Ellie is from Asheville, NC and an alumna of the Korean AY 2019-20 program in Seoul, South Korea.

Intricate, colorful designs on the roof of a Buddhist Temple in South Korea

After a temple stay cultural excursion with our implementing organization, my curiosity surrounding Buddhism sparked. The temple was only a short bus ride from where my host family lived, and my host mother encouraged me to go back after I told her how much I enjoyed my first experience. I would visit on weekends, and would practice yoga or meditations by myself on the grounds. One of the Nuns whom I had met previously at the temple stay spoke to me while I was taking pictures in the snow. She invited me to sit with her and drink tea, and we talked for several hours, switching in and out of English and Korean. She was very patient with me asking for new vocabulary related to the temple that I was unfamiliar with, giving me room to make mistakes and try again when I couldn't quite articulate what I wanted to say.

While not only an experience that helped me grow tremendously in my language development, this conversation with her also gave me a more positive and reflective outlook on many of the experiences I'd had over the past months in Korea. This video captures some of the wonderful learning opportunity provided by language and cultural immersion, and how immersion in both language and culture fosters one's understanding of both to grow.