[Whos Who in Seoul] ‘Make the Best in Life’
Ms. Walton is an English teacher at Dongnam Health College in Suwon. She is also a student at Ewha Womans University, where she studies diplomacy and security at the Graduate School of International Studies. She will get her master’s degree in international studies in August.
Walton is an only child, but has an army of friends and a long-suffering 17-year-old feline daughter named Kitty.
Hobby / Recreation
During her spare time, Walton enjoys reading, writing and traveling. Another thing she does for relaxation is rollerblading, a popular pastime in her hometown of Los Angeles.
Walton was born, raised and educated in Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s degree at UCLA. While doing her juris doctorate at UC Hastings, she lived in San Francisco.
She has visited Japan, China, Thailand, Russia and various countries in Europe. One of the places she considers most exciting is Tokyo, where the diversity of the expatriate community is simply amazing. The last time she was in Japan, she used English, French and German in one city block.
What has been your biggest adjustment in Korea?
My biggest adjustment would be the challenge of shifting from a teacher’s to a student’s perspective.
How has Korea culturally enhanced you?
Korea is the first foreign country I have lived in. I honestly think that all Americans should spend at least one year in a foreign country, preferably one that requires crossing the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.
As I was born and reared in a very diverse city and educated at one of the best research universities in the U.S., I thought I would be able to adjust easily to cultural differences. What I discovered, however, is that it was a huge challenge and I had a lot to learn. So, in that sense, Korea has been both a place to learn about myself and to learn about a foreign land and culture.
How have you culturally enhanced Korea?
That is an excellent question. Honestly, I think there is still very much a racial naivete in Korea. However, I think it is largely due to most Koreans essentially growing up in a homogeneous society, coupled with negative stereotypes and stories from the West.
Many non-Koreans were convinced that Korea would be a horrible place for a black American female to live and work. While there is racism in Korea, usually my education triumphed over concerns about my race.
By the time you reach university level you’ve studied long and hard to get there. I, along with other blacks that I know here, have been able to show that the negative stereotypes aren’t necessarily true. I’ve noticed an increase of ethnic minority teachers in Korea and I’d like to think that on some level I, and others, have ushered in that trend.
I’ll just say I’ve met some amazing people here, people who have taken chances, picked up and just moved to a new place. However, at times it seems that people forget Korea isn’t America or Canada, or wherever they’re from or wherever else they've been. It’s an adjustment that can be difficult even for ethnic Koreans coming home for the first time.
After a rough couple of years for me, I realized that my approach and my attitude is what made it fun or not. That’s not to say you’re not going to get cut off by one of the an ajuma _ the ajuma are older married Korean women who are known for being really aggressive on the subway _ or have someone cut in front of you in line.
However, it really is about taking the small stuff like that in your stride. When you must handle those situations, handle them being mindful that you’re dealing with another human being who has feelings just as you do. Even in those awkward culture clash situations.
I’ve found being as gracious as possible gets you much closer to what you want _ you may very well find out you have more in common than you think.
So I'll end it by summarizing with a popular adage: Your life, including your experience here, is what you make it.
I say: Make the most of it.
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