Tuesday, December 10, 2013

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Can you guess today's music? One of my favorite versions of O Come O Come Emmanuel is the fantastic Rosie Thomas version, but unfortunately I couldn't find a good version of that on Youtube, so I will go with my current favorite instrumental version of it: O Come O Come Emmanuel by The Piano Guys.

This past weekend was a super relaxing one for me. It's sometimes hard to have a relaxing weekend because you feel like you want to get out of little old Deokso, but this time we had some project to do! First was deep cleaning the apartment...I know boring, but it's actually really satisfying to everything looking all nice and shiny. Because our apartment is not too big, you can get a lot done in a short amount of time, so you feel really productive without spending hours on it. Next was Skyping with Josiah, which was even more awesome. In case any of you want some good advice on nearly anything or want to look at cool lego sets with someone, he's kind of the best person in the world for that. We both pretty much decided that Lego's Creator line of lego sets is the bee knees. 

Sunday I stayed home from church and had some F.A.B.I.C. From Afar church on the couch. So enriching! I'm realizing that I need to be more intentional about getting spiritual food in my own language. Translation at church is a huge blessing, but sometimes it feels a little like trying to suck water out of a washcloth instead of drinking from a glass. That's a weird word picture, but you get what I mean. Then in the afternoon, Kate and I made an awesome paper bunting decoration for our wall while watching Baby Mama. Can you get better than crafts and Tina Fey? 

In the evening I had some awesome Korean-Chinese food with Yoonseo and then we went with Michael and Heather to see About Time, which turned out to be the best movie I have seen in a while. Yes, I even cried, can you believe it? 

So a weekend at home actually turned out to be just as great as an adventure weekend.

What's happening on the Connexus side of things? I found out yesterday that my favorite student Grace is moving to Sarah's class next month. I'm glad she isn't leaving Connexus entirely, but I am sad that she won't be in my Green class anymore. I know it's probably against all teacher protocol to have favorites, but I do in pretty much all of my classes. Sometimes it's hard to remember that we won't have these students forever, and probably a few will even leave Connexus while we're still here, like precious old Jack. (Still miss that kid).

We've started to talk about things like enhancing/changing the curriculum too. We're all going to try implementing some new ideas. For instance, for my yellow class, I am going to try a knitting project for Friday individual activity days probably starting in January, and might try making a puppet theater with my Green and Blue classes.
So, I'm feeling excited about trying out some cool new things!

Christmas Listening List (Old and a little more obscure edition):

* In the Bleak Midwinter

* The Wexford Carol

* The Huron Carol

* Good King Wenceslas

* Boars Head Carol

* Adam Lay Yboundem

* Coventry Carol

* Hear We Come A' Wassailing

* The Holly and the Ivy

Quotes from the Community:

Yoonseo: *After looking at a picture of Elmer Fudd* That is my dream.

"Oh, your belly button's cute, Sarah!"--Anna

Quotes from the Classroom:

Susan: Eileen, would you rather marry with Korean boy or American boy?
Eileen: American boy because...cute babies!
Susan: Korea babies are not cute? You are Korean baby! You are cute!

Sungyeon: "Which do you like better, Rudolph or snowflakes?"
Joy: "I like Rudolph better."
Abby: "Why?"
Joy: "He is cute."
Abby: *mentally* "she said I'm cuuuuuuuute!"  Gotta love the stop-motion Rudolph film.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


There are few things better than the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas, so please enjoy O Tannenbaum by the Vince Guaraldi Trio while you read this post!

That song is particularly fitting, since this past Sunday we put up our little Christmas tree! It's very short, and fake, and has mostly the gaudy and glittery dollar-store style ornaments that seem to be the only kind available in Korea, but still it makes me so very happy. Sitting in the living room with the lights down and the Christmas tree lights on is just fantastic. Lots of warm fuzzies inside.

I've been feeling a little homesick these days, a usual thing around holidays, but have been bringing some things from home into our celebrations here to ease the feeling of being far away. Our apartment is doing a little advent reading together every night using John Fickett's O Antiphons Advent booklet. It is so excellent and the exact thing that I was looking for to help us usher in Jesus this Christmas. Thanks Uncle John for your great writing!

In the teaching department, things have been going well. There are so many happy things, but I am not always careful to make special note of them, so they sometimes run together...I do tend to take note of the not so great things, which unfortunately makes my memories of certain classes not so great. I would appreciate prayer for dealing with my 5:30 class. They talk when I am talking, and one student in particular has such a negative, flippant and disinterested manner that I spend half the class trying to get her to actually try the activities we are doing and stop playing with her dang eraser/pencil/mini toilet plunger/pencil sharpener whatever the heck else she brings to distract herself. 

One student that always makes me happy though is my student, Grace, or Dohyeon. She is 10 years old in my Green class, and is absolutely precious and loves class. She is so eager to participate even in more tedious lessons where we are learning a bunch of vocab and her writing has been improving visibly from month to month. She is maybe a little bit lower than the other two boys in the class with spelling and fluency, but to me she is a much better student than they are because of her attitude and her geniality. The boys are very competitive with each other and are not always kind to her, but she never lets that stop her from learning. What a gal!

