Musings
Maps and Markers: Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

Maps and Markers: Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

[This post is the first in a series called, “Maps and Markers,” illustrating a specific place on the coast of Colombia with a hand drawn map, marker and pen sketch, photos, and a short story about my experience or relation to that place.] Exactly a year ago, when I received my Peace Corps site placement in...
Integration vs. Polo Shirts

Integration vs. Polo Shirts

The public high school–where the teachers are always nice and I don’t have to wear a uniform. I hate polo shirts. Polo shirts remind me of soggy french fries floating in dirty dishwater mixed with hamburger grease and crusted hot fudge. They remind me of running around with plastic baskets of chicken fingers, wearing chunky black non-slip shoes...
I Live on the Beach: an update and some goals for the next two years

I Live on the Beach: an update and some goals for the next two years

So long to schedules. The nine-hour days of Peace Corps training have ended, and I’ve entered a period of transition and adjustment. A month ago, I moved to my site, La Boquilla, located on the beach, 25 minutes north of the center of Cartagena. La Boquilla is an Afro-Colombian, peri-urban community mainly comprised of fishermen....
A day in the life of a Peace Corps trainee: Colombia

A day in the life of a Peace Corps trainee: Colombia

5 AM: My battery-powered alarm clock buzzes next to my bed. I turn the light on, turn my fan off, pull on my running shorts, and tip-toe into the bathroom next to my host family’s room. To no avail, my host mom jumps out of bed the second she hears the slight creak of the...
It feels weird to not be alone.

It feels weird to not be alone.

Since I turned 18, I’ve moved around and left my footprints on four different continents. For the most part, I’ve initiated these endeavors on my own. I do my research (or lack thereof) alone. I fly alone. I walk alone. I ride buses alone. I book hostels alone. I meet so many people, but still,...
The homeless woman and the bus

The homeless woman and the bus

A few days ago, when the Colombian soccer team was scheduled to play Uruguay, some volunteers and I decided to chill at a pizza place and drink a couple beers after class. Wanting to explore the city more, we decided to meet in a neighborhood of Barranquilla called Los Andes, where some of the volunteers...
Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part III

Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part III

Day 3: I arrived at the third family’s home, where I met my host mother and her two grown daughters. One of the daughters and I walked towards the forest to collect kindling for the wood stove. As I piled fallen branches into my arms, I remembered a moment during my exchange semester at the...
Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part II

Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part II

Day 2: The clouds hung heavy in the sky; it was about to rain. The second family greeted me outside and ushered me into their ger–a round felt tent traditionally used by nomads. The mother, Amar, handed me a mug of suutai tsai, hot, salted milk tea. I sat on the couch and tried to formulate some...
Updates and a shout-out to my readers!

Updates and a shout-out to my readers!

Six or seven years ago, in her ripe 70s, my grandmother found a new boyfriend. “That’s so sweet!” I thought, “I guess we’re never too old for anything!” My older sister had a different reaction. “Nana has a boyfriend and I don’t?” She decided to solve that fiasco by online dating. At the time, I...
In Mongolia, don't be scared of shit.

In Mongolia, don’t be scared of shit.

Even though you’ll find yourself in a number of shitty situations. And yes, that is meant to be taken literally. I recently traveled to Mongolia for a couple weeks. I spent the majority of my time in the countryside, bumping along dirt roads and journeying to pristine lakes in northern Mongolia, and later staying with...
ㄱ through ㅎ: What I'll miss about Korea

ㄱ through ㅎ: What I’ll miss about Korea

It’s been awhile. My semester at GGU ended in June, so I packed my life into two bags and spent two weeks in Mongolia, living in yurts with nomadic families, drinking fermented mare milk, traveling by horse, and eating way too much goat meat. A few days ago, after a 14-hour flight to New York...
On teaching English conversation classes to Korean university students

On teaching English conversation classes to Korean university students

For the past two months, I’ve been a teacher’s assistant for two university English classes. These classes are not your typical mandatory English classes; they are designed for English translation majors–students who are devoting their lives to the English language. These students will be translators, interpreters and teachers. Particularly, these students should be the most enthusiastic about...