Gwangju Blog

People You Should Know in Gwangju: Susan Sahab

headshotName: Susan Sahab

Occupation:  Elementary school teacher in Hwasun for JLP

Hometown:  Tampa, Florida

Length of time in Gwangju:   A year and a half.

My hometown is famous for . .  . pirates, cigars, strip clubs (really), craft beer, Cuban sandwiches (come at me, Miami), Busch Gardens, and internet sensation Peter Pan/Randy Constan, who happens to be super cool and kind. Look him up. You’ll know.

A great book I would recommend is . . . the graphic novel series Saga by Brian K. Vaughan. This isn’t something high-brow but I guarantee anyone would get sucked into Saga even if you’re not into reading comic books. It’s beautifully drawn, the story is exciting and fun, and most importantly it’s very relatable. I’m a casual reader, and even more casual graphic novel reader, and I’m completely sucked in. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is my other suggestion. House of Leaves is beautifully written, but a lot to take on. I don’t think I’ve seen a book quite like this, although I’ve heard of some similar to it. It’s hard to explain this book but I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t blown away by it.

An older digital drawing requested by Susan's friend for an album cover. The idea was to use mixed media in layers over the print to create the cover.

An older digital drawing requested by Susan’s friend for an album cover. The idea was to use mixed media in layers over the print to create the cover.

Seriously, go read it.

The show I am most likely to binge watch is . . . Game of Thrones! You find so many things you’ve missed the second time around. The truth is that I binge watch a lot of shows, especially now that I can watch Netflix on our PS4. I’m almost done with Transparent, which is really brilliant, and I’ll probably start up House of Cards next because I’m the last person I know to watch it and that makes people angry.

The food I make that I am best known for is . . . my lasagna, I think. It gets requested more often than other things I make. I mean, I don’t want to brag, but it’s pretty legit.

My favorite movie is . . . the 40 Year Old Virgin. I’ve watched this movie so much I could quote it. I’m that person. Oh, and honorable mention to Miyazaki. His movies are emotional, whimsical, visually beautiful, fun, and complex.

How did you end up in Gwangju?

I originally wanted to teach in Japan through the JET program but realized it may not be the best fit for me at that time. My boyfriend and I came across information about teaching in Korea and decided that would be a wiser choice. We were rejected by EPIK as they could not place us in the same city and were starting to feel a bit discouraged. We almost went with a hagwon but came across JLP during our search. The process went really well and here we are, starting our second year.

Progress shot; original sketch and a detail shot of the hand Susan was working on. Painting is unfinished.

Progress shot; original sketch and a detail shot of the hand Susan was working on. Painting is unfinished.

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju?

I’m a photographer for the Bibimbap Magazine and an art instructor for the Gwangju Art Classes held at the GIC every Saturday at 12:30 pm. Myself, Áine, and Jen take turns teaching these classes on the weekends. We each offer something unique, which I think helps us keep the classes fresh. We’ve been on break this winter due to vacation but we’ll be starting things up again very soon! To kick start it all we have a GIC Talk on March 5th at 3 P.M. to discuss what we have planned for the year as well as some info about our art backgrounds.

We will also present our Gwangju art collaboration called 5×5: Community Art Wall Project People living in and around Gwangju are welcome to create a 5 inch by 5 inch piece of art to be displayed at the GIC. We hope this brings a sense of community and kickstarts some creativity.

What is your best tip for living in Korea?

Be open to trying new things and really mean it, find a community or a group of friends you feel comfortable with, keep yourself busy, and try to be laid back. Things change often here and it’s best to just roll with it. I also really stress the “keeping yourself busy” tip. My first year was spent kind of figuring things out and I always kind of felt unfulfilled once I got tired of going out every weekend. Getting involved with the magazine and the art classes has forced me to always do something different. More importantly, it forces me to keep creating.

A gift for Susan's friend when they transferred away from the small town of Hampyeong last year. Featuring: nabi, stray cats, and a weird bug pyramid outside their apartment buildings.

A gift for Susan’s friend when they transferred away from the small town of Hampyeong last year. Featuring: nabi, stray cats, and a weird bug pyramid outside their apartment buildings.

What is your favorite game to play?

The best game to play in the world is called “Genie.” You take on the role of the Genie and grant your friends 3 wishes. One wish must be what superpower they want (teleportation, invisibility, etc.), the second wish has to be an item or an object (real or magic), and the 3rd wish is a wild card. Once they’ve chosen their wishes, you, the genie, grants each wish with at least one stipulation attached. It’s important your friends are unaware of how awful you are as a Genie and that you have no intention of making any of these wishes come true in a pleasant way.

One time someone told me they wanted to teleport as a super power, so I just made it so they have to be naked when they arrive at the desired location. They also arrive wet and kneeling aka the naked Terminator couching stance. Also, they can’t teleport within 100 meters of any form of clothing or fabric large enough to cover yourself. It’s like the monkey’s paw, but more juvenile and petty.

 

Susan is one of three art teachers for the classes at the GIC, which usually run from 12:30-3:30 P.M. on Saturdays. The art classes kick off again this weekend with a special 5×5: Community Art Wall Project taking place during the GIC Talk at 3 P.M. Everyone is welcome to come and participate.
Gwangju International Center
동구 중앙로 196번길 5 1층, 2층
(Behind the downtown location of Nonghyup Bank)
Gwangju