By Amber Stark
Falcon Flames live, teach in South Korea
By Amber Stark
Growing up in Milford, Ohio, Emily (Lawry) Hatch’s kitchen wall was home to something not commonly found in kitchens – a world map.
“I grew up feeling like the world was full of friends to visit or be visited by,” the Bowling Green State University alumna said.
Now, 17 years after graduating from Milford High School and nearly 7,000 miles from Bowling Green, Hatch is teaching kindergarten through fifth-grade music for a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school in Daegu, South Korea.
“We moved to Daegu in August 2011,” Hatch ’05, ’10 said. “I love my job here. It’s so neat to be at one school for a long time, no matter where you are, and start to see that you are making a real difference in the school.”
For the past three years, Hatch has also served as the school’s continuous improvement chair, which means that she helps shape the vision and goals of the school. This year, she was selected as the DoDEA Pacific West Teacher of the Year, which includes all of the DoDEA teachers on the Korean peninsula, and was a top-three finalist for the DoDEA Teacher of the Year.
“I've been here seven years now, and it's neat to see how hard work pays off over time,” Hatch said. “I really like how as a music teacher who sees every kid in the whole school, I get to shape the school culture. I have a great relationship with the other specials teachers and we do a lot of collaborative events and themed studies. I think as the Teacher of the Year I have a unique platform to advocate for change in my district, and to be a mentor and encourager to others.”
Before moving to Daegu, Hatch and her husband, Jared, worked at ICARDA International School of Aleppo, in Syria. ICARDA is a United Nations research center for agricultural research in dry areas.
“Living in Syria was an amazing experience,” Hatch said. “We were there just before the Arab spring and the Syrian war started, and our eyes were really opened to just how kind and generous Syrians are.
“When the situation in Syria became too dangerous, we applied for jobs with DoDEA.”
The DoDEA doesn’t usually hire teaching couples, Hatch said, so her husband set aside his teaching career to be a full-time, stay-at-home dad to their two girls, 6-year-old Lucy and 4-year-old Penelope (Penny).
While teaching, Hatch often shows students BGSU streaming concerts during her class time.
“It’s really great to be teaching at a school 13 hours different from BGSU, so the concerts hit right during my school day,” she said. “My students wouldn't really get much experience with live music otherwise, so it's been neat to expose them to lots of different things by watching these streaming concerts. It's also a neat way to be able to talk about the music as it is happening while we also practice being respectful audience members. I was excited to find out about these streaming concerts and realize that I could really use them.”
“I’ve always been really interested in the world,” said Emily Hatch. “My parents raised me pretty deliberately to have a global perspective. Some of my parents’ friends encouraged me to look at the field of ethnomusicology, and that took me to the world music program at BGSU. I knew that having a double major would set me apart in the teaching field as well.”
Both also have master’s degrees in Cross-Culture and International Education.
“We knew that having a master’s degree would make us more marketable internationally,” Emily Hatch said. “My MACIE degree really shaped the way I see the world of education. I have been recently re-reading some of the ‘big hitters’ in that field that we read in grad school and I kind of wish I could go back and do that program again now. Living these ideas for a number of years makes it all make sense to me now.
“For instance, I try to have a democratic education focus in my classroom where I help my students look for inequalities of power and also to learn how to respect opposing ideas. This spring we did a unit on Appalachian music and part of that was looking at poverty in West Virginia and thinking about the far-reaching impacts of the coal industry, both good and bad. I think it was important for my students to understand the broader context of the music, but also good for even elementary students to begin to see that the world is an interconnected place.”
Jared Hatch ’06, ’11, a Bowling Green native, said he knew he wanted to explore the world outside of Bowling Green after he graduated, but he never predicted that he would end up living overseas and love it as much as he has. The couple worked for a year in Wooster, Ohio, before they found jobs at the Woodstock School in northern India, in the Himalayan mountains.
“That was such an adventure,” Emily Hatch said. “When we went there, we could only take a few suitcases packed with everything we would need for the next two years.
“We loved working at the school; it's a really well-established international boarding school and we worked with some really talented students. And living in the mountains was so beautiful.”
She added that twice a day everyone at the school stopped for tea time, which provided an opportunity for collaborating and developing ideas. While there, she also took sitar lessons.
Although Emily Hatch would like to attend BGSU Homecoming and march with the alumni band, the couple has no plans to return to the United States any time soon. Jared Hatch, who started home brewing before moving, is finding a place in home brewing in South Korea.
“That passion really took off once I arrived here,” he said. “It started with my winning a national competition here, and has expanded to helping share craft beer culture in many ways. Korea is one of the largest importers of craft beer in Asia, and the scene has been exploding over the past seven years. I have helped to introduce the Beer Judge Certification Program to Korea, organizing and leading continuing education events for professional and home brewers, and working as a contributing editor for the only magazine in South Korea focused on the craft beer industry.”
Emily Hatch added, “We love South Korea; it’s a great place to raise a family. Daegu is about the same population as Chicago, so it's a big city, but not quite on the scale of a city like Seoul. We've invested a lot into learning the language and culture and have a lot of Korean friends now. I think we will stay here as long as we can.”