K: Lately it feels like we've been learning new information non-stop... this blog has never been busier! We've gotten a majority of our information from the message board I referenced in an earlier post. The experience of having complete strangers from all over the world who are caring in their messages and willing to take time out of their day to share their experiences and advice with us has been so refreshing. All I can say is Mark and I are going to be very busy sharing our experiences and advice with the "newbies" when this is all said and done.
We have learned that I am eligible for a returnee (F4) visa, which is a special visa for Koreans who have immigrated (or been adopted) living in another country. This would enable me to work as a private English tutor, which is far more lucrative than teaching in a school or hakwon. Plus, I wouldn't have to be tied to a contract with a school, which is nice because the school wouldn't "own" my visa - meaning if I hated my job, I could quit without being sent back to the U.S. From what I hear, this is the problem most westerners have when teaching in Korea - tthey get suckered into a bad contract and are stuck since the school technically owns their visa.
We also received this very specific advice today, which is so cool:
"Many organizations offer help for Korean adoptees wishing to visit or re-locate to Korea. KoRoot has a lovely villa near the Blue House, the Korean White House, where you or your family can stay for a few dollars a day. Only adoptees and their families can stay there and it's a great place to meet others in your situtation. Check it out online---- www.Koroot.org Also contact www.goal.or.kr This organization has around 200 active members who are currently living and working in Korea. They will help you with everything. And, on top of that, they're a lot of fun to hang around with as they have weekly activities, and occassionally score free tickets to theater, etc."
Mark and I looked at both websites. The KoRoot house is located in Seoul and looks kind of like a dorm, but the price is unbeatable at $15/day. They seem like a group primarily dedicated to helping to ease the transition for kyopos. They provide events for adoptees to attend to get to know each other, offer various tours of Korea, provide Korean language lessons, teach about the culture, and even provide career counseling for adoptees (like me!) who would like to stay in Korea and work. After seeing that web site, Mark and I were thinking it would be cool to possibly stay there for a month to acclimate ourselves and have the opportunity to travel and improve our Korean before trying to start full time jobs. Just another idea to throw into the mix. :-)
The other organization seemed like it would be helpful as well: it seems to have similar goals to the KoRoot house. From the website:
Global Overseas Adoptees' Link (G.O.A.'L) is a non-profit organization and a NGO consisting of overseas Korean adoptees (OAKs) and native Koreans working together to locate birth families and experience Korean life and culture.
1. Contribute to adoptees in identity formation and understanding Korean culture2. Share the anguishing experiences of unmarried mothers, adoptive families and adoptees3. Improve Korean domestic adoption culture and contribute to the betterment of adoptees' rights.
Just knowing that we would have these resources available to us to help ease the transition and provide support is so important. This information has sort of answered my decision (or rather indecision) from my earlier "Would you rather" post. There is no better time, this is something we can do, we can scale the hurdles and make this a reality. WE ARE GOING TO LIVE AND WORK IN KOREA FOR A YEAR!!!!!!