Occupation: Guest English Teacher at Chonnam National University Middle School
Hometown: Maumelle, Arkansas
Length of time in Gwangju/Korea: 14 months
I have never been able to . . . play instruments.
If I could have any superpower it would be . . . . to fly. Never again ride an airplane or drive a car–hooray!
A great book I would recommend is . . . Green Rider Series by Kristen Britain. If you want to borrow my copy I have them with me. I reread these books often as they are my all-time favorite series.
The show I am most likely to binge watch is . . . Stargate or Dr. Who or Sailor Moon.
The food I make that I am best known for is. . . . cornbread casserole. I am a southern girl at heart and this is my grandmother’s recipe. Any time I go to potlucks back home this is requested for me to bring.
The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is . . . . Loft 28. This hip lounge is a nice place to relax with a drink or a homemade sandwich. If you are up for a challenge then you can try the escape rooms. They have two escape rooms for you to solve. On occasion they host themed events, like Latin dance lessons or a Masquerade party. There is also an outdoor patio in which you can rent out the grill to cook some food on the rooftop.
On my days off I like to . . . watch movies and read.
My favorite movie is . . . Totoro. I have always been a Miyazaki fan. I can watch any of his movies over and over.
How did you end up in Gwangju?
I was a full time mathematics instructor for 5 ½ years at a community college in Arkansas. I also was a part-time Zumba fitness instructor at a few gyms in the central Arkansas area. My life took a turn in directions I didn’t see coming and it got me to thinking about future plans. I wanted to go back to school for my PhD, but decided to have an adventure first. So I quit my job in the USA before I knew I had the job. I applied to EPIK and told them to send me anywhere. I took a huge chance and just hoped it worked out. I was in Honduras on a mission trip when I got the news that I had a job here in Korea. Everyone back home thought I was crazy, but I just felt like I needed to challenge myself as a teacher and person.
Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju?
I teach a weekly Zumba classes at the GIC from 7 to 8 pm on Wednesdays. I also occasionally attend the Language Lounge on Saturdays and Chess Club when we have meetings in Chonnam backgate.
What is your best tip for living in Korea?
Travel. Don’t just spend every weekend in town. Get out and explore this place you live in. You may not be able to come back if you decide to leave. I have seen so many beautiful things around Korea.
This is going to sound silly, but coming out of an American university system with no debt. I worked really hard in high school and was lucky enough to get scholarships. Then I repeated that again in college keeping my scholarships and then getting an assistantship for my graduate program. I didn’t realize how huge this was until I started living on my own and all of my friends and co-workers seem to still be paying off their college debt. I did it just because I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college and I wanted to go.
Describe your favorite travel destination.
JAPAN!!! I have been a huge Sailor Moon fan for many years. I got into learning about Japan through anime and was so interested in its culture. I took Japanese language classes and was an officer of the anime and manga society at my college. Even after leaving university, I still continued my interest in Japanese culture. It has been my dream to always go. I did get to visit Japan briefly with my friend from home last winter vacation. I plan on returning when my contract is up before heading back to the USA. I have always wanted to attend a cherry blossom festival in Japan. I will finally be able to make this dream come true next year.
Cailin teaches a weekly Zumba class at the Gwangju International Center on Wednesday nights from 7-8 P.M. The cost is 5000 won, which goes to cover the cost of the room and equipment, and the rest is a donation to the GIC. For more information check out her Facebook group, Zumba with Cailin in Gwangju. With the year winding down, December may be your last chance to try it, so don’t miss out!