This week’s person you should know happens to work for our competitor…but we won’t hold that against her! She’s an outstanding writer with some great advice for you. Here, in her own words, is Ana Traynin…a person you should know in Gwangju.
How long have you been in Gwangju?
I moved here from Gangwon Province in April 2013.
What do you do here in Gwangju?
My full-time job is teaching English at Hanbitt High School in Damyang. I have also been volunteering as the Gwangju News Online Editor, interviewing and writing stories for the magazine and learning about local social movements, especially around education.
What did you do before you took up your current job?
After graduating from university, I worked briefly with a documentary film company before moving to Northern France for my first EFL stint. My first year in Korea was spent teaching at a public high school in a small mountainous town in Gangwon Province. It was a very interesting and unique first taste of the country.
What has been your most rewarding achievement?
I think seeing progress as a teacher and connecting with my students is the most rewarding thing, because it happens gradually, day by day. It’s unlike any other job and
a very special kind of connection.
What do you do for fun?
I like to ride my bike around Gwangju and Damyang, see live concerts and sometimes participate in them, travel around Korea and meet people involved in social change, spend time in nature, medidate, learn and practice Korean, read books. Sometimes just being still and doing nothing is the most fun.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
I point back to my first WWOOFing experience (volunteering on an organic farm) in Greece as the pivotal time for realizing a love of nature, good food and the importance of community.
Any family? Pets?
My biological family is scattered around the US, with a total of four cats and a large dog in there too. I have sadly not had pets in Korea. I like to think I build a chosen family wherever I stay and invest some time, like Korea.
What is something you wish you could do?
Develop and excel at a creative skill, like painting or playing the drums. Anything where I can confidently say ‘I do this well’ and share it for many people to enjoy.
Any embarrassing tales for public consumption?
People who know me may agree that I have a pretty high instance of awkward interactions in everyday life, so I don’t even know what’s embarrassing anymore!
Is there any person you admire?
Movements that advance new forms of education, sustainable community living and less dependence on capital. Sometimes these are the people doing the most mundane everyday work that achieves big results in the long term.
Any personal code you live by?
Live simply and clearly in the present. Learn from but don’t dwell on the past – and every passing moment is already the past. I’m still learning to follow this code!
What’s your “perfect” day in Gwangju?
A morning around my house, cooking, eating breakfast and drinking tea on my big roof to take in the view and get a feel for the day ahead. A meandering bike ride through the side streets through Chonnam University and towards downtown. A leisurely reading and lunch by the river, alone or with friends. A concert or art opening at SALT Gallery, followed by dinner at a Korean place and drinks anywhere. Staying up late to talk politics and social movement, or just shoot the breeze, scheme creative ideas and spontaneous music jamming. This happens pretty regularly and I’d love to throw in more movies at Gwangju Cinema in there too.
Is there any place in Gwangju you recommend?
Seondeoksa in Sangsu-dong is a temple with a cafe and community center up on a hill, with a view of the city. Different events at the space and nice walking trails into the hillside and a cool neighborhood to explore.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their life?
Have conflict with someone you love, live or work with. Learn to resolve conflict
with empathy, forgiveness and good understanding of boundaries. I believe our characters and strong relationships are based on the ability to push through uncomfortable situations.
Any advice you want to give the people of Gwangju?
Live with your eyes open. Take note of the changes happening in this fast-paced society, the people who are working towards a better future. Even if you have your set group of friends, places that you go and you’re tired or stressed after work, take the time to watch what’s going on in your neighborhood, people’s interactions, smiling or striking up a conversation with a stranger. Even ordinary life is brimming with beauty and opportunities and often the extraordinary comes out as well.