Monday, October 31, 2011

안성 구메 마을하고 칠장사 사원

Well, I promised more cultural excitement, and here it is - the moment you've been waiting for.  I'm a little behind on my blog posts; I'm sorry... but I've been doing all sorts of cultural things, about which you want to hear... so you'll just have to put up with a little bit of a time delay. :)  (It's not like I'm in Korea or anything...)

Last Saturday, I got the opportunity to go on a most amazing cultural trip.  It was cold and wet and sent my SID into overdrive, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially the time I spent at 칠장사 사원 (Chiljangsa Temple).  At the temple, I spent a lot of time purposefully avoiding people and just soaking in my surroundings.  There's something in me that resonates with the Buddhist lifestyle, so going there was a treat for me.  I think, one day, I'd like to spend some time learning from a Buddhist monk (if I, being a woman, would be allowed).  This day was not that day, but... maybe one day...

Okay.  Without any further ado, here are the pictures from 안성 구메 마을 (Anesong Agricultural Village):
This trip really should be subtitled "How many ways can you use bamboo," but there's no option for that on my blog, so I'm just letting you know here.  So we started off the day by making bamboo massage sticks.  This photo is just the bamboo branches we used.  Keep on the lookout, because my massage stick will probably end up as a Christmas present for someone or something... They also make great percussion instruments and weapons.

Speaking of weapons, we got to try our hands at the Korean-style of archery.  The main difference seems to be their grip on the arrow.  I shot one and only one arrow, and here it is... barely making contact with the target board.  (It's the crooked one.)

It is now Fall in Korea, and I really haven't seen a more beautiful place for it.  You all can enjoy New England all you want, but I'm all about Korean leaves (in cultural locations) now.

Several people also went loach fishing.  Basically, these things look like the lovechild of a catfish and a leech.  You climb into the spider/scorpian-looking-thing infested mudhole, place your bamboo-enforced net in the water, stomp on the mud, pull your net back out, and see what you got.  Sadly, there were no waders big enough for my high-instep.  All together now: "Oh, that's too bad."  ;)

We each tried our hands at picking persimmons with these bamboo sticks.  Personally, I think it would be much more time-effective to use your bamboo to make a ladder, but I'm not going to argue with thousands of years of tradition.  Instead, I tapped into an even older tradition: the damsel in distress.  Yes, I managed to flag down two men who were kind of enough to hook me a persimmon (and another one when I accidentally knocked down the first) and let me pull it down as if I'd done it myself.  :)

The following are from 칠장사 사원 (Chiljangsa [Buddhist] Temple), I'm not going to caption these (if you want those, you can check out my Facebook), in the hopes that on their own they can reflect the peace and wonder (keep an eye out for the healing water) that was at the temple:

 Here's the ask the audience time:  What do you want next: a traditional Korean recipe, my personal reflections, or some more from my students?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sukkot 5772

Here are some pictures from Sukkot... we did not make a Sukkah :(, but we did celebrate involving our Sukkah-like porch, good friends, and good food.
We lit my Shabbat candles to celebrate Havdalah, along with several smaller prayer candles, which we allowed to hold our worries for us while we celebrated (and we allowed G-d to blow them out, too!).

After learning about Havdalah and Sukkot, we listened to Rabbi Ken's Gospel in the Stars message.  It's very interesting and informative.  We greatly enjoyed listening to it.

We even had an Ushpizin wander in.  G-d works in mysterious ways. :)

Our beautiful prayer candles... we lit one for the Ushpizin too.  He doesn't need to hold on to his worries.

We doused the candles with some grape juice, as per tradition.  I loved the idea of starting the next Shabbat with the reminder that it's Jesus' blood that brings us our Sabbath peace... it just didn't occur to me that the grape-juiced wicks would be hard to light.  But after some cleaning, they worked just fine.

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe Hebrew
shehecheyanu v'kiyimanu v'higi'anu laz'man hazeh. (Amein)
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season (Amen) 

Lots of love to you!

Friday, October 28, 2011

They gave me a fork.

I went to a workshop the other day that my city so nicely arranged for all of the Native English Teachers (NTs) on how to better flow with society and all-in-all be a better teacher.  I found myself resonating with my kids at the thought of being four hours in a lecture setting, but I tried my best to refrain from doing the exact things for which I scold my students.  (Side note: I thought that working in the food and retail industries gave me a better idea of how to respect people... good gracious!  That's nothing compared to teaching!)  But let me be honest, I feel so touched that these people went out of their ways to make our lives easier.  With the way America's economy is going, it's not like Korea will have any shortage of young people who are willing to come and teach in their schools.  Our bosses could very easily let us make our mistakes, fire us, replace us, and take themselves out to a rather extravagant dinner.  Instead, they brought in a speaker who was doing this for 30ish years before being stationed in Korea by the US Government to specifically work with NTs, and then our superintendent provided ALL of us with a gargantuan buffet dinner.  I'm beyond touched.

