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"My Life in Korea as an ESL/EFL Teacher" by Dave Van Minnen

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

It's a special honor to share the story of your life, Dave. Thanks for taking the time to put your sentiments into words so that together, we can inspire others the way you found yourself inspired:

"I was born and raised in a small town in Canada. I got an education to get out of the construction industry, but after school wound up back in it. In 2004, I had a terribly bad back and couldn’t work anymore. Of all people, my grandma suggested I try going to teach English in Korea (of all places!), lamenting that it was a waste of my education to be ruining my body and not living my dreams.  She said, “Now that I am 85 years old, what regrets do I have? The things I didn’t try because I was too scared. Go unfurl your wings and see what the world is made of.”

Those words never left me. I left Canada a month later with only a couple of bags. “Just one year.” I said to myself. Planning to convalesce my back and return to construction in Canada… Fifteen long and happy years later, I’m the husband of the most wonderful woman in the world, and the proud father of two beautiful kids. In Korea, I discovered the joy and pain of full-time teaching; I touched many lives, and they touched mine. I also had the opportunity to experience restaurant ownership for five years while I operated a Western-style restaurant in Korea. I ran a website for local native and foreign cultural exchange; had a recruiting company to encourage others to experience the marvels of world travel; and I ran a live music bar. I made lifelong friends. My experiences are not the same as most folks, but they are mine.

My Korean era was one of the most exciting and fulfilling chapters of my life. No regrets. If, someday, I get to be in my 80s, I will look back and still give the same advice, with the joy that grandma wished for me: “Go unfurl your wings and see what the world is made of.”

-Dave Van Minnen

For more information about teaching abroad, click here.


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