There’s No Place Like Korea
Korea is not a place many American education majors go to put their degree to use, but Danver Chandler is not your average education major.
Chandler said she wanted to travel to Korea for vacation since she was five years old and her aunt gave her a book called Seoul ’88 about the Summer Olympics in South Korea. The book contained a beautiful dress being worn by a Korean woman, and she was amazed. It was at that moment when she told her mother and aunt that she wanted to go to Korea to visit. She never dreamed about living or teaching there.
After graduating from Southwestern in 2005 with a degree in education, Chandler drove to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University, where she received a master’s of education degree in curriculum and leadership development. She worked for the Nashville Public School District for four years before moving to Atlanta to take a job as a governess.
When the family she was working for unexpectedly let her go the day after Christmas in 2010, Chandler was not sure what direction she should take in life. Her professors at Southwestern had encouraged her to consider teaching overseas, so one night she got on the computer and said to herself, “I’m going to Korea.” Thirty-three days after that, she was in Korea.
Chandler settled in Gwangju, South Korea, which is Korea’s 5th largest town. Gwangju is roughly three hours south of Seoul, the capital city, and is home to more than 40,000 foreigners.
“Gwangju is great for foreigners,” Chandler said. “It has an international center, a cultural arts center, an abundance of parks and museums, and familiar western restaurants like Outback Steakhouse and TGIFriday’s.”
Chandler is teaching reading and speaking to first graders at a public-private school in Gwangju. She has been keeping a video journal of her experiences in Korea which is available on YouTube.
Chandler also has written two books and is working on her third.
Her first book, Teaching Purpose Consciousness, published in early 2011, was written for Paths to Purpose as a part of the movement to help parents help their children discover and cultivate their natural talents and abilities. It was also written to help teachers implement purpose consciousness curriculum in their classrooms.
The second book, Jobs for Teachers In Transition, was published March 2011 and outlines jobs in the field of education that other books never mention. “I wanted to help teachers who were struggling to find open teaching positions,” Chandler says. “I wanted to give them some hope and show them opportunities.”
Chandler said her upcoming book, There’s No Place Like Korea, will highlight her experiences teaching Korean children, the spiritual path she has been on and the characters she has met there. “This is the first time I will venture into my personal life,” she says. “I hope it will influence others and be a source of entertainment.”
Chandler feels that her choice to travel and teach in Korea is one of the best choices she ever made. “Right now, I feel like I am the luckiest woman on the planet to have had all of this happen,” she said. “I just feel like I won the lottery in life.” Chandler attributes much of her happiness to Maum Meditation, which she discovered in Korea.
Chandler said if anyone is interested in teaching in Korea or anywhere overseas, she encourages it. She said selecting an excellent recruiter is essential, but people should be sure to find a recruiter who speaks English and has lived in the country. “No one should charge you,” she added.
Chandler also said that Koreans take commitment seriously. “You should know deep within yourself that you’ll stay in Korea and be able to honor your contract,” she said. “And you can know this if you request to email and ask questions to previous employees (teachers) from the schools or hagwons (private schools where Korean students go for extra study in just about any subject) you are considering.”
Chandler said she plans to return to the United States in 2013, but is not sure where she will go. She wants to remain in education, but pursue some options outside of the classroom.
“At this stage of my life I need to let my creative side have a voice,” she said.
–Le’Loni Brown ‘13