For Abby Long ’12, following her dreams meant going far – all the way from Waynesboro, Pa., to Deokso, South Korea.
Long, who graduated with a degree in English, started learning Korean as a hobby after graduation, simply because she had an interest in Korean pop culture. During the same period, she took an online course to earn Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification.
“I realized I could learn Korean and teach English by finding a teaching job in South Korea,” said Long, who applied at the Connexus Language Institute, a school associated with the Korean Anabaptist Center.
Long landed the job in April and arrived in South Korea a month later, after having applied for an e-2 visa to teach abroad and researching the learning process for Korean speakers learning English. “I had some idea of where to start because I had been studying Korean before, so I knew where Korean and English grammar really differed,” she said.
She says she found it humbling to live in a country where she was unable to communicate very well. “At the same time, the willingness of every Korean I’ve met to use any bit of English they knew to try facilitate communication has been so touching,” said Long, “and makes me feel welcome and at home.”
At Connexus, she teaches several courses, including phonics and conversational English. Her role as a teacher goes beyond linguistics, however: “There is a big focus not just on teaching English but also on living in community and trying to minister to the students holistically,” said Long. “Because of that, we spend a lot of time working on conflict resolution and restorative justice.”
Long says her English courses at Messiah and her education abroad experience as a student served as catalysts for her desire to teach English overseas. Now able to combine her skills in English with her passion for other cultures, Long says that her job in Korea is the perfect opportunity for her.
Story by Rose Talbot ’16.