Sunday, January 17, 2010

Korea Presentation 2009

This is a presentation I made for my church in talking about my experiences in Korea.

I shared this one too of my Sunday school students practicing their dance moves.

Monday, December 7, 2009


So I just had one of my colleagues come in and ask me to sign something. I had no clue what she what it was and learned from the past not to sign anything without knowing what it was all about. So you hand me a paper full of a language that I hardly understand and you expect me to understand it and sign it? I like being oblivious to my surroundings (most of the time), but when it comes to giving up my signature, I would rather understand why and what it was for.

Well, in case you were wondering, I did give up my signature. (Yeah, I caved in.) I was told it was a sign-up sheet for a sexual harassment prevention session. Glad I question things beforehand, you know, in case I don't agree with them or something. But don't just expect me to understand a sheet purely of Korean! I've been here 3 months and am lucky to correctly pronounce a Korean word every now and again. Give me a break!

And then we have a Korean contest coming up on this Thursday, and it's mandatory and being nationally televised (at least it was last year). I don't have too much of a problem with making a fool of myself on national TV, if it is expected. But if you expect me to take it seriously, think again. I'm going to make you laugh. I know my students (and co-teachers) get a kick out of me when I attempt to speak Korean, and I have no problem with it. They laugh. I laugh. Entertainment is my middle name around here.

It's OK though, Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. I've got a well-deserved plane ticket out of here for the Winter break. With the camps I'm working and my paid-leave, it is all covered too. And I only have (hopefully) around 2 more weeks of papers for my MA classes to submit online. And I have a pretty sweet new coffee maker, that can brew an unbelievably good roast. So it's not too bad around here.

As a matter of fact, the snow has been coming down and the roads are as slick as ice, which means the ski hills will be opening soon! That is something to look forward too.

For a little comic relief, I added a picture of one of my colleagues having (way too much) fun on the bus on our last field trip. (I'd tell you where we all went, but treasure too many of your friendships. Let's just say it was a park by the ocean that you would not find anywhere in the U.S. And the principal laughed when he told me where we were going.)

Yes, in case you were wondering, that IS toilet paper wrapped around his head and he IS the soccer coach. Go Taeseo Elementary!

Now this was really funny! This is the Joseph (the other native English teacher in my school) having himself a ride on a metal camel. He said something beforehand VERY LOUDLY, but wasn't ashamed. Since he said they didn't understand him anyway.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can you _____? Yes, I can. No, I can't.

I made the mistake of taking too much on here in the past couple weeks. A couple weeks ago I signed up to take an online class at CMU, to get a head start on finishing my MA. I emailed my advisor about it, whereby he was generous and enrolled me in two classes. For a while I didn't think was a big deal. Well after staying in my apartment the past two weekends spending countless hours behind the computer writing (in my estimation at this point) senseless papers, I'm wondering why I didn't complain when he did so. He's a smart man though, because he has me enrolled now and it's probably too late to drop any of them.

Yesterday was fun day for my classes, and probably will be all this week. I am not required to teach any particular lessons to the students, so this week I'm teaching how to relieve stress. In second grade, we went right in to playing "Simon Says" and then the Moose Song --- didn't even think twice. Wrapped it up with a little:

"Can you ____?"
"Yes, I can."
"No, I can't."

Yeah, we had a good time. We were learning English (and Korean). No questions about it.

Last week the high schools had the big college entrance exam. I was told there were guards in front of the school to block out anyone who may interfere with it. The test started when the school opened and lasted until that evening, twelve hours later. I have not checked but last year, the day after the exam, there were even reported a few suicides nationwide. Some people take this stuff way too seriously. Kids, enjoy elementary while you still can.

These are some of my students at Hwangji Elementary School. If you are wondering what is covering their faces, it is what they call a 마스크 or "mask-uh" used to stop the spread of any disease or illnesses, or sometimes worn as a fashion statement. They are cute, but imagine if we tried to get the kids to wear these in the U.S.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Weekend

Wow, it seems like not too long ago I was itching for stuff to do on the weekends. This weekend just seems packed! Tonight we have pumpkin carving with the English teachers in town. Tomorrow I've just been invited to a Korean wedding of one of the teachers in my school. After that I have a Korean choir concert at my church followed by a Halloween party with the English teachers again.

Yesterday was the first day I've declined an invitation for a free school dinner. There have been many dinners I've eaten with my school and I appreciate going to them. However, yesterday it was one of those moments I couldn't handle anything else. I went back to my apartment and crashed --- zonked out for a couple hours.

