I can remember it almost like it was yesterday: my half-open eyes staring at a bright computer screen or a dimly lit textbook, the clock flashing 4:30 a.m. while I take another sip from my bottle of Mountain Dew (that is what we used before “Hot 6”). I remember calculating if I could finish in time to take a quick nap, for even 30 minutes, before my impending 9 o’clock class.
Hello, my name is Woogerd Keith; I am an instructor at the University of Seoul (UOS), as well as the new foreign editor of The UOS Times. And yes, I was also once a University student, just like you.
If someone had told me 13 years ago that today I would be teaching at UOS in South Korea, I would have laughed in his face! To give a little background on myself, I am from Mansfield, Ohio, in America, and I was the first person in my family to attend a university. I did not declare a major until my junior year, when I chose two: Philosophy and English Literature. In selecting these majors, I remember distinctly that I was not concerned about what job I would have. I only wanted to learn more about the things that interested me most. Eventually, I completed my Master’s degree at the age of 25, and having been in school for almost my entire life, I decided to take a break. I moved to Chicago and worked for a headhunter company for the next four years.
However, the 9 to 5 lifestyle was not for me and my love of education eventually called me back, this time as a teacher. I combined this with my desire to travel and live adventurously, and that is how I came to Korea, a little over three years ago. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I greatly enjoy Korean people and their culture, and every day I live here, it seems that I am presented with something new and exciting.
In addition to that, I sincerely love what I do for a living. I have had quite a few jobs in my time (from waiter to groundskeeper to hotel attendant to researcher), so I can honestly say that being in a classroom does not feel like “work” to me. It is a place to expand your knowledge, share ideas and become a better person. As a teacher, I have always felt that my purpose was to instruct students how to think, not what to think. There is a big difference.
As a last word, I would like to tell all of you, whether you are a first semester freshman or a 5th year senior, to please take advantage of the opportunity you have as a UOS student. Right now you are surrounded by more interesting, creative and unique people of all ages and backgrounds than you might ever be again in your life. And that even includes your old teachers, who like me, were all once in your current shoes as well.