That being said, I have an amusing anecdote for you:
Upon arriving at the dinner, I put my things down, and grabbed my plate, spoon, and... ... FORK.  At first I was confused by its presence in my life, then I got a little excited.  A FORK!  I could see the possibilities of eating with speed and dignity.  So I got my food and returned to my table, where the first thing I did was drop the thing from not holding it correctly.  As if that wasn't bad enough, I seem to have forgotten that lesson that my mom so painstakingly drilled into me: how to eat noodles with a fork.  Alas!  I could not get them from my bowl to my mouth.  I'm choosing to blame it on the fact that the dish in question was a very Korean dish, complete with soup, so the noodles themselves preferred chopsticks, which appeared shortly thereafter, much to my delight.  And then, the sad but true fact unfurled: It is now easier for me to eat with chopsticks than with a fork.
And here I was, thinking that was a myth.  Sounds like I've got a little bit of KDS (and, admittedly, a hard time swallowing fan death) going on myself... (I've been reading up on what The Korean and The Expat have to say on that little problem.)  I have, however, found the perfect solution to this problem, but you'll have to click on the title of this post to find out what it is.  :P

Finally, as per the request of Ms. Malcolm, I'm leaving you with some more cultural media, which just so happens to be entirely related to this post, as it is a clip of a local student who came to our workshop to play the Tanso (also written as Danso, because the ㄷ letter in Korean actually falls between D and T).  Once again, I am thoroughly impressed by the willingness of these students to give up their valuable study time to come and preform for us.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Today was an excellent day.

Today was so good that I'm not even going to try to mask that fact with a confusing post title.  I'm just going to come right out and say it.  That way, you will have no need to sing THIS (also excellent) song to me.  (And yes, the only reason I didn't embed the video into this post rather than linking it is because I don't want it to be the profile picture for this post.  Yes, I AM that superficial.  So click on it and feel connected to me, because I'm listening to that song while I'm typing.)

Okay, I have a lot of things to say about today, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm just going to post the step-by-step of my day in photos:

The day started with 6th graders... having FUN??!!!...

...Probably because this was the basis of the lesson...

And we very happily played a game...

That I originally prepared for the fourth graders.
(Look familiar???)
But Shhhhh!  Don't tell them, please!  (Plus, this photo is too funny not to share with you.)  :)  I'm so sneaky.

Then, a 3rd grader (I think...) gave me this.  It's pretty, it's cute, and it's my first gift from a student.  I will treasure it (forever, probably, knowing me).
Then, a third grade homeroom teacher brought this lovely piece by (Ms. Gu - my head teacher - and I at 3/4 of it by ourselves).  Someone, somewhere was listening when I did my introductory PowerPoint and explained that my favorite foods are sushi and pie.  YUM!

Finally, here are some pictures of projects by my 6th graders.  They're not from today, but they're related to THIS post.  These did, however, contribute to my good day, because today I showed them to my head teacher, who loved them.  :)  I love them too, and I'm willing to bet that you will join the ranks.  So, without any further adieu, here are our bucket lists (from class 6-3):


Love you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What goes around comes around.

Aside from this being one of the most brilliant music videos (Yes, it is linked to the title of this post.) I have ever seen (topped maybe only by Thriller), it is also a very true statement.

One of the most infamous stories in my family is that of my first words to my maternal grandparents.  My pop-pop had a habit of calling all little girls "Pumpkin."  Honestly, now I think it's quite endearing, and I partially regret my steps against it, but when I was very little, I HATED being called anything other than Anne (R-dot).  (My mom would like to interject that Pop-pop was calling my Annie, which I do hate and would prefer people to refrain from using in reference to me.  That is all.  Moving on...) Therefore, the first time I worked up the nerve to talk in their presence, I walked in and said, "MY NAME IS ANNE!," to which they replied, "...okay."  They called me Anne ever since then.

Well, I've posted several times about the kid who always yells, "TOE-MAY-TOE!" whenever he sees me.  I've taken to calling him Tomato, as a type of a term of endearment.  It occurred to me that he seemed to be slightly disgruntled at its use, and I tried to tone it down, but it slipped out today, since that is what I associate him with.  Being outside of school grounds at the time, he turned to me and rather forcefully said, "Teacher, my English name is Brian.  No more Tomato."  (I can't help smiling, even as I write this.)  He then turned to his friend and said, "His English name is Vic.  No more Tomato."  By this point, I was laughing out loud, but trying to control myself.

"Okay," I said. "No more Tomato.  See you later, Brian, Vic."

