for online maps what wikipedia has done for encyclopedias. I have considered becoming an openstreetmap contributor, but I feel that my current location in Korea hinders that, since I don't have a good grasp Korean cartographic naming conventions.
I originally discovered the above site when exploring this site Urban Geofiction.
Another geofiction site Norscand. They recently linked to OGF, too.
TEFL - my "profession," such as it is.
Online English Grammar reference Grammarist. Useful for settling disputes over grammar.
Think about it. We could have built a high speed rail network for the whole country for that price - if you assume $100 million per mile construction cost (very generous), you could get more than 10000 miles of high speed rail.
I've been feeling a lot of stress, lately. The work cycle is at that typical September peak, as kids start their Fall semester at school, we wrap up the summer special classes, and enrollment starts heading for that hagwon-biz Fall surge. I have month-end writing tests to score, student comments to write, and new student interviews.
Further, there has been a kind of rumbling of parental dissatisfaction with the current state of the curriculum in the youngest cohorts. That means lots of wasted time in incoherent discussions and meetings about curriculum, and the resulting decisions which, inevitably, will not be the ideas I advocated for.
Layered on that is the fact that September 1 is the annual contract renewal date, which always forces me to contemplate, once again, the occasionally Faustian nature of my current, complicated, and unsatisfying relationship with my job, my host country, and the Korean healthcare system. It is easy to begin to wonder if it's all worth it.
Additionally, I was "volunteered" for some extra work, at work - of the least favorite kind, which involves sitting and mucking with a computer trying to transcribe some simply atrocious English conversations: Bad, non-native speakers talking buzzword-filled English to the worst kind of consonant-glottalizing, modal-verb-abusing, corporatese-spewing Britishers with stunningly loud background noises and interruptions. I feel like my willingness to be helpful is being abused, and of course it's hard when the utility of the work at hand seems dubious at best.
I have a hospital appointment coming up, too. I always dread those - anticipating them is much worse than just being there dealing with it. Having moved past the worst of the jaw necrosis problem last Spring, I enjoyed a relatively hospital-free summer after the Big Anniversary Scan in July. So my "just deal with it" reflex is rusty.
All said and done, I feel unhappy.
I am going to Seoul today to bid farewell (version 3.0? 4.0?) to my friend Peter, who is once again returning to the US, this time to start graduate school.
I learned this four character aphorism on my building's elevator last night.
強固無比 강고무비 gang.go.mu.bi strong-firm-no-compare "Incomparable strength and steadiness."
It can be made into a descriptive verb, too: 강고무비하다. The underlying meaning of this 고사성어 seemed more transparent than most - the dictionary definition given for the aphorism is simply: 비교할 수 없이 굳세고 단단함 (Incomparable firmness and strength).
In my low-level TQ cohort, including second and third grade elementary students, we were practicing a very low-level "interview" format, starting with "What is your name?" Beforehand, I had given them formulaic "frames" where they could fill in their answers, and had helped them fill them in.
Some days feel like things are going well. Some days start well but end badly. Some days I dread but end great. Some days are smooth like glass. Some days are bumpy. Some days give joy. Some days don't. Some days suck.
I found these two videos rather fascinating - essentially, in both cases the presenters step through discussing various dialects of the British Isles while at the same time reproducing those accents quite well.
I have a difficult relationship with various English language dialects: on the one hand, I find them fascinating and I work hard to be able to tell them apart; on the other hand, I am utterly incapable of consistently reproducing them in a sustained manner, which is weird to me, because I'm actually somewhat able to do something similar with various Spanish dialects. Is it perhaps that my own mother-tongue - Northern California English - is too deeply embedded and thus I can't seem to override it, while with Spanish, since no single dialect is deeply embedded, I'm more able to shift around the dialect space? Or, more likely, perhaps I'm really not that good at doing it in Spanish either, but I'm sufficiently incompetent that I don't realize what I'm doing wrong.