It’s not really relevant to the tragedy, but much like I remember exactly where I was on 9/11, I remember where I was on April 20, 1999, when I heard about what had happened at Columbine High School. I was ten years old, in the fourth grade, and I was with my dad on one of his side jobs after he’d picked me up from school. I think he was fixing a refrigerator or something at a bar or pizza joint of some sort. I remember sitting in the dimly lit bar watching CNN on one of the TVs most likely reserved for viewing ESPN mounted in the corner of the room, seeing footage of kids running frantically down the hill away from the school. I was a naturally anxious kid, but I always thought I was safe at school. Columbine was a watershed moment in the way it forced people to look at security in schools, our nation’s growing obsession with guns, bullying, and adolescent mental health. “Columbine” alone is one of those words that is inextricably linked to human suffering. Everyone knows what you’re talking about when you say it; there is no need for further explanation. Continue reading
When I was a senior in college, a friend introduced me to South Korean pop music and media, and I became so interested in the language and pop culture that I eventually applied to teach English as a foreign language there, since I didn’t make it into Teach for America and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with myself after graduation.1 I’d never studied abroad, and the only foreign countries I’d ever visited were Canada (which is not that dissimilar to the U.S.) and Italy (which has a slightly different culture but is still a western country).