This week on the blog we are featuring Greenheart Travel alumni and telling the stories of “Where Are They Now?”. We handpicked alumni that are doing great things back home following their programs, and whose time abroad has shaped what they’re up to now. Lorin Husa is Greenheart Travel Teach in Korea alumni who also was a participant in the Greenheart Global Leader’s Conference in August 2018! Read on for more about what Lorin is up to and how her time abroad and at the GGLC has shaped her career goals.
I had the amazing opportunity to teach English in South Korea through Greenheart Travel. There are so many things I enjoyed while living in Korea that it is hard to just choose one favorite. I was placed in a small seaside town, which enabled me to fully immerse myself in the culture and learn some of the language. I am not fluent by any means, but I surprised myself with how much I was able to learn in a year. I taught fifth and sixth graders at two elementary schools and absolutely fell in love with my students. It was so rewarding to see the impact I was making on the students and I learned so much from them as well. I also made some great relationships with fellow expats as well as a close Korean friend, Hye Jin, who I am still in contact with today. Hye Jin was my co-teacher at my traveling school, and I have to admit, I was a little nervous when I first moved. While getting settled, I had some bumps along the way, but Hye Jin was so kind and made me feel so welcome. I wasn’t expecting to develop such an amazing friendship and although I loved being able to travel and experience something new and challenging each day, I have to say that my experience would not have been the same had I not met her.
However, perhaps the most memorable part of my experience abroad was getting the unique opportunity to volunteer at the World Peace Education Festival that was hosted in Korea. The festival was held over four days in May 2017. It included five hundred high school students from seven different countries who came to Korea to learn about world peace, teamwork, and leadership through various activities including cultural events, Paralympic games, and peacemaking banners. Students were able to decorate their banners with pictures or words written in their native language that represented what peace means to them. On the last day, we carried large banners that said: “I Love Peace, I Am A Peacemaker” as we walked along the DMZ advocating for peace and the unification of North and South Korea.
Oh yeah, and attending the 2018 winter Olympics was pretty cool too!
After completing my program last February, I moved back to my hometown in Northern California to spend some quality time with family. I am currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Communication and Global Leadership through Gonzaga University. I also had the amazing opportunity to participate in Greenheart International’s annual Global Leaders Conference in Washington DC last month. The attendees at the conference included forty amazing individuals from twenty different countries who were past participants of Greenheart International’s various programs. Throughout the conference, we developed skills for becoming global leaders through workshops, site visits, volunteer days, and guest speakers. Participants were divided into three tracks throughout the week: Environmental Sustainability, Mission-Driven Business, and Social Justice. I was placed in the Environmental Sustainability track and was blown away by the knowledge I gained, which only furthered my passion for the subject.
At the end of the week, a select few participants were chosen to give a speech at the Department of State to share their story of the impact that cultural exchange has had on their life. I am proud to say that I was one of the lucky few. I am still amazed and deeply humbled that my peers chose me to be a representative at the DOS. It was an indescribable feeling to be able to share my story and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to do so. Attending the GGLC solidified my passion for cultural exchange and ignited a fire in me to continue to support programs such as these.
In college, I studied abroad for one semester, but it wasn’t enough to quench my thirst for adventure. After living in South Korea, I can’t say that I’ve completely satisfied my desire to experience other cultures, but I can say that it has given me further passions. With each new experience I’ve had abroad, I’ve not only gained a better understanding of the culture I’m in, but I’ve also learned more about myself. Teaching in Korea was a priceless experience that inspired me to pursue my Masters in Communication and Global Leadership. Upon graduating next fall, I hope to go abroad again and to ultimately work in a field where I can inspire others to experience life outside of their own culture.
Most people would describe me as having a “Type A” personality. You guessed it- I’m kind of a control freak! I’m a planner and I love making lists, especially crossing things off my lists. I’m also a germaphobe, which made me very nervous to move to a country I’d never been to before. When my friends and family back home heard that I was going to move abroad, they thought I was crazy! If I’m being completely honest, I kinda thought I was crazy too. Although I’ve always loved traveling and meeting new people from other cultures, I was worried that my habits would prevent me from having a full experience. I’ll be frank, the first few months for me were tough. Korean culture is completely different from what I was used to. Besides, the language barrier and other major cultural differences, I also had to get used to the little differences as well. For example, I had to grow accustomed to no soap in the bathrooms (yikes!), so I adapted and started carrying wet wipes with me everywhere I went. I also quickly learned that Koreans tend to be very last minute, which was hard for my “Type A” personality to adjust to at first. Although these may seem like silly things to others, for me they were a big deal.
Living abroad taught me to let go and be more adaptable.
The beauty of living in another culture is to see things from a different perspective, to learn, and to grow. My best memories in Korea were not on a list I had created but were actually unplanned and spontaneous, which was a new concept for me.
Traveling can seem overwhelming, scary, and even negative at times, but I assure you that it will only benefit you in the future. As you can probably guess, I’m not much of a risk taker. However, after my experience living abroad, I wouldn’t consider traveling a risk, but rather an investment. I’ve learned that the best experiences are the ones that make you the most nervous, the ones that take you outside of your comfort zone. Take it from someone who used to be terrified of making a mistake, who planned every minute of every day, who never thought she would be capable of letting go. By letting go and fully embracing the adventure that I craved, I was able to learn and grow both personally and professionally. I truly believe that everyone should experience traveling abroad, as it changes your perspective on the world around you.
The idea of getting lost used to prevent me from doing so many things; however, living abroad taught me that it’s okay to get lost, in fact, I would encourage it. After all, you may surprise yourself. Take the leap. I promise you won’t regret it.