This week at school has been a nonstop Halloween party for my classes. Today I just got done showing the kindergartners "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on Youtube and decorating pumpkins on paper. They loved it when I passed out the candy. In order to receive the candy, they had to say "Trick or Treat." Some of them just said "treat" which was legitimate enough I guess. I am out of Halloween candy though, which is a bummer.

Done with teaching today, so right now I am watching a couple games on NBA League Pass. It's free 'til Tuesday, so why not?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Today's Lesson: Shark Song

Here are some random pictures from 2nd graders in Taeseo Elementary. They were saying they were having a bad day. "Very hungry," "very so-so," and "angry" they responded when I asked them how they were doing. It seems like they enjoy English class though. We can have the worst lesson prepared or unprepared and at the bitter end of it, they still think I'm awesome. It's pretty funny.

We sang the shark song from camp today. With all of the motions they really got into it and even used some new phases like momma shark, daddy shark, swimming fast, got-my-leg, heart attack and CPR. For illustration purposes, I drew a cross on the board before the "Party with Jesus" verse. They loved it!

After lunch, I had one student flag me outside to play some soccer. They were all rehearsing some soccer drills without a coach, so of course I got involved and pretend I was one. Our mission was to score a goal. Every shot I would say "GOAL!" or "NO GOAL!" I think they got the idea.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Found a Church!

This last Sunday I finally found a church to go to here in town. I'm not sure exactly what the name of it is, but it is a huge church with Jesus holding two lambs painted above it. After checking online service times in town and having no luck, I decided to just take off on my new bike (which is awesome, by the way) and see which ones were going on Sunday morning. I couldn't find anything, but on my way home to get some breakfast I swung by one more and heard some music coming from it. I went inside to check it out.

Since the service was completely in Korean, I understood about six words from the sermon, but they sang familiar songs and the people were very friendly. A lady in front of let me use her English-Korean Bible and showed me the passage the minister was speaking from. It was I Timothy 4:1-5. I read the passage over a couple times since it's about the only thing I could understand going on around me. But, praise God! I found a church and I know when they have service! (This was extremely difficult for me to find, since no service times are posted online or outside of churches in town, well at least in English.)

After the message a lady and her husband invited me downstairs where they were having a free lunch. We had typical Korean food---rice, soup, kimchi, and some spicy side items. The man was a eye doctor in town and knew how to speak English very well. After lunch he brought me upstairs to meet the minister and then had 'coffee' (coffee mix and hot water). The minister said he wants to speak with me again next week after the service. We then went to the 1:30 worship (music) service. They had a praise band with youth playing the drums and singing accompanied by a piano and organ. Next week, the family said they want to introduce me to the English interpreter.

Also, this family told me that the guy who I replaced as an English teacher here in Taebaek used to attend this church. He also lived in the same apartment as me. Crazy weird stuff.

(Sorry, it's kind of long and has no sound. Yay for cell phone video!) The singer was from the United States and sang some verses of the songs in English, and then in Korean.

I left the service a little early to do some shopping. These pictures were taken at a meat market downtown near my apartment. I've seen some of this before, but mostly in horror films.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Home, sweet home... almost...

With my living situation here in Korea, I am grateful for what I have (top floor in picture on left). My apartment's location is ideal, being directly in the middle of the city and within walking distance to each of my schools. But with all its benefits, I am starting to get rather frustrated with it, almost to the point that I would rather not be in it at times. For the past couple weeks I've been working at getting rid of a nasty odor that has been coming from the bathroom drain. The drain seems to flow directly to the city sewer, so I get all that come with it. This includes a putrid smell that comes up, that is all so familiar around the streets of Korea.

I have direct Korean sewer access. This country may be years ahead of its time in technology, such as computers and internet; but when it comes to basics of living, such as sewage and plumbing, its system falls short. As a matter of fact, the Korean government has just given out an abundance of bottled water to its communities. Our school here has cases and cases of water surrounding its walls, where students and staff members are encouraged to take any amount needed home with them. I still have several bottles of water that probably won't be used up for a long time. Regardless, the government here knows that their septic system has failed in more ways than one, and their water remains undrinkable.

Many English teachers that have had problems with their apartment have needed to move. I was hesitant about addressing this problem at first because of the possibility of having to move to resolve it. My location in proximity to my school is almost perfect, and I enjoy not having to bus or taxi in every day; so for this reason, I am willing to "bite the bullet." Today I bought another bottle of bleach to pour down the drain to temporarily kill the smell. It may work for small septic systems but not for an entire city's. My head teacher said she has the same problem in her home and labeled it as a "construction problem."

On a positive note, my internet is extremely fast. In this I will rejoice and dwell upon. Giving glory for all His gifts and challenges along the way.

I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time that we went through in Asia. We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us, and he saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect him to do it again and again. (2 Cor 1:8-10 Living Bible)