Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why ask why?

As my second week in Korea comes to a close I find many of my fears dying away but I also find that a certain level of frustration is taking its place. Whether because of the logistics of work, lack of services I had grown accustomed to in the US or simple communication issues I find myself needing to take small timeouts to remind myself that everything is fine (or at least I hope it will be).

I think my greatest frustration centers around the simple question of "why?" Since moving here I have grown better at being able to communicate with others around me by using my body language, my almost non existent Korean or, most normally, their limited English. I have become better at speaking more slowly and using simpler vocabulary in order to be better understood. (It is weird hearing myself talk here because I just don't sound like myself) Likewise I have become better at understanding what my co-workers are trying to tell me because I have become more accustomed to their pronunciation of English, the way they structure their sentences and basic words they use that although they are English are used in a Korean way. Basically a co-worker and I can be using the exact same words but mean something completely different. But what has not changed is the simple fact that I just never, or rarely, get to know "why". I am told what places I have to be, what papers I must sign, what classes I must attend, what social events I am going to and so much more but every time I ask why I almost always get a kind of blank stare and they say they do not know how to say the answer.

The questions "what," "when," "where" and "how" have all maintained some level of existence in my life here in Korea but the "why" has been lost and that is both upsetting and frustrating for three reasons. First is the simple fact that I never really have a clue of why I am doing what I am doing and it makes it very difficult for me to plan ahead or set proper expectations for the events unfolding around me. Second and more bothersome is the fact that when you can't learn why something is happening it becomes very difficult to learn from what is happening. Why do we use certain games in one of the 5th grade classes but not in the next class of 5th graders even though they are learning the same lessons? Why do I need to go to one meeting for all the teachers but not another especially since both are in Korean and I have no idea what is happening in either. And lastly I'm just curious. I always like to know why that's just who I am.

But these frustrations do not offer any solutions so instead I simply struggle to find relief. I have basically just stopped asking why whenever I am told to do something. It seems to be a fruitless exercise that only leaves me wanting. I am trying to not worry about it so much and just stop caring about understanding every little thing but so far that just hasn't worked. I wonder why that is?

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