I can't even feel bad about it, and I really don't feel bad about giving my grandparents a hard time anymore (for several years, I had worried that I had offended them in some way), because now I am certain that they were more amused than anything else.

Do you have any fun stories like that?  I'd love to hear them, as I love to laugh.

(I'm including Thriller in the viewable section of this post, as Michael Jackson is still ranked higher than JT in my book, although not by much, but until JT's genius outranks MJ's, this is the way it will be.)

Oh, and by the way... Brian turned to me as I was leaving and said, "I do really like tomatoes, though."  "I do too, Brian."  :)

PS.  Don't forget to be praying for my Compassion Kid.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm using this for my class, and I'm not ashamed.

A Walk to Remember - To-Do List
Get More: A Walk to Remember - To-Do List

But I hope that won't keep you from watching it too.

We're making bucket lists tomorrow.

Do you have one?  If you don't, I would really suggest making one.  I find it helps me remember what things I really want to do in life and pursue them.  Plus, I'm type A, so I really like crossing things off my list.  Now, I measure the cost of things against different things I could be saving for on my bucket list.  Do it, try it, and you're more than welcome to claim you got the idea from Morgan Freeman rather than Mandy Moore.  ;)

PS... please consider praying for my Compassion kid's sister.  For more, click HERE.

Friday, October 14, 2011

This isn't a prayer request. It's a prayer begging.

"Wherever two or more of you are gathered, so shall I be also."

Here's the deal guys... the sister of my Compassion Kid Enock (See the photo) is is really sick.  According to a letter I received, written by a friend, helping Enock's mother:

"She says her daughter went for a greener pasture, but when she was returning, the daughter returned with the mental problem.  The child had been sent to hospitals and prayer camps, but it still doesn't go.  Their mother therefore is pleading on your behalf to pray for her daughter.  The situation is now: The sick child is at home safely.  According to her mother, she doesn't sleep at home at night."

There is a lot of room for interpretation, I know... but this is my latest information.

I myself am going to attempt to be praying on this as much as Enock's mom is asking.  What I am asking of you is a prayer vigil.  I would like to get 24 hours of solid prayer going for this girl.  I hear from Enock 1 to 2 times a month, so this information is very recent (as of 9/6, actually).

If you are willing to pray, please respond with the time that you are taking... I'm suggesting half hour blocks, but hit me with more or less as you see able.  There is a really bold healing prayer linked to the title of this post, and I would suggest praying that at some point. (Also, I realize that time zones are drastically different, but I'm going to do this vigil on G-d time, so just sign up in your own time zone.) I'd like to be able to send a copy of this list to Enock's mom, so please respond ASAP.


Sunday, October 23, 2011:

12:00am - Alyse Gibson
12:30am - Christa Malcolm
1:00am - Abby Petrunak
1:30am - Seong Hee Yoon
2:00am - William Hicks
2:30am - Doug Harrelson
3:00am - Jaimi Thomsen
3:30am - Jaimi Thomsen
4:00am - Alexander Raven
4:30am - Barbara Behn, Darryl Royster
5:00am - Mandy Sayers
5:30am - Mandy Sayers
6:00am - Sandy Royster
6:30am - Emily Schanck
7:00am - Mica Lane Massie
7:30am - Kaitlin Ferguson
8:00am - Christa Malcolm
8:30am - Michael Karounos
9:00am - Abby Rowe
9:30am - Matthew Huddleston
10:00am - Stephanie SanHamel
10:30am - Katie Parrish
11:00am - Janine Sircus
11:30am - Sarah Cooke
12:00pm - Donna Reagan, Meret Levitt
12:30pm - Alexandria Alspach
1:00pm - Renee' Chilson
1:30pm - Tyler Cooke
2:00pm - Kayla McMahon Smith
2:30pm - Samantha McDonald
3:00pm - Becky Childress
3:30pm - Noël Marsh
4:00pm - Kelly Tillson
4:30pm - Libby Switzer
5:00pm - Sarah Rudy
5:30pm - Alexandria Alspach
6:00pm - Alexandria Alspach
6:30pm - Alexandria Alspach
7:00pm - Alexandria Alspach
7:30pm - Sonia and David York
8:00pm - Sonia and David York
8:30pm - Anne Nicole Royster
9:00pm - Will Houck
9:30pm - Sandi Phillips, Shadaye Hunnicutt Wiessmer
10:00pm - Kathleen Farrell
10:30pm - Veronica Pech-lopez
11:00pm - Amanda Olmstead
11:30pm - Mark Hardin

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Does your mom lettuce?

