My Favorite Things

by Cleo from Coreall on December 04, 2021



It's been two weeks since school started. This year, I'm teaching Non-Native Korean Years 1 & 4 AND Native Korean Years 1, 2, 3 classes. In the first week, we completed SEL (social-emotional learning) activities with BTS songs ("Whalien 52" & "0:00") and an ice breaker activity to introduce ourselves by sharing our favorite things.

Here's the sample I shared with my students to introduce myself!
This is the picture of my first Contiki Europe group trip in 2018. Before this trip, I’d spend my money on buying bags & shoes (as I worked in fashion before becoming a teacher), but this trip really changed my perspective. Traveling really teaches you many things that schools & textbooks can’t, and you will really discover many different things about yourself through traveling! Now, I don’t really spend money on material things but more on experiences. So far, I’ve traveled to S. Korea (of course), Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Budapest, Prague, and Greece. I’d love to visit Turkey next!
This is my favorite book! I love this book so much that I wrote about it in my college admission essay. My grandfather always told me something like “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye,” so this became my favorite quote from the book. It’s also the quote I’d love to remind myself every time I’m entering the classroom.
Here is the picture of my favorite BTS album! Many of you asked on the feedback survey why I’m so into BTS (lol), so here’s a bit about what happened when this album came out: I lost a very close family friend (an elder of our church) and was in utter sadness. Although “Boy in Luv” sounds more like a pop song, I loved the message behind the song. (It’s something like … accept everything around you and appreciate what’s around you?)
So, I was born and raised in Korea until about 14-15 years old and came to Queens with almost 0 knowledge in English. What made me study really hard, in a way, was wanting to get out of this place. I felt it so bad because I never really liked my surroundings, and my church of course was one of them. But the elder who passed away really worked hard to take care of the church community, which I always took for granted. Now that I’m older and really appreciate what he did for us, I try to make each day special by living in gratitude. Living in gratitude also really helps you enjoy life and fulfill your goals & dreams in the long run (because nothing is an overnight, instant success). Before realizing this, I kept feeding on negative emotions to try hard. But I really don’t remember all the things I did in college or even when I first began teaching because I got burned out at the end. Listening to more BTS songs and looking into their lyrics really helped me change my perspective to build my self-esteem and accept myself more.
My other favorite BTS songs (+ their lyrics!!!) include: “Epiphany” - This is a great reminder to love and take care of yourself first. Everyone lives in different frequencies, and you can’t please everyone.
“Persona” - We all have different roles at home, work, etc. and have different personas. Rather than saying some of these sides of you are ‘made up’ or ‘fake,’ accept them all! They are what makes you unique =)
This is an engagement photo I took with my husband. It was at Central Park, and I wore a modern 한복 (Hanbok, Korean traditional dress) in this picture. I think it aptly describes how I identify myself these days. Before I met my husband, I’d just say I’m “Korean.” However, as my husband is not Korean (but ABC - American-born Chinese), I feel closer to being a “Korean American” rather than just “Korean.”
You see, I’ve lived in the U.S. a bit over 20 years thus far, and this number will only increase from now on, so I’ve been thinking hard about what cultural heritage and values I want our kids to have (I don’t have children yet). This will be an interesting journey to document, and I’m looking forward to be a part of it!