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2017-09-12 17:28
By Choi Shi-yong



I am a fervent learner in the areas of English-language education and applied linguistics. I have often attended the KOTESOL, ALAK, KATE and PAAL conferences and have found them to be a great opportunity for professional development and networking with like-minded people. Nevertheless, attending the numerous presentations for two days is daunting.

By the time the KATE 2017 international conference at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies concluded, I was completely exhausted from continuously learning workshop materials; as soon as the conference ended, my initial impulse was to go to Yongsan Station to return to Gwangju. However, as my alma mater, Korea University, was within walking distance of HUFS, I decided to visit it instead, despite my fatigue.

It was quite exciting to walk down the familiar road between HUFS and KU after around 15 years. I passed by the cozy coffee shop where I had a date with a charming but bashful lady wearing a half-coat on a snowy winter day. When I unconsciously tried to touch her soft, white hand on the table, I felt her heart throb uncontrollably just as mine nearly burst with anticipation. What love! However, maintaining that love was much more laborious than I had imagined. Indeed, I had to endure such bitter sadness when she left me without any notice. Her phone was always off, even as I desperately attempted to contact her.

When the historical castle of an academic building came into view during my walk down memory lane, solemnity and wonder weighed down on me. I was reminded of a hopeful college freshman with such curiosity and zeal who was hurriedly looking for the entrance ceremony site on the first day of college. Looking back, he seemed so excited about meeting new friends and teachers and gaining positive experiences in his college life. He was a vision of a small-town boy so enchanted with his new Seoul life, and the many plans beaming brightly on the horizon.

Shaking off these old ghosts and visions from right in front of my eyes, I began to walk around the campus with renewed interest, stopping at the library where I used to spend a great deal of my college days after I had finished military service. The building conjured new visions of an energetic senior who was hastily walking from the economics lecture hall to his politics class. The classes presented him with various perspectives on social issues, but in many ways, made him feel learning about inscrutable economic laws and political theories was like swallowing a mouth full of sand. And yet, the initial difficulties slowly transformed into a pleasurable experience wrought from wrestling with such concepts at the library through the late hours of the night. I realized economic rationality is always at odds with political sentiments, and there are different approaches to solving conceptual disputes. I hastened my pace as I searched for more memories around the campus.

I found the bench on which I had often cuddled an adorable, elegant lady in the calm and deep of the night, and with whom I strolled on the campus under the starry skies. When we found ourselves without any words for each other, we hid under the darkness in silence. Love is beyond actions. Where is she now?  As swiftly as she appeared before my eyes, like a phantom, she faded back away.

Korea University! You taught me the values of freedom, justice and truth and nourished me to be a democratic citizen. As you endowed me with intelligent maturity and emotional growth, I must reward you by devoting myself to worthwhile labors. I will see you again in 20 years to share the stories of my new accomplishments with you.

 

The writer is an English teacher in Gwangju. He can be contacted at freddd@hanmail.net.

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