Let’s Play a Game!
Kids really do say the darndest things, which is why I work with them. The other day when I went through the daily classroom routine of what we were going to do , “Today we will go through Say More, Chant Chant, Phonics, and then a (dramatic pause)…… game.” I usually end my lessons with a game, so when I get to listing that part off, my students raise both their hands in my characteristic gesture (apparently I do this a lot) and scream GAME!
A student then yells, “What kind of game,” and I respond with, ” a fun game ^_-.” Then from the back of the class another student says, ” The ADHD Game!” I burst out laughing, thinking in my head…You don’t need a game for that…some of you play that already…and I’m pretty sure it’s not a game :P….hahahah smart kid…I think it was the same student that told me they were in prison and that I was taking the equivalent of mugshots when I had students lined up against the chalkboard with their names in front of them. Smart kid.
First Few Weeks of School ^^
I didn’t know what to expect when I first re-entered the swinging front doors of Yongso Elementary School after a two month break. (Note: The Korean school year starts in the Spring) I suppose all I really did know was that this semester would be different. I would have two new co-teachers, and a different schedule.
Greeted by hurried steps of hundreds of elementary school students, as I trudged up the familiar stairs to my office. I push the door open.
There was a word at the tip of my tongue to describe my office as my eyes surveyed scattered rolling chairs and neatly lined book holders. Empty. Something or rather someone was amiss. I later found that I would be the only Native English Teacher at my school. The other Native English Teacher, Sarah, whom I had the privilege of spending a semester finished her contract year and moved back to the states. The other English teachers whom I shared my office with, and my former co-teacher left, or transferred schools.
I got to meet my two new co-teachers, Mr. Jo, Mrs. Kim, and a co-teacher from last year, Mrs. Hwang. My schedule, I’m still trying to understand, has me teaching 1st through 6th grade. The confusing bits are the first and second grade classes that replace one period on Mondays and Tuesdays, which has me running up and down stairs going from one grade to the next. As much as I like being able to meet students from all the different grades, I miss being able to see the same classes twice a week. It makes lesson planning different as my co-teachers and I try to figure out which section I teach, and when to lesson plan. I’m hoping that I will be able to get the hang of it soon. Nevertheless, I’m happy to be back ^___^.
I’m excited to work with a new group of students for something called the Morning Show. A weekly school broadcast of elementary students using English in creative English projects (such as giving directions on how to make chocolate in English). This semester, the show will be every other week. I start interviewing students this week.
On another note, I lost my cellphone, went to the Filipino Market in Seoul
(At the Filipino Market eating lumpia, a piece of home, where I realized I knew more Korean than Tagalog (the language of the Philippines))
I also got to try 보신탕(dog soup) with friends, joined a Korean class, and twisted my ankle….
Adventurous ;)….I wish I could say that I twisted my ankle doing something epic, but honestly, I was just walking down a curb on the way to a chicken restaurant… >_< lame. My friend Korena piggy-backed me home. I now find myself scooting around on my rolling chair in my aparatment…..wheeeeeee.
학예회 (School Festival)
Today is the last day of my elementary school’s festival, where students perform mini talent shows in their classrooms for their parents, students, and other folks who happen to drop by (like me). I think one of the most entertaining acts I happened to stumble upon while bouncing from 5th grade classroom to 5th grade classroom was a rendition of gangnam style. The best part was the runaway baby that randomly joined in.
The classrooms are converted into mini theaters with seats near the doors and spongy mats for the stage, while the hallways are decorated with artwork. I wanted to showcase their artistic talent starting with first and second grade. enjoy ^________^!
Now for third and fourth….
Last but not least fifth and sixth…
Ok more like Happy Belated Chuseok….>_< Chuseok is the equivalent to Korea’s version of Thanksgiving, where streets are packed bumper to bumper with people traveling back to their hometowns, or to their six day weekend getaway. It’s Thanksgiving in the sense that families come together, but the turkey and fixings are replaced with traditional Korean rice cakes, cookies, and som-pyeong- a type of rice cake sometimes filled with sugar and other ingredients. They also visit the tombs of their dead ancestors. I spent the majority of my time visiting my old homestay family in Hwacheon for the holiday. I also had a lovely evening of feasting on Mexican food with other ETA’s, a former ETA, and other folks in Cheonan…nom nom nom.
