In his autobiography, The Persecutor, Sergei Kourdakov shares many experiences that can be considered turning points in his life. One is when he finished schooling with the highest marks in his class, and another is when he joined the KGB. Some were more important than others, but turning points nonetheless. A turning point is, as described by the New Oxford American Dictionary, “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.” Reading his autobiography has helped me to examine some of my life and realize I’ve already had several events that have influenced who I am now or changed the expected course of my life. I want to share with you one recent turning point of mine.
I just spent an entire year in South Korea. If you have any doubts about whether or not it was safe, or if you think it is crazy to be living over there, you can put them aside. It is an amazing place. Most Americans only hear the stories and news reports about North Korea, and about all the threats, and missile testing going on but probably could not point out the two Koreas on a map. And further, they would probably never guess that the South Koreans are very relaxed and nonchalant about North Korea. Think about it, they have been dealing with them since the 1950’s! It is nothing new to them and they don’t seem very worried.
Flying over the Pacific Ocean helped me realize the enormity of the world. It took over 12 hours to fly from Los Angeles International Airport to Incheon International Airport! I didn’t have a concept of how far away Korea until I moved there. And although it is not as big as the States, it still takes four hours to drive from this peninsula country’s east and west coasts.
My younger brother and I attended a Korean martial arts training everyday for that entire year and made many good friends. The training was fun and something we had never done before, but the kids we interacted with while there were a big reason we kept going. We were able to attend the Korean church and make many friends there as well. The parties they hosted for the ward were always really fun to go to. The Korean members were always excited to see my family and I. One of the families that we befriended is actually moving to the States soon! Many of the youth and children there would come to me or my brother and ask us the simple questions in english that they were learning in school. I loved being able to teach one of my best Korean friends about sarcasm! One of the hardest things about leaving Korea was leaving behind all the good friends we made. We still keep in contact but I do miss them.
Me living in Korea has changed who I am and going to be in the future. I’ve always wanted to travel to other parts of the world, but now, after this whole amazing experience in Korea, I want to make friends with those all over the world try to live the way they live. It also helped me discover new things about me and things I enjoy doing and learning about like traveling, martial arts and speaking other languages. It showed me that even barriers as big as a different language can’t keep people from becoming friends. It showed me to appreciate the friends I make. I tried to start making friends as soon as I could when I moved to Wichita and I have succeeded! However, without my friends in Korea, I probably wouldn’t be as willing or excited to get to know people now. Korea was definitely a turning point for me because I am more excited and willing to make friends, and I also really want to travel now!