Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jeonju University (I GOT A JOB!)

Hey y'all.  Guess what?  I got a new job :)  Eeeeek!!!  

I've been holding it close to the vest for a while, much like I did with my original news that I was moving to South Korea last year, but I am beyond excited!  

I will be an English Instructor at Jeonju University in Jeonju, Jeollabukdo, South Korea.  Jeonju is a beautiful little city located about an hour and change north of Gwangju, my current city.  

I got that university job I was hoping for!!!  I got it!  Can you believe it?  I saw the job listed on the Korea Job Board at Dave's ESL Cafe.  Jeonju University is a private Christian university.  The job listing specified that they were preferably seeking a Christian for the post.  My first reaction was HEY I'M ONE OF THOSE! ...and then I saw that it's a 2 year contract.  And I kinda backed up. And then I felt a gentle nudging and a voice in my ear saying "Zara, you love Korea. You told me you'd be willing to stay a year and a half, what is two years?" and "Do you trust me?"  Yes. So I applied.  

I heard back from the school on the day after Christmas.  They asked if I could come down THE NEXT DAY for an interview and demonstration lesson (any subject, any style).  The next day??  Ahh!  My supervisor and coteachers were really supportive (they know how much I wanted a uni job) and they took care of my classes and let me take a sick day to go interview.  I quickly planned a 10 minute lesson for intermediate freshman (a quick intro to geography and maps, with a homework assignment and group project - so much fun!) and practiced it on my friend who was over at my place that night.  

The day of the interview, I woke up early (I texted a picture of my interview outfit to my mom.  She said I needed shoes. I was like, MOM, I'm in Korea. We don't wear shoes inside!!) and headed to Jeonju!  I texted a core group of folks to be prayer warriors for me.  I was so excited about the interview and really had a lot of peace about this one.  I wasn't nervous, though, which would be surprising, but for God.  
The past couple of months, I kept feeling God telling me "wait."  I was starting to freak out a little about jobs, but that still small voice encouraged me to be patient.  (God always seems to do that in my life.  I never have a long lead-time on big changes in my life.  Just when I think I've waited too long and missed opportunities, He sends something AMAZING flying in from left field, the perfect fit, the perfect timing.  Why do I always doubt him?  I'll never understand.)  
So after all that waiting, all the resumes I sent out, all the stressing and all the praying I'd done, He sent me this beautiful job posting. He sent me peace about it.  He sent me an interview.  If He wanted me to have it, I knew I'd get it.  I was very excited, but I honestly wasn't nervous.  

Que best interview ever. 

I walked in to my demo almost the moment I got to the university.  I had 8 students to "teach" - and can you guess how many copies of everything that I'd made?  Eight.  Awesome, right?  The lesson went over well!  One of the students asked "professor?" at one point and I thought, "Huh?  OH that'd be me!"  HA! 

Directly following the demo lesson, I went in for my interview.  It was so comfortable!  Because of the Christian aspect of the school, they asked me about my faith (hooray!), and when they asked about how I became a teacher, I got to be really honest about how God had worked in that huge life transition.  Usually, I keep the "God gave me a heart for orphans, the lost, the least, blah blah blah vision blah blah blah education degree" part of the story to a minimum, cause religion freaks people out, but I was able to speak about that this time!  They asked about my time at ALC in Houston and asked about some of the most challenging things in my few years as a teacher, both at ALC and at Brighton.  I told stories about when a kid flipped over a desk on my first day subbing at ALC and how I was saved by the bell as I stepped between two thugs as they almost got in a fight (I learned not to do that ever again).  I told about watching my kinders grow and become more comfortable in English and how much fun it is to see them develop their skills over time.  They asked what I'd bring to the table and I said that I'm positive and enthusiastic.  They asked what my biggest flaw is and (without missing a beat) I said time management.  Hello.  Y'all know that's true.  

