In the words of Annyong, 안녕 (annyeong)!
I thought I’d start by telling you more about myself. My name is Gabrielle, but everyone calls me Gabi. I was born in Portland in 1991 and grew up an Oregonian in classic middle-child style, playing/bickering with my older sister, babying my younger brother, and always trying to hog the attention of my parents.
The moment I started school, I decided I wanted to be a teacher, and as soon as I learned to read and write, I was addicted. In second grade, when my classmates were reaching the last pages of their writing journals, I was cracking open volume 16. In third, I read the most pages in the school-wide reading log competition. In fourth, I was invited to mentor younger kids through the Start Making A Reader Today program.
That year, I also became a Dreamer. I Have a Dream supports kids in low-income areas throughout their education, helping them reach college and providing them with a scholarship once they do. Thanks to IHAD, I truly started to envision myself going to college and becoming the “teacher and author” I had been saying I’d be when I grew up.
When I was in middle school, my sister started studying Japanese and sparked my interest in it, too. Around that time that I also discovered Korean music online and became an avid fan of The Trax and DBSK. I was so fascinated by the pop culture and languages of these countries and hungry to learn all I could. I dreamed of one day going overseas to teach English and experience it for myself. JET and Fulbright were words tucked firmly into the back of my mind.
I started taking Japanese and German in high school and discovered a new passion. As a writer, I loved to arrange words until they sounded perfect, so figuring out the workings of a new language was amazingly fun to me. I also became an editor of the student newspaper, having put aside my dreams of being an author for what I thought was the more realistic aspiration of being a journalist… at what turned out to be the moment that the newspaper industry arrived at death’s door (hindsight sure is a funny thing, isn’t it?).
Naturally, being stubborn and young, I continued with mass communication and Japanese at Linfield College anyway (majoring and minoring, respectively). I spent an amazing semester abroad at KGU just outside of Yokohama, played on the lacrosse team and became interested in public relations. At Linfield, I was a conversation partner, a buddy, and a writing assistant to international students. I loved working with them so much and was filled with an undeniable urge to return to Asia. I decided to take a chance and apply to the Fulbright program as an ETA to South Korea and to the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. With a lot of hard work and unceasing support (thank you so much, Linfield mentors!) I was accepted to both, and made the hardest decision of my life.
You’ve probably gathered what happened next. Here I am, leaving on July 4th for a year as an English Teaching Assistant in South Korea, and I could not be more excited or grateful. Feel free to ask if you have any questions, and thanks for reading this blog and coming on this journey with me!