Tuesday, September 29, 2009


After years of advertising that I will be joining the military, I'm not.  I had a series of denial, anger, and frustration regarding my inevitable fate tied to my citizenship; until I psychologically settled down. As my graduation date came closer, I was braced for the imminent future.  I began to mentally prepare myself, thinking of what I would achieve in the 22 months of service.  And after passing the Army Translator Exam, I found out there was an opening for a math teaching position at KOICA, the Korean equivalent of Peace Corps that allows overseas volunteer jobs to substitute military service.  What an exit strategy!  As much as it is a way out of the dreadful military, it was also what I've always wanted to do.  Studying IR and a notable amount of international development, I wanted the "field experience."  And then, I had the chance to be a part of ODA, technical assistance, and of course, the target of aid skeptics.

The application process was long and dreadful.  It required a written application, knowledge tests, and an interview.  The knowledge tests were by far the hardest.  I had to write an essay in Korean, which I haven't done since middle school, and take an exam in Mathematical Education Theory.  Other than this exam, I've never taken a 20 question multiple choice exam that I had to guess every single answer.

Fortunately, I got the job.  I'll be teaching at a secondary school in somewhere in Tanzania.  I currently do not know the details of the job.  It's a 30 month commitment that started on August 13th with a month long basic army training (more about that later).  Currently, I'm on standby before job training starts in one week.  I won't be going to Tanzania until mid November, and won't start teaching until next January, yet, I'm already excited.

So, this blog is about my non-military service.  It's a way to show my family and friends about my new life a ta new home.  But it' also a place where I share my thoughts on ODA, technical assistance, aid skeptics, Tanzania, travels, the meaning of education, living somewhere really hot, the 2010 World Cup, frustration with government agencies (which I've already experienced so much), and of course, all the unpredictables.


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