I also had a few other opportunities to work here, but it occurred to me that I've been teaching English in Korea for just over 2 years now and will be doing it again in 5 or 6 months, and there's nothing other than inertia compelling me to do it in the interim as well. Time to do something. Something that fulfills the following Criterions:
1) Must take place in an exotic/exotified foreign land.
2) Must not cost too much money.
3a) Must be more fulfilling than last winter in Southeast Asia. (see future post with another DFW quotation for elaboration and elucidation, perhaps with a counter-post from my temporary host Chris, a "fellow traveler" over on the left there, unless you're reading this upside-down, in which case I guess he's on the right).
3b) Must do somebody, or the environment/everybody, some good.
4) Must somehow contribute to "my development," not that I know what that means.
5) Must be conducive to vegetarianism.
What magic contraption can do all of these things while still being enjoyable? One answer, it appears, is WWOOFing, which stands for WorldWide Opportunity on Organic Farms. It's an organization that facilities communication between fauxbauxs like myself (I suppose realbauxs are also eligible, or perhaps WWOOFing is itself one path to realbauxhood) and hosts, who generally provide accomodation and sustenance in exchange for 4-6 hours of labor each day, either on a farm or some other kind of project.
Over the past few years, thanks to authors like Michael Pollan and Peter Singer and recently betrothed friends like Justin and Anna Horn-Zeide or Zeide-Horn or Zehornide or Hozeidern or whatever surname they have finally settled on, I've become a lot more interested in the processes by which we produce and obtain food nowadays. This probably also has something to do with the widening of my culinary horizon forced upon me by my impromptu move to Korea way back in '06 [3 years in December! Indubitable yet incomprehensible!}. I always used to be a little freaked out that I knew how to use a TV but really had no idea about how iti worked. And even when I started learning to play around with computers in middle and high school, it eventually dawned on me that though I was capable of reinstalling operating systems and installing new hardware, I really knew very little about how stuff worked at more basic levels.
It wasn't until a little more recently, though, that I realized that I face a similar sort of bewilderment about most, if not all, the food I eat. I have no idea where it came from, who caught it or grew it, how they did so, how long they've been doing so, whos' subsidizing them, what they think about what they produce and how they produce it, what they think about their customers, what their goals are, etc. Not to mention conditions on meat farms/CAFOs. I'm sure most people would be equally perplexed if they were in the habit of trying to think thoroughly about their food.
So, at this point, heading to a farm somewhere - maybe even one with solar-powered water heaters and human waste composting toilets - to plant trees and dig ditches and pick fruit and build huts and eat vegan (not vegans) seems like a good way to spend the winter. I don't think I'm particularly compelled by concepts like living in harmony with mother nature or treating the world with respect, but I'm defiinitely interested in trying something a little simpler, a little more self-sufficient, and also, hopefully, delicious.