Friday, September 28, 2007

Nakseongdae Park and One Night Photo

Review with a Gentle Soul

Gentle Soul Story 1
I teach a review class. Well, the word teach is a bit of a stretch. Usually, I sit, observe (making certain nobody cheats on their make-up tests), and occasionally help out.

Today, no one came for review class. I essentially had a break. So I decided to sit in the empty classroom and do my own review. I pulled out my Bible and read over some of my study notes.

Suddenly, the door was opened and my director Steve pushed a little girl into the room.

I recognized her immediately. She can be described as shy and gentle. I have helped her in the review class before, but I still don't know her name. She always comes to practice reading. She reads, and I listen and occasionally correct her. When not reading, she rarely speaks, and when she does talk, it's a whisper.

And she is a paradox, because she seems to possess great confidence yet radiates extreme shyness. She maintains steady eye contact and answers softly when asked questions. She reads strongly with little hesitation. She seems to have great patience and wisdom. I am curious about her story... her life.

We read for several minutes, but the bell soon startled her and signaled the end of the review class. I gently said farewell. She smiled and shyly whispered goodbye.

Perhaps, someday I will learn the name of this mysterious little student with the warm and gentle heart.

Gentle Soul Story 2
Today, in one class, we were discussing earthquakes, when Christina (a sweet little girl who sits in the back) suddenly said, "When I'm sick, I like to eat ice-cream!"

I couldn't help it... I laughed a little and said, "Wow, that's great!"

But it was just so funny. I chuckled to myself for several minutes after. I mean, it was just completely out of the blue. I'm still smiling just thinking about it.

What a great kid.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Things that new to me were.

I decided to reflect on my time here. What was new to me? What are some things that I really enjoy about Korea? What were some "firsts"? Here's the list so far...

  • the bus... I use the bus constantly. How did I survive without it in the States?
  • the taxi... I had never used a taxi before... now I use them regularly.
  • the subway... once again, I don't know how I survived without this.
  • kimchi... a staple food that I love.
  • chopsticks... I prefer to use these, more than a fork and knife. Eating salad and pasta is so much easier.
  • sharing food... the communal food. It's fun when everyone eats out of all the bowls on the table (I recently ate a "small" meal and there were about 10 various dishes that we all ate from). It reminds me of our round robin meals in the "bone", when everyone got something different and then we would switch plates every 30 seconds.
  • street food... so good, so cheap, so awesome. Chicken sticks and Isaac's toast forever!
  • slurping your soup... it's ok to slurp your soup, in fact, it's polite. And it just makes sense.
  • shoes off... take your shoes off when you eat and enter houses or certain restaurants, or when you're relaxing on the subway, or just about anywhere you are sitting or standing still.
  • 10th floor apartment... I have never before lived so high off the ground.
  • Seoul population: 14 million... I thought Portland was big (pop. 500,000).
  • assigned seat theaters... No waiting in long lines. Instead you book your movie seat ahead of time.
  • bowing... when you greet or thank someone, give them a bow.
  • bottled water... don't drink the tap water, they say it's bad. I've never bought so much bottled water in my life.
  • gifts when you visit... it's polite to bring a gift when you visit a person's home.
  • no shower curtain... there's no curtain and when you need to clean the bathroom you simply hose everything down.
  • kids go to school non-stop... many children get home from school around midnight.
  • kids run around alone... kids are always running around wild late at night, it amazes me.
  • Speaking with the verb at the end... "Ryan my name is."
  • Languages... I now have bits and pieces of four languages in my head (English 80%, TokPisin 10%, Korean 8%, Spanish 2%)
  • I bought a big umbrella... in Oregon it rains a lot, but you are safe in your car. In Korea, you walk everywhere.
  • I had a passenger sit on the back of my bicycle korean style.
  • I haggled over the price of technological gadgets.
  • I wore a pink tie.

I'm sure I will think of more.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Seoul Forest

If you want to save a gingerbread man from drowning, throw him this...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Extraordinary Miscellany

I am currently eating "cheks choko" without milk (the box happens to have a free beach ball), I'm drinking bottled water (because Korea tap water is bad for you), and I'm posting pictures. It's approximately 12:50am. Life is good.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Whimsicality Weather

A student of mine wrote "I love the whimsicality weather." Of course you can't put two nouns together like that... but I think it's so cool. I'm going to use it from now on... it has such a great sound and flow.

Say it to yourself... "Whimsicality weather."

In one of my reading classes, we were reading about a person who owned a large, loud, barking dog. We also read that the neighbors couldn't sleep. So I asked the kids, "Why couldn't the neighbors sleep?"

Little Eddie replied with confidence, "Many many coffee!"

A view from the teacher's room.

The bus driver had a suit on and sweet converse.

School kids in uniform.

They tell me this is a famous singer.

Dave took this great awkward picture for me.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Awhile back, I asked a class what they thought the scariest thing was. Here's a short list of their responses:
-mom (this one always surprises me but it is common, the moms here know how to scold)
-penalty paper

So I then drew the scariest thing in the world... a girl ghost/zombie with a penalty paper head, a mosquito nose, and a nametag. The kids called this creation... the MGZ (Mosquito Ghost Zombie). For some reason, they loved it and it is spreading across the academy like wildfire. Kids I don't even teach are talking about the MGZ.

So I decided a "special test" (aka educational game) was in order. I created my own version of Maffia. It's called... dun dun dunnnn... M... G... Z...

The MGZ are the "maffia". There is a Farmer who is the "doctor". There is a superhero who is the "Sheriff". And instead of "towns people" I made it a vegetable garden so everyone else is a vegetable.

First I pass out little slips of paper that have the different "jobs" on them. I made 3 MGZs. Then I tell everyone to "go to sleep". They cover their eyes. Then I tell the MGZs to wake up and silently select a "vegetable" to eat. Then I tell them to go to sleep. Then the Farmer can wake up and choose to "save" a vegetable. Then he goes to sleep. Finally the superhero is told to wake up and they get to silently ask if one person is an MGZ. Then everyone is told to wake up. But sadly, one vegetable has been eaten. Everyone then has a chance to make an accusation. The person everyone chooses is then kicked out of the garden. This continues until someone wins.

The vegetables win if they discover and kick out all of the MGZs. The MGZs win if they eat all of the vegetables, scare off the farmer, and defeat the super hero.
It was really fun.

Which brings me to my quote of the day...

Eric1(not to be confused with Eric2) - "Teacher, this is air-conditioner or heater?"

(the classroom air-conditioner just didn't seem to be working.)

Also, later that day, I was teaching a Review class. Usually there are only 2 people, but this day there were about ten. I must have been smiling too much because Jean came in and told me, "You must be very strict in this class. We don't want kids to want to come here. This is a punishment class for not doing homework. You must be a devil to them."

Anyway, the class ended soon after that, so I didn't get a chance to throw erasers or shout a lot. Oh well, there's always next time. :)

***Warning, scary photo below...

Here you go... a student drawn MGZ

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Daily Sights

Long ago, my brother requested I document my daily journey to work. Today I tried the idea. I took a picture approximately every 50 steps. For the bus ride, I opened the window and took a picture every minute or so. I got a picture of the "chicken stick stand", my "$5.00 haircut" place, and a little girl that I think I scared. She shyly waved at me but then hid behind the stroller. Mrs. Lee (who operates the Isaac's sandwich place) said she didn't have her make-up on, so we have a photo appointment tomorrow.

This one's for you, bro...