Experiencing Korea: The Trip to Daegu

So I’ve decided to write a series of posts about my Korean experience since, it’s been something I haven’t really done and felt the need to do.

Okay I know I have said that like may be a hundred times before, but I really, really, really, like traveling. No, I mean It doesn’t even have to be traveling to another country, as long as I am moving, seeing new places, meeting new people. Life on move is my kind of life.

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Let’s Talk About Racism

Awhile back, I participated in a four days workshop in Suwon, a small province located in the south of Seoul about Korea community development movement which is called Saemaul Undong. The training was held for foreign students from across South Korea. We were taught in the workshop about Korea and how they developed in a short time and went from agriculture to industrial development.

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What’s Happiness?

Long ago, I posted somewhere, “Learning to live a happy life”. I can still relate, I have and will always be a happiness-seeker. But, Whats happiness? I may not give you a precise answer, but I can tell you what happiness is to me.

Happiness is waking up early in the morning and start writing after 8 months of no writing!

Months ago, I stopped writing. I don’t know what happened exactly. The thing is passion for writing was still there, it’s been there all the way. But, writing itself became a painful practice. To want to write, but not to be able to write. After months, I am now slowly, slowly getting back to writing, first with started with poetry and here I am today writing my new post. I haven’t had breakfast or anything, right now nothing matters but putting ideas and feelings into words. I can’t find enough words and tell you how this feels like…

Happiness is taking a walk in the park in an autumn afternoon with your best friends

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An afternoon walk.

I know many of those who are madly in love with autumn. There is something different about this season, something that goes beyond just changing colors or that smooth feeling of the breeze on your skin. You can learn so much about autumn, it makes you adapt and accept change. And how about an afternoon walk in a park with your best friend to talk about all sort of issues on this planet, from politics to education to health to food, etc.

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Beautiful autumn.

Happiness is spending time alone and creating your own magical world

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A little note I wrote for myself on my birthday.

I like socializing, don’t get me wrong. But, I like spending time alone too, it makes me happy. I like sitting in a cafe shop all by myself and engrossing myself in a world of my creation. I love those small moments of imagination. I like to believe that everything is possible, even if that meant ‘possible only’ in my own world. Solitude makes me feel strong and powerful. Sometimes I don’t even have to be alone in a room to live moments of solitude. You can take me to a room full of people, and I can still manage to re-create and live a world of my own choice.

Happiness is reading an interesting book and living it!

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Ah.

I am a nerd. I have always been one, in school, in university, always. Reading a book of my interest is as fascinating as traveling somewhere I love to see. But, one thing is, I am a very slow reader, I can’t finish a book in just few days, at the same time, I can’t read a book twice. I love imagining, living, and foreseeing the story as I flip pages. I love remembering the characters, their features, things they love and things they hate, their lifestyle, everything (but I am not as good in memorizing names!). I make a whole new story in my mind while reading. Recently, I read “The peculiar life of a lonely postman”  by Denis Thériault and what a book! If you are a poetry person, and if you have some knowledge about Haiku and Tanka (two very old types of Japanese poetry) then you will definitely love the book. The book revolves around a postman who lives in solitude and chooses to fall in love with a woman he has seen in photographs only. I was so fascinated by his lifestyle that it took me three weeks to finish the book.

Happiness is going to the refugee and IDP camps, listening to and learning from their stories

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Schoolkids waiting to get inside the school in the refugee camp.

I started working with a Japanese NGO about 7 months ago. A big part of my job requires me to be in the camps almost everyday and it gives me a chance to meet new people all the time. I love that. I am the type of person that hardly stays in a job for more than three months if the job is not interesting. Ever since graduation, I have been going from one job to another. Many of the jobs I stayed just for days and left. May be it’s not a good thing. My family always worry about me. They think I will never be able to settle anywhere. May be they are right. But, this time I was able to stick to one job for 7 months (I am still working with the Japanese NGO).

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On the way to the refugee camp.

 I love waking up early in the morning and going to the camps. I am not the office type of person, I can’t sit behind the desk for days. I like moving. But, what makes the job more interesting is the small moments in the camps. I like it when a little girl runs after me, calls my name just so she could give me a little flower and a cookie. I love how people love it when I tell them I am there to listen to their needs and help. I love their warm welcoming and  hospitality. I love the cup of coffee they offer every time I visit their tents (more like a home). Every single day and incident lived in the camps, I will remember forever. And for that, I am so grateful.

Happiness is finding new passions in life and discovering new aspects about yourself

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On a rainy day…

About few months ago, I realized that a new love is coming to life inside me. It was love for photography. I have always appreciated the art of photography, but never in my life before that I thought I would carry so much love for it. Just about a year ago, I bought a new phone. I fell in love with the camera.

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Playing with camera.

So I started taking photos here and there. Surprisingly, taking photos made me happy. So I thought, why not go further and improve my skills. I opened an account on instagram and started sharing moments. I am still on the way learning about the art of photography. But, it’s not the destination that matters to me, it’s the journey. Beautiful and meaningful photos captured, is what makes photography so important to me. Just enjoy doing it!

Happiness is saving up money for a cause!

I used to think money is not important at all, but it’s not true. The fact that I see refugees and IDPs everyday, hardly surviving, living under difficult circumstances, makes me realize how important is to have money. Sometimes people approach me in the camps, old men, women, and even children and ask for money. It breaks my heart.

We need money to survive. I am not saying make money your final end, No. But, you need to be financially independent to support your family and yourself. The first time I got my salary, I was so happy. It made me feel independent. Sometimes you need money not just to support yourself, but others as well. Go out and pay a needy, a homeless, pay for education of a child, you can do a lot with your money, and this is both rewarding and beautiful.

Currently, I am on a mission to save money for some big plans for the future, I am not going to reveal them for now, but soon you will know! And I like that, I like taking out an amount of money from my salary every month and saving up for something important. It reminds me that I am saving up for a cause.

 

Those are few of my thoughts of happiness, what are yours?

The Solitude

She was the solitude

going back and forth

between imagination and reality

until the stranger came along

altered her world,

with every act of kindness

and what did she give him?

few unspoken words

on a blank paper.

 

 Ashna Shareff