As I gradually adjust to living on my own, I find myself cooking more, and experimenting with different Korean dishes…And seeing how this entry is about the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving, here is one of my attempts at Korean cooking so far:
(drumroll please…..I give you kimbap)
It’s relatively easy to make. Kimbap is kind of like a California roll. I have also attempted to make chicken curry, kimchi chiggae, and 파전 (Pajeon-Korean pancake with vegetables)…that was an epic fail…not sure what happened…but whatever I had was a gloopy mess…No worries though, I like to think of the my kitchen as a test kitchen :)…hehehe
Welcome to Cheonan
After a month long vacation in the states, where I spent one week recovering from jet lag, and encountered moments of reverse culture shock bowing after greeting someone or saying thank you. Transactions at the cash register were awkward to say the least. I would grab the receipt with two hands and in my cultural confusion I would bow my head at the cashier and utter a quick thank you. The cashier would pause, then stare at me confused.
I am now back in Korea at a new school in a new city. I live in an apartment in Cheonan that overlooks the city, and teach at Cheonan Yongso Elementary School.
The view from my front door of a skyscraper jungle.
The kitchen/dining area…excuse the mess :P….
The living room….in the process of unpacking :P….
Cheonan Yongso Elementary School :)…..
I spent the past few days setting my apartment up. I miss Hwacheon, my homestay family, my former students, and the teachers. There is a special place in my heart for them. The letters my former students wrote to me at the end of the year are still waiting to be read neatly stacked in envelopes. Since they’re in Korean, I’m waiting to improve my Korean reading and writing skills before I read them. My previous co-teacher joked that the letters are my Korean homework.
I started my first day of school on Friday. I met my new co-teacher for fourth and fifth grade, Song-Yeon, a fun and young-at-heart female towering a few inches above me in heels. I have yet to meet my other co-teacher for my second grade classes. The principal at my school appears supportive. He complemented me, and boastfully stated that I come from four generations of Fulbright teachers and that he expects that I will do good job. I only hope to continue the work that previous teachers have started at the school. I start my first real day of class tomorrow. I will teach five classes of fourth, fifth, and second graders twice a week. I’m excited to meet my new students.
Until then, I will attempt to translate the instructions on the Korean appliances in my apartment, and try to cook Korean food. I managed to make Kimbap (seaweed wrapped around rice, meat, and other vegetables) the other day, and I’m hoping to make curry, or bulkogi later this week. My goal is to not default to ramen as a staple :P…
A Year in Korea
Almost a year ago from today I boarded a 16 hour flight from Los Angeles to Incheon International Airport. In 17 days I will make a return flight for summer vacation in the US. Last year I could barely maneuver heavy metal chopsticks. Today I used metal chopsticks to pick up a single rice grain. To be honest, it’s an experience that I find difficult to put into to words how unique this year has been for me. I find myself looking at the future with a similar sense of uncertainty. However, instead of looking at the future with cocked brows raised with a hint of anxiousness, I find myself looking onward with a grin embracing myself for another adventure. I feel like there are too many stories to tell, and countless names and faces that I will carry with me wherever I go.
I will leave Hwacheon and move to an apartment in Cheonan where I will teach at Yongso Elementary School next semester. I will be back in CA for the summer, but will return to Korea shortly after. I will miss my students in Hwacheon. Just this morning one of my third graders walked up to me and gave me a hug exclaiming, “Leora teacher!” I almost balled in front of the little girl. That just about sums up how I feel about leaving my students. T.T….I know that the next ETA that comes to take my place at Hwacheon is very fortunate. As much as I want to stay here, I see this change as an opportunity to grow and thrive.
