I’ve been a little bit AWOL lately, no?

We’ve been on our two month(ish) winter break over here in Korea. We still had to be at school a lot, but we haven’t had to do any real lessons since mid December.

We forewent going abroad like most NET (native English teachers) usually do over winter break. Again. Why? Because, the goal that we came here with has not changed: we are paying off our loans. That’s the same reason we’re still here and the same reason we will be staying for one more year.

Do we want to come home? Yes. Are we ready to come home? Yes.

But we’re here. And we have about fifteen more months of being here. Bear with us. Please be our friends when we get back.

Because about half of our friends left last summer and the most of the rest of them will be leaving us this summer, I’m not exactly looking forward to the next year here. We’ll still know people here, but none that we are extremely close to. I hope that changes with time. I have some friends who live in other towns in Korea, and one friend who is going to move here NEXT WEEK! So there are things to hold on to.

So how will I survive another year here? Simple: lots of planning for the future.

And one thing I’m pretty set on right now is a bit of a career change. Because I’ve become so involved, committed, and passionate about the anti-trafficking movement, I wanted to figure out how and where I can fit my skill set into the movement in a useful way.

I’ve been studying Korean and Spanish. I’ve been taking a class on HTML/CSS and web design. And now, after some advice from people who are already leading the movement, I’ve started to research more about getting certified as a substance abuse counselor. If I do that, I might be able to take some online classes while I’m here, and then I’d have about 1-1.5 years of more education when I get back. If we go this route, we’ll probably end up back in Iowa to do the education/certification… with the ultimate goal of going to Colorado. We at least have to give it a a try.

My hope is to work with women and girls who have been coerced into prostitution and sex trafficking. While I believe there are many women in the world who have consciously decided to sell their bodies, I’d speculate that most of them were coerced or forced into it. I personally believe prostitution should be legalized and law enforcement should work with prostitutes to keep them safe. Pimps should be taken out of the industry and johns should be put in a position where they know they can’t get away with violence (or worse) when they purchase sex.

In the meantime, women and girls (and some boys and men) are often hooked on drugs, which is a huge reason that many end up staying in the industry even if they wouldn’t want to otherwise. They are constantly kept under the influence, unable to make clear-headed and rational decisions, and many of them are then manipulated and brainwashed into thinking that their pimps either love them or would kill them if they ever left. Quite a few girls end up going back to their pimps after escape or rescue because they are still addicted to the drugs. I want to work with these people. I want to help them break their drug addictions and move on to a clean, healthy, positive life.

So we’ll see if that happens. It would at least keep me busy while I desperately miss my home, my family, my friends, and the comforts that being an American citizen have trained me to expect.

Like cheez-its. Central air. Friends close enough to touch.