Speaking English for Americans is pretty simple as it is taught from the get-go. Speaking English for many throughout the world, although taught at an early age, lacks techniques that are important in understanding how to carry on a conversation. There are still many in foreign countries that have not yet mastered common phrases that are needed in knowing how to order goods and services in English, or just trying to carry on a conversation with someone.
Corey Chestnut and his wife Ashley Amos recently returned from traveling over 6,671 miles to help those who needed to know not only the logistics of the English language, but also the art of how to speak it.
The couple signed up to spend a year teaching middle school students English in South Korea. The experience left them both rewarded and open to other cultures.
This was Ashley’s third trip to Korea, which is sandwiched between China on one side and Japan on the other, with a sea in between. Ashley and her twin sister Jada spent a year in Korea in 2011 teaching English for a year before Ashley married. She had visited the country in 2007 as a student studying abroad.
“I really enjoyed the country and its people,” said Ashley. “My sister and I had a wonderful time teaching when there, and it was something I wanted to experience with my husband as well.” Ashley’s sister also went back with them the second trip. She is still there teaching.
Both Corey and Ashley grew up in Logan County. They graduated from Logan County High School and also graduated from Western Kentucky University. Ashley studied psychology and religious studies and Corey political science. The couple married in 2014. After about six months, they felt it was a good time to travel and help teach in another country before raising a family. Corey is busy with his family business and Ashley was very excited to show her spouse how fulfilling the experience can be.
“I really enjoyed it,” said Corey. “I was able to immerse myself in another culture, help others to learn, and see a part of the world that is completely different from where I was from.”
The couple said the climate was actually similar to the United States. The food, however, was quite different and it took some getting used to. They both made friends while there.
“We will miss the relationships we made while living in Korea,” said Ashley. “My sister is still there and I already miss her.”
One of the biggest differences of course is living right next to North Korea. Both Corey and Ashley were able to visit the the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula. It was established at the end of the Korean War to serve as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ is guarded by both North and South Korea and there are very strict rules governing the area.
“The Koreans we came in contact with didn’t really talk about North Korea a lot. They were busy with their own lives,” said Ashley.
While there, the couple was able to travel to many places and see many things. There were numerous festivals held where the culture could be experienced up close.
The couple lived in Nonsan and both taught at separate schools. Corey would ride his bicycle to school as larger cars were scarce.
Ashley said the students they taught were very trustworthy and were very competitive in their studies. In Korea education is extremely important, and in order to be able to get into one of the universities, you have to be dedicated to learning. Students wore uniforms and a strict code was followed. However, they did take more time to relax then what is taken in the United States.
“Students got an hour for lunch and they were allowed to walk around campus,” said Ashley. Corey said it was not uncommon for teachers to take naps in the day and recharge before beginning class again.
When the couple returned to the United States it was bitter sweet. Corey said although he enjoyed his adventures with his wife in Korea, he was very happy to be back home.
“I love it here in Logan County. We missed our families and it was good to get back to them,” said Corey.
Both Corey and Ashley have traveled quite a bit in their young age. She has been on five continents and he three. They both plan to continue traveling in the future, but both say Logan County will always be home.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.