An Introduction

Welcome to Gossamer Word!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a website. In fact, my last one was a Harry Potter RPG and I made it when I was about 13. Hopefully, this blog will be a little more sophisticated, but just as fun. Though there is not much here yet, I have plenty of ideas cooking and it won’t look empty for long!

First, I just want to answer some basic questions about Gossamer Word and me.

Who am I?

I’m an English as Second Language (or ESL) teacher, language enthusiast and sometimes expat.

I first tutored students in English while I was studying abroad in Italy, just outside of Rome. Prior to that, I never thought I’d be a teacher. A volunteer project elective was offered through my university, and a group of us visited a nearby town called Marino to “teach” (read: “play with”) a few Italian elementary school students throughout the semester. After graduating college with a BA in English, and mucking around in hospitality for a bit, I earned my Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). I then applied to the English Program In Korea (EPIK) and was placed at a school on a beautiful island called Jeju. I ended up spending 3 amazing years there, traveling around southeast Asia and mainland South Korea whenever I could.

A Volleyball Tournament in Jeju, South Korea (2014). I’m the one with the ball.

Currently, I’m an independent contractor with an online English tutoring company called VIPKID. After returning to the US, I sought out a way to earn money from home, according to my own schedule, while still doing something I loved (more on this later)! It’s been great catching up with family and friends back home; however, I’m excited to be moving to Beijing soon to join VIPKID’s full-time staff.

Here’s how I teach now –live video chat lessons with VIPKID!

I’ve always been interested in languages, and have, at various points, dabbled in Russian, Italian and Korean. At present, I am studying Mandarin Chinese in preparation for the big move. Of course, I love my native language, English, and I’m always learning more about etymology, usage, regional dialects, idioms and the like (all of which I hope to post about in this blog).

Why am I starting this blog?

This blog is the seed of an idea I had which I hope will eventually grow into something far more expansive and useful. For now, I plan to use it to share what I’ve learned about teaching English, learning a new language and living abroad. “Start simple” was the good advice I was given. Gossamer Word is also a personal story, for anyone who is interested in my adventures and observations.

What’s in a name?

The name “Gossamer Word” was partly inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem, “A Noiseless Patient Spider.” The poem presents the image of a spider flinging a “gossamer thread” into the wind, hoping the wind will pick it up and carry the spider somewhere else. (For those who want to go down the rabbit hole of English etymology already, I found this fascinating 3 and a half minute podcast on the origins of the word “gossamer,” which also references Whitman’s poem.)

Whitman’s metaphor is poignant and may serve as a symbol of many different situations, but I found it particularly apt as a symbol for language learning and moving abroad. There is this act of flinging one’s soul out into the unknown, like the spider with his gossamer thread, that is so vulnerable, so brave, and yet so ordinary.

Gossamer itself is the fine, intricately connected webs that spiders make across the grass, usually in autumn. Although “gossamer” can have the connotation of “thin” or “delicate,” it is not that sense which I am trying to evoke with Gossamer Word. Rather, I hope that through this blog I can shed light on the connections of our words and cultures, the strange, heroic process of taking on a new language, and that mad instinct that provokes us to explore.

You might recognize this stuff. It’s gossamer. “Gorse Spider Mite” by Adrian Colston, used under CC BY 4.0.

A Noiseless Patient Spider

By Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

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