Instead, two recent incidents stand out to me.
This past week was Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in Korea, so I did not have work for the week. Instead, I did some exploring around my city of Daejeon. One day I was up hiking at Bomunsan Mountain, where I was repeatedly stopped by people asking if I needed directions or just looking for a chat--a chance to practice their English and to greet an American. On my way to the trail head, when I wasn't quite sure where I was going, a man led me until he got to his turnoff point, then passed me off to two older women who walked with me until they got tired and passed me off to a man who was heading my way. Even though I could have eventually found my way on my own, these wonderful people instead walked with me and guided me. Strangers took my picture when I asked them to; one man even gave me a lift back to the train station after my hike.
Each week I visit foreign migrant men at their places of residence. Their accommodations are usually much more humble than mine, and these men are, undoubtedly hard workers. Instead of resenting me my privileged, undeserved, position, these men (and sometimes women) are glad to see me and so welcoming. I am always given drinks or snacks. Last week I sat down to a very full meal of grilled seafood lettuce wraps with a big group of men from Vietnam. This Sunday I shared delicious food with four men from Indonesia. I shouldn't be eating their food, but they seem genuinely happy to share and eat together.
I am continually humbled by the friendliness, graciousness, and generosity of strangers around me. These people teach me much. I hope that someday I can be as welcoming and open hearted.