I was so at ease the whole time!  I've never been so comfortable in an interview.  Plus, Jeonju is beautiful, the university campus was beautiful, the classrooms that I saw were state-of-the-art, the staff that I met were really friendly, not to mention they reimbursed me for my travel expenses, so that was an extra bonus!  I saw another interviewee go in for his interview as I was leaving.  He actually looked like a professor: older gentleman with a beard.  I thought, "well, that was fun.  At least it was good interview and demo teaching practice!"  

I wandered around Jeonju for a while and took some photos in the Hanok Village (see below).  It's a beauuuutiful area of the city that's really famous, at least in our province.  I ate some delicious bipimbap, which was invented in Jeonju.  I saw the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, where they housed important stuff the portrait of King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty.  I sat and prayed in the most beautiful church I've seen in Korea - Jeondong Catholic Church.  I wandered around a bit more and then headed to the bus terminal to head back south to Gwangju. 

As I was getting on the bus to come home, I got a call.  Four hours after my interview, I got the call.  They offered me the job, I accepted, and I'm moving to Jeonju in March!!  I'll be teaching Freshman and Sophomore students.  YOUNG ADULTS!  I'll teach English conversation, reading, writing, and a culture class based on a video series.  I will be living in South Korea for two (2) more years.  I know, I know, it's scary and amazing!  I have a lot more vacation with this position, so I will be home in Texas for a visit this summer.  Thank you for praying for me, if you were.  This job... y'all, I am so excited!  All the prayers.  All the waiting.  This feels just right.  I feel God working in this in a big way.  I'll post more details as I know more, but God has been so faithful in this transitional process.  I couldn't be happier!  

The beautiful view of Jeondong Church from within Gyeonggijeon

Jeondong Catholic Church

It was still within the 12 Days of Christmas (between Christmas morning and Epiphany) so they still had the Nativity set up!!  Another big God moment for me, cause I'd been internally whining that I didn't see a Nativity the whole Advent season in Korea.  Yay!!

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn"

A replica of my absolute hands-down favorite statue in the world.
La Pieta by Michelangelo, Mary holding Jesus after the Crucifixion
(The original is in St. Peter's in the Vatican)

The architecture nerd in me was GEEKING OUT

The sunlight streamed through the stained glass and left these gorgeous pools of light around the sanctuary

I haven't seen western church architecture like this in so long!

 Just sitting in an atmosphere like this is an act of worship. Architecture, light, spirit. 

I have a thing for stained glass and the stations of the cross

Memorial for the martyrs in Jeonju - I'll post more on that another time 

Simply beautiful!  I'm so glad I wandered around after my interview!

Delicious Jeonju bipimbap!  I forgot to take a picture before I dug in cause I was starving, but here's the after pic ^^

Gyeonggijeon Shrine


A diorama of how Jeonju Hanji is made.  Hanji is a very nice, durable paper that is famous all around Korea. It's been used to decorate homes, transcribe ancient documents, and all sorts of other things

Mini scholars reading on hanji

Royal painting


Royal hanbok (and baby hanbok)
The king's transportation diorama
The king's actual transportation!


See you soon, Jeonju! Because...


  1. Agh that is soooooooooooooooo awesome! (See? I back-tracked and found this post! I fasted from FB and blogs in January and still have many holes... haha!). Congrats, girl!!!

  2. Hi Zara!

    You don't know me, but I am like you once were, a Christian in Korea praying for a job at a Christian university. My wife and I have been blessed to belong to a wonderful church here in Busan where she helps run the powerpoint and I lead worship. We also lead a community group together once a week. Since our arrival in Korea in 2011, I've been praying that the Lord give me more opportunities to further His kingdom and I'm hoping 2014 is the year!^^

    I'm writing to ask for your help. Is Jeonju University looking to take on any more professors in 2014? A two-year contract would be exceptional! If not, do you have any connections with other Christian universities around Korea? We are willing to go wherever the Lord takes us.

    If you have any questions, I'd love to share more about myself and my heart for ministry.

    1. Good for you! I'd suggest to keep a wary eye on various job boards. That's how I found mine. I hope you find something! Keep following the Lord. His plans are infinitely better than our own. I always end up liking how things turn out more than what I had been seeking.