Yes, one of my students asked me that question (although, to her credit, she did quickly correct herself to say, "Does your mom like tennis?"  Easy mistake).  :)  Today, I want to write about how much I absolutely adore my students.  Yes, there are some that I would like to strangle, but all in all they make me incredibly happy.

Let's start with this moment... and yes, it's with 6th grade, believe it or not:
Even though some are my classes seem to be something straight out of Dante (yes, I dd just make a literature/philosophy reference.  Get over it.), I love them on days when they let me do lessons like the one above.  Not only did we get to cover compound sentences, we did infinitive verbs, city-required vocabulary, and a music appreciation lesson.  (YES, I DO love it when I saw their faces light up when I exposed them to Brian May a couple of lessons before this one, and YES, their intent air-guitaring DID make my day.)

The English Golden Bell Competition is next week, and I'm going to miss being allowed/encouraged to nit-pick those students' English.  I kid you not, this one student, Brian, writes better than some of the kids I went to high school with.  I was reading his position essay on why kids shouldn't be forced to do chores, and he actually brought up some points that had me considering his position, until I talked to him about it... As it turns out, he's actually of the opposite opinion, but no one else volunteered to write for that side, so the teacher assigned it to him.  Oh yeah... by the way, he's in 4th grade.  So impressive.

Additionally, it is impressive the way the kids are so eager to help the special needs students in my classes.  I love watching them all run up to explain rules and include them in activities.  It's not that the students don't recognize the difference, it's that they DO, but they don't see it as a viable reason to keep these kids from being a member of the Whole.  (Yes, there are times that I want to dig up whoever encouraged Korea into groupthink and slap him in the face, but this is not one of those times.)  I tried to take a picture to show you, but my fingers didn't move fast enough.  It'll happen again... I'll capture it one of these days.  For now, I'll just leave you with a picture of a kid and his special ed teacher:
This was such a beautiful moment.  She's asking him question about the lesson, and he's answering... just into the telephone. :)
And I know this is getting lengthy, but I think you can get over it, because I'm talking about my favorite parts of Korea, and I was under the impression that you wanted to hear how much I love it here.  These kids are the reason I love it here.  In fact, I think I would probably hate it, if not for them, so read on.

Next, I would like to tell you about the kid who is quickly becoming my best friend.  :)  His English name is Edward, and he's either in 5th or 6th grade (I'm unsure, because my Saturday class is mixed levels).  He and his bestie, Edwind, are in charge of cleaning my classroom this... week? (I hope it's longer; I love having them there.)  They race to the room to get there early.  While we're waiting for class to finish up (I do exit questions with each student before they may leave, so there's a decent amount of time that I'm just waiting for them to finish their classwork), I teach them different clapping games that I learned in elementary school (and secretly still love, just everyone my age thinks they're too old and too cool to still play... boo...).  They're big fans of "Double Double" (and yes, they are pretty much as excited about it as the girls are in the video), and I taught them "Down by the Banks" today... we'll see which one wins out tomorrow. :)  I think if they're still cleaning my room next week, I'll teach them this one too.

Edward's superhero

Edwind's superhero

Yes, these are my sweet friends.  I like them a lot.

Finally, I heard this drifting in through my window the other day... I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did/do.  :)

Love you!

PS... click the title of this post.  It's linked to my new favorite photograph... probably because I look at it and can't help but recognize many of my kids.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yom Kippur 5772

Click the title of this post if you don't know what Yom Kippur is.  If you do, then read on.

This year, I got to celebrate Yom Kippur with some of my fellow Waygooks in Korea (I got to do this for Rosh Hashana too... I just didn't take any pictures of that).  It was a small crowd, but it was very nice... very relaxing.  As I told my friend Adam, I think this was the best thing that I've done since coming to South Korea.  I've really needed it.  We just sat there, stared at candles, talked, laughed, and enjoyed not being required to do anything else.

As believers in Christ as Messiah, we decided to celebrate the Atonement that He has already given us, rather than the somber day of fasting that most Jews observe.  I'm glad we made that choice.  We have enough stress on us as it is.

Okay.  That's enough words... let's look at some pictures:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seoul International Fireworks Festival

This is one of those cool things that I promised you I was going to do... A fireworks competition between South Korea, Japan, and Portugal.  It was so awesome!  But it was also one of those things that really reminded me that I'm in Asia... you never realize how many people are in the world until you're being squashed by them all.  Here are some photos:
Waiting to get on the subway
Being on the subway was physically painful (but worth it).
Leaving the subway station
Looking back down the escalator
And, of course, the fireworks.  (I tried to put some up here that weren't on my Facebook.)
Finally, I've decided that fireworks are just so much better when viewed while surrounded by quite possibly 100,000 Koreans.  So, I've included a video for you to watch and share in the experience:

Oh, and I got to eat more Subway.  Yum.

Love you!