• Last modified 613 days ago (Aug. 17, 2017)


Baker’s daughter to teach English in South Korea

Staff writer

Your lips look different when you say “err” instead of “ellll,” and it’s not something most native English speakers notice.

Esther Schmidt, 25, knows exactly what movements to look for, which will be helpful as she begins teaching English to middle schoolers in Jingu, South Korea, as part of English Programs in Korea, a program that hosts guest English teachers.

“It was so much fun being in a pronunciation class where students could look in a mirror and see what the shape of their mouth was with the tongue and how it’s open,” Schmidt said while laughing, as she puckered her lips to make different sounds. “You just take your mouth and you say ‘errrr.’ You don’t think about it, but it’s important for them to be able to see it.”

Schmidt, who you may find in Norel Farms Bakery when you are looking for a sweet treat or a classic bierock, does not like to look at what she will miss both in Hillsboro and her family bakery when she leaves for South Korea on Friday.

“I know that I will miss some things, but I’d rather not think about that too much,” she said. “Maybe I can then appreciate what I have here more. And it’s not that I don’t already, but it’s one of those things you have to do when you grow up and do things on your own.”

She has never been apart from family for more than about two weeks.

“I’ll miss family, that’s the automatic, easy answer,” Schmidt said. “And also the comfort of living and having English everywhere. But that’s the reason people go to a totally new environment. It’s to challenge themselves.”

Schmidt said she is ready for a new adventure, but has some apprehensions.

“I may be avoiding squirmy things or things that are still moving,” she said.

Schmidt finished classes at Tabor College in December 2014, but most of her college education in English as a second language was completed at Georgia Southwestern State University, up until her family moved from Georgia to Kansas in September 2013.

While in Georgia, she had two Korean roommates and she found her passion for working with international students when she helped with International Christian Fellowship.

“It was a great way for American students to interact with international students,” she said.

She learned she had the patience to slow down and work with students learning English, but her education and passion were put on pause when she and her family moved to Kansas.

“I didn’t do anything that calendar year, but I was almost done,” she said. “I was student teaching, which you do right before you graduate, so my dad said I had to do something. I had all these classes and I really did need to do something with it.”

The right time

That need to continue her passion led Schmidt to Tabor, where she had one year of classes before she graduated and took a job at the college library.

“I wanted to go (abroad), but I wasn’t ready for it yet because I was still growing up, she said. “I don’t think I was ready to handle that much responsibility.”

But now the timing is right, both mentally and financially, because working at the library helped her pay off student loans and prepare her for the workforce.

“Thank God for Tabor library,” she said.

As she embarks on her journey to South Korea, she knows very little of the Korean language.

“I’ll have to learn real quick,” she said as she mentioned her excitement for trying Korean Karaoke once she gets there. “And I want to explore and walk around, maybe find a walking buddy.”

While traveling to a new country knowing little of the language can be scary, she and her family said they have faith in God and his plan.

“We have placed our children in God’s hand, and we trust God with our children, so we’re trusting him with Esther,” said Schmidt’s mom, Rachel Schmidt.

To keep in touch

While working at a local bakery with her mom, Schmidt has become a familiar face in Hillsboro, but with a 13-14 hour time difference, she knows real-time conversations will be a rarity.

“A lot of people come in the bakery and check up on our lives just as we check up on their lives,” Schmidt said.

Because of that, the Schmidt family is placing a map of South Korea on the door of the freezer where they keep their frozen bierocks that are for sale. The map will be updated based on where Schmidt is located at the time.

“I plan to write a letter to my mom every week or two that can then be placed on the freezer next to the map,” she said. “Even though digital is something people find convenient, it’s not the way it works in here.”

Last modified Aug. 17, 2017