Courtney Matney to teach English in South Korea

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Courtney Matney surrounds herself with children on a mission trip to Ecuador.
Courtney Matney surrounds herself with children on a mission trip to Ecuador.

On Saturday, February 16, Courtney Matney will transverse the globe to teach English in Daegu, South Korea. Her flight, including lay-overs, will take approximately 16 hours. She will fly to Seattle and proceed across the Pacific Ocean.

South Korea is located on a peninsula between Japan and China and is rich in culture and history. It boasts a strong economy and technological advances while still being grounded in open markets and old-world traditions.

Over the next year, Courtney has agreed to teach conversational English in public schools as part of EPIK (English Program in Korea).
EPIK pays for her airfare to Korea and back to the United States. They also pay for her housing.

Courtney is unsure of what grade levels she will be teaching in South Korea, or if she will be teaching in multiple schools, but she has prepared herself by learning to read and write Korean.

“I can read and write it very basically, but I am not fluent in Korean,” said Courtney who ordered books and used online resources to teach herself. She explains the Korean language has basic pattern differences when compared to English and a basic question such as, “Can I pet your dog?” would translate to “Your dog pet?”

“It has been really fun to learn because it is kind of the exact opposite of English. It really makes you think differently about language in general,” said Courtney.

She hopes having a basic understanding of the language will help her more easily navigate Daegu, the capital of the Gyeongsangbuk-do Province and the fourth largest city in South Korea with almost 2.4 million people.

Courtney’s interest in South Korea began after she graduated from Colorado Christian University with a degree in psychology and returned to her family and childhood home in Kremmling.

She admits she was in a period of transition and didn’t know what direction her life would be going. “Everyone kept asking me what I was doing, and I didn’t have a good answer… I had just moved back in with my parents,” said Courtney, “I was in that place where I was struggling, a bit lost, and not knowing where to go next.”

At this time, she felt the Lord began to plant seeds to pique her interest in South Korea. “The Olympics were in Korea… and I started to look at the language. After that is when I realized how much I loved learning new languages and learning about new cultures… I did research on what type of jobs you could do with this and found you could teach English… I found this program and the pieces just begin to fall into place.”

She also received confirmation she was on the right track after being invited by Toby Hargadine to attend The Gathering church services, “This was a turning point. It was that little church meeting that got me back on track with the Lord and inspired me.”

Courtney began immersing herself into the process by traveling to the town of Eagle and volunteering to teach English to adult Spanish speakers. “I realized I just loved it. I had so much fun being an English teacher… I bought a class online to become certified and started taking steps to apply for the EPIK program.”

According to Courtney, the process to be accepted in the EPIK program was arduous with interviews and governmental red-tape.
Courtney’s plan for the year is to acclimate herself and become good at her job. “I think it will take at least a year,” and says her plans are flexible and she may want to stay longer than her year.

Even though she loves her American culture, she highlights differences she is excited to explore and implement in her own life. “They are focused on the group, and they really take care of each other. They put others before themselves – it is definitely more group orientated rather than individual. They really value respect and hierarchy. I am excited to see how it works. There is also a very high Christian population, so I am also excited to see how they relate to God.”

She recently created a Facebook page for her friends and family to follow her, and she plans to keep a weekly blog at www.invitationjournal.com for those who want to follow her adventure.

“I am excited for people to follow my blog and get to know the culture of Korea,” said Courtney who also asks for the community’s prayers.

“God has taken me so far out of my comfort zone over the last four years,” laughs Courtney who first drove on the Interstate when she was in college, “I feel like this is my little adventure with him. I am so excited. I am scared, but I am confident it is going to be everything it needs to be. Through all of this, I have felt that God has invited me into a bit of a trial, but he did it in such a nice way over a period of time that I came to really accept it and looked forward to it. I did it happily.”

She expanded, “I feel something I have come away with is that really going through hardships makes us desperate for God, in a way that living life too comfortably doesn’t… I experienced this after I graduated college. I was so comfortable at home that I kind of became sad and a bit lost. That is when He invited me into this new challenge… It has forced me to rely on him every step of the way and it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I feel more certain about what I am doing, and it makes me happy… I like the sense of having to trust Him.”

Courtney is the middle child of Jeff and Kathy Matney. She was often seen helping her dad fix windshields with her family’s business, Grand Auto Glass.

She also has grandparents in Kremmling – Therese McElroy and Teddy and Warren Matney. She is a 2014 West Grand graduate.

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