The goodbyes at Mulmancho were quite different than at Jiguchon. I didn’t really have any specific expectations for them, but was still startled by just how distinct the experiences were. Part of this was because of how close-knit Mulmangcho is as a community, I think. For example, two nights before we left, instead of our normal dinner there was a school wide cook out under the sunset near the treehouse that last year’s duke engage team had built, followed by a talent show! None of it was very sad or focused on the fact that we were leaving soon, and everyone was really excited and focused on supporting each other in the talent show. It was pretty magical, I have to say. The next night after dinner we were given some huge poster boards and told that we should all make some goodbye cards together (students and volunteers), and I expected it to be pretty sad and emotional, but the majority of the kids just wanted to spend their last bit of dedicated time with us drawing funny things on the cards and messing around (we all made sure to get our mushy messages for the kids written down amidst the cartoons). It was pretty touching actually. A few of the older ones, however, were a little more openly emotional about it. One that I had gotten to know particularly well kept surprise hugging me and telling me that he already missed me, which I had not expected from him. The next morning all the kids woke up a little bit early to take a group picture and wave goodbye as we drove off, and that was that. Few tears were shed, although sad smiles were passed around a plenty. It didn’t hit me ’til later that night how much our leaving must mean for the older kids. There are only six kids above the age of fifteen, two boys and four girls. The girls are mostly preparing for college entrance exams and are a few years older than the boys, who themselves are a few years apart. I can’t imagine going through such a formative period of life with no one of your own age to talk to, and having finally had friends of a similar age to talk to, the isolation must feel pretty intense.
After we left we spent a few days in Busan, which is a port city in the south east, and it was beautiful! Busan has it all, lemme tell ya; it’s historically fascinating, it’s got oceans, mountains, temples, markets, and practically anything else you could want (except Pokémon Go). As usual, the professors made sure the field trip included as much educational time as possible, and we visited some amazing museums and cultural sites. I won’t bore you with details that are more eloquently put elsewhere, but here are some pictures!
In order: The view from my hotel window, the former official residence of Syngman Rhee (first president of SK) which has been turned into a museum, Some cool trees outside of the house, Haeundae Beach before dinner, Haeundae Beach after dinner, the view from Busan tower, Gamcheon Culture Village (a colorful village set into the mountain that has been pretty well preserved for decades), Beomeosa Temple, a cool bell at the temple, and two pictures of the river near the temple that reminded me of the appalachians.