After spending two hours chaperoning my host siblings as a specialized, soccer game escort, the pinnacle of playing babysitter arrived when an ambush of children pummeled me with inflatable thunder sticks. It was the end of a two hour game, in a stadium a walk away from the apartment I live in. Stadium lights drew a crowd of spectators and bugs lots of them….Shouts, thrilling cheers, chants, stomping, clapping, filled the atmosphere…and we were there for anything but the game. Little did I know, my host brother’s incentive for attending this weeks game was to win something from the raffle. I guess that’s one way to attract fans :P. The audience on hung on their haunches cheering, professional soccer players kicked, and my host siblings and I were crowded around a puddle on the sidelines watching a dying half mosquito (too ugly to be called a dragonfly) squirm for it’s life. It’s the little things in life that are the most amusing/interesting. I hope to collect more moments like this. I have approximately 8 more lessons with my students, and about one more month here….I’m planning on making the most of it :).
note: 8 more lessons <I probably meant 8 more weeks> apologies for the confusion…
This past weekend I went to a peace forum and visited the DMZ. I got paired with a high school student (aka: my buddy) for the trip ^_^.
(my high school student and me…)
It was eerie looking over a peaceful valley with a thin line of arbitrarily constructed barbed wired fences, and small North Korean guard posts on the opposite side. I feel like this area has a lot of this remarkable natural beauty with a sense of uneasiness in the fact that the Korean War never officially ended. (Sorry, no pictures of the DMZ for obvious reasons)
(The group of us that attended the peace forum)
Afterwards, we traveled through spiraling roads, and unending countryside to a Hanok Village, made of traditional Korean houses. legit. Then we made dok…. ^_^, traditional Korean rice cakes by pounding rice on a wooden block for a good 15 or so minutes. whoot. We got to play with our food and eat it too. The night consisted of bonding time through games like ninja, basketball, and hand clapping games that sometimes resulted in minutes of embarrassment and endless entertainment. fun.
(Dok making….that rice doesn’t know what’s coming :O)
(fun and games ^^)
The next day we rung the peace bell, made of bullets from countries and wars all over the world.
The resounding gong of people’s hope for peace.
(above: at the peace dam)
We ended our time there with a discussion about peace with the high school students. Some shared stories, some reflected, some mused, some asked questions, and all hopefully left with a greater understanding of the meaning of peace and what it looks likes to pursue it.
I appreciated the experience, and look at the hills of Hwacheon with a lingering hope that one day peaceful reunification will come to fruition. I understand that it’s a complex issue, but as one person mentioned during the discussion, “Peace is a global responsibility, not just one country’s. So long as North and South Korea are divided world peace cannot exist.” Another point I recall is that “Peace is work.”
I don’t remember when the last time I posted here was, but I suppose I should update folks on important news and such. So it turns out that I plan to stay in Korea another year O.O, but this time I will be moving down south to an elementary school in Cheonan (about an hour from SeoI will miss my homestay family <3, but I do plan to visit them.ul). I will be back in California from July 22nd to August 17th. My plans as to what I will be doing when I get back are up in the air. I have a month and a half or so left until I get on a flight back to sunny So. Cal. ^_^ I can’t wait to catch up with folks.
I dedicate this post to my baby host sibling….more like host nephew (they call me auntie Leora in Korean in my home)….
He’s an a adorable, round ball of joy. I spent the evening chasing him as a half-dinosaur/half crazed chicken as he squealed in delight and fits of laughter. He also thinks my name is “Hello,” because every time he wants me to come he waves his little hand in a beckoning motion repeating “Hello, Hello, Hello.” I believe he thinks I’m an adult sized poke’mon that says their own name :P. We (as in my host family and I) have a few nicknames for him:
Happy Baby, a personal favorite name I give him for his adorable smile he wears often, and this joyful laugh he releases when I chase him across the living room.
Hungry Baby…he eats alot, which is why we also call him Heavy Baby.
and Yong-Oh Baby (Yong-Oh is my poor attempt at romanizing the Korean word for English)…we call him that, because at this point, he speaks more English than Korean, and he’s a little over two years old. Now that’s one smart baby. I hope that one day my host siblings here will visit me in the states :)…
Pictures with the host fam….(the pictures are a little old….but meet my host siblings ^^)
Left: So Myeong, Sam Myeong, and Da Call)