Name: Lisa Crone
Occupation: English Teacher and Teacher Trainer
Hometown: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Length of time in Gwangju: 2 years and 2 months and Korea:7 years and 2 months
My hometown is famous for . . . snow.
I have never been able to . . . say no.
If I could have any superpower it would be . . . mimicry (absorb another’s powers or skills).
A great book I would recommend is . . . The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.
My nickname is . . . fresh.
The show I am most likely to binge watch is . . . Vikings.
My favorite sport to play is . . . soccer.
The food I make that I am best known for is . . . chicken soup.
The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is . . . the Gwangju Animal Shelter!
On my days off I like to . . . organize endlessly.
My favorite movie is . . . Babette’s Feast.
What is your best tip for living in Korea?
I think the best tip for any traveler or expat is to not have expectations. Having expectations can lead to disappointment if they aren’t met. If there is something that doesn’t meet your expectations, see if there is something you can do to make it better. If there isn’t anything you can do, just accept it. If there is something you can do, do it.
What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick?
I think it helps to change your perspective. When you look at the sun and the moon, it is the same sun and moon that shines down on your family. Being a world citizen isn’t easy but just remember that you are still on the same planet. Sometimes I watch videos about how big the universe is and it makes me feel closer to my family knowing we are on the same dot in the vastness of space.
Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you.
I was born extremely fast. My mom woke up feeling labor pains and within 10 minutes her water broke and felt she needed to push me out. Luckily one of our neighbors was a retired nurse so she rushed over and made it just in time to grab me when I came out. She knew to clear my nose so I could breathe. I was okay and was taken the hospital in an ambulance with my mother. My two other siblings were also born quickly but my mom was able to make it to the hospital in time. The family doctor told my mother that she doesn’t feel labor pains or just has really weak labor pains.
Describe your favorite travel destination.
I highly recommend traveling to Taiwan. I traveled there four years ago and absolutely loved it. Taiwan is a really unique place due to their complicated history. You can learn a lot by talking to local people about their national identity. It’s also a beautiful place to visit. I really recommend going to Kenting in the south. It’s great for surfing or body boarding as it can get quite wavy. There’s also some great night life and food. Check out the local markets for seafood and if you need a place to stay, the Bluehi Hostel is great. The owner “Joey” drove us all over and spent a day with us body boarding in the water. It was lovely.
What business/organization do you run in Gwangju?
“GACHI” Gwangju Animal Care Humane Institution. I don’t run it but I’m a founding member. Right now, we are trying to raise money so that we can get office space and register as a non-profit. The Korean founding members are currently part of an animal rights group called “Bodumi” but they wish to push their activist efforts further by becoming a registered charity. This will help them get more active members and get monthly donations.
I organized a volunteering group on Facebook for foreign residents. So far, we have around 63 members but only about 10 are active. We go to the shelter every Sunday to walk dogs. I’ve gone about 10 Sundays in a row and now all the dogs know me well. When we walk in they get excited because they know they are going to go for a walk. If you want to join this group, you can search “Gwangju Animal Shelter Volunteering” on facebook and join us.
Why in Gwangju?
Animal rights and welfare issues are a problem in all countries but Korea has some particular tough issues such as the cruel dog meat industry. There’s a lot of work to be done in Gwangju because Jeollanamdo rural residents are not educated about basic animal care. They also support the Gwangju Animal Shelter by offering advice. One of the bodumi members who is organizing GACHI worked at the shelter 15 years ago when it was the best managed and operating shelter in the country. Other shelters visited the shelter and learned from them. Since then, the shelter has had its ups and downs but it is currently being run by a new manager and has improved.
What is the best part of your day?
When I go to the shelter, we walk big jindo dogs. They are really an amazing dog breed. They aren’t the easiest to own but if you put the effort into training them, they can be the best dog you’ll ever have. They can live with you in an apartment but need daily walks to keep them happy.
What can be the most difficult part of your day?
It’s disappointing to see so many dogs in the shelter and most of them haven’t been adopted. The shelter is doing their best to advertise the shelter by doing walking campaigns in different areas of Gwangju. However, the amount of dogs coming in far exceeds the amount being adopted.
What is the thing you wish more people knew about GACHI ?
GACHI is a really important step in animal welfare/rights in Gwangju and this region because they are focusing their time in education. In the long run, education is needed to control the dog population. Things like neutering/spaying cats and dogs, micro-chipping and registering dogs, and just basic care like training and walking dogs are not always practiced here. There’s also unregulated breeding and people who buy dogs online or in pet shops don’t realize they are supporting these illegal businesses.
What is the best advice you can give to people who use your services?
If you want to help animals in Korea long term, you can support GACHI by donating to the gofundme fundraiser that I started. Once GACHI is organized more, I will be sending out information to become a member. They want to get at least 100 members who can give monthly donations.
What advice would you have for people looking to start a club like yours?
If you are interested in any kind of cause, see if you can join a Korean organization. It’s not that difficult to do and it just takes some effort. As foreigners, we can do more to help our communities other than just English teaching. Give back to the community by joining local groups.
The Gwangju Animal Shelter Volunteers Group plans the Walk and Cuddle Dogs and Cats at the Gwangju Animal Shelter events every Sunday–the next one is April 10 from 9 A.M. – 5 P.M. You can also just show up there anytime Mon-Sun 9am-5pm and walk dogs or just cuddle with them. There are cats there that need love too!
Gwangju Animal Shelter