Community News:

* Heather and the Men's Apartment took some pretty hilarious Christmas roommate pictures. Please anticipate them.

* Turns out we don't have to bake so many cookies for the Christmas party, so less stress in the baking department!

* Lots of rearranging with classes and teachers coming in January. Because many of our students are entering middle school, the time at which they can come to Connexus will change because they will get out of school later. Thus, we need a big class shuffle to happen to make sure everyone can still attend. This will mean handing some favorite students over to other teachers, which is always a tough thing, and the addition of new students to already established classes, which can be tricky too. Pray for all of us as we go through some big transitions. 

Recently Watched:

* Downton...as always. 

* Wreck It Ralph. How did I miss that one when it came out? so good!

* Human Planet: Mountains. Best part was the Mongolian hunters with their trained eagles.

* Mud. This movie's lesson is....cottonmouths are dangerous? Good movie, but one I feel like I need to think over a bit to sort out the themes and motifs and whatnot.

Quotes from the Community:

"Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them because they don't know what's going on...what the heck.'"--Yoonseo's rendition of the Crucifixion.

"Are you good at dinosaur vocab?"--Anna

Yoonseo: "Why don't you remember this place?"
Me: "I'm not good at recognizing places in the dark."
Yoonseo: "Then please don't wear sunglasses."

Quotes from the Classroom:

"Are you friends with Yester Anna?"--Minseo asks about Anna Ruth

Me "Which do you like better, pencils or erasers?"
Yoobin: "Same."
Me: "Can you make a sentence?"
Yoobin: "Same same same same."
Me: ..............*mental facepalm* 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan

Lately I have been really loving the old, less common Christmas tunes, like Good King Wenceslas and Lo 'Ere a Rose is Blooming, those types. So here is a really nice version of one of my current favorites, In the Bleak Midwinter by The Honey Trees.

The lyrics to that song are pretty neat:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

What can I give him, poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

(Gabby, doesn't the last stanza make you think of Minch during Chloe's goodbye party when we were in Malawi? I still have that video of her somewhere, hehe!)

Though the version I posted doesn't include it, I love the second verse the best: "Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain...In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ."

It's kind of the message of Christmas in a nutshell. The Greatest of All can't be contained, and yet still entered the smallness of our tiny timelines just for us. Eternity enters time. How cool is that?

I think I wrote last time about being upset because I couldn't translate a poem. Well, I tried again and was able to come up with something! I know it's probably not even close to the original, and I did some definite paraphrasing to preserve some cool poetic spacing. The poem was actually handwritten on a piece of paper and given to Kate at the art market outside of our church in Hongdae. The girl who gave it to her said she was giving away Korean poems to help spread appreciation for them. From what Kate could understand, her vision was that by translating poems, Korean learners would have to think deeply about them and would then see their virtue. Kind of a cool idea, actually! So here is my humble little attempt at translating: 

Suppose that me loving you                                                    
Means putting myself outside                                                  
Of my own being                                                                  
The self-transpiration of the pomegranate                               
The weariness of things that breathe—                                   

Those who have discovered the redness of the wild cherry    
let us become                                                                           
wild cherries scattered over the countryside                         
complex and complicated.                                                     

--Ham Sungho      

가령, 내가 너를 사랑한다는 것은   
 나를 나의 바깥에 두고있다는                                                              
 석류가 저절로 벌어지는 것은
 숨을 가진 것을의 피곤함--

산수유 열매가 붉은 것을 알게
바깥이 온통 산수유 천지다
복잡하고 복잡해라

 --함 성호
Community News:

* The new projector arrived! We watched Human Planet: Jungles and it was so clear and bright. Luxury viewing.

* The heat in the teacher's room might be fixed today! Soon we will be popsicles no longer.

* Papearl sells a pretty nice variety of cheap but good yarn. The Christmas Knitting Machine now doesn't have to travel to Dongdaemun for supplies. Yessss


Quotes from the Community:

* "Put that in the video: we don't bash kids here." --Michael's public relations advice.

* "The shoemaikarh" --Nayeon Impersonators all over the office. (The Connexus video is going to be pure gold, everyone).

* "Makgeoli isn't alcohol, it's culture."--Yongjin

Quotes from the Classroom:

Joy: "Do you have any Love or love?"
Love: "I have one me and a lot of love."

 "I love Anna <3 <3 but you love me?"--Anna's student Youngeun makes a confession.

"Snow snow please comeing faster! I want to meet you! I love you snow!"--Cindy's precious journal, incorrect spelling and all.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We welcome December with tireless hope

It's a balmy 50 degrees fahrenheit and I'm still so cold. Serious winter wimp right here. Anyway, I've held out long enough, so our first Christmas song of the season is Sleeping At Last again because right now I am just all about poetic lyrics. Please listen to the gorgeous song: Snow by Sleeping At Last.

Fall is known for being a sensitive time for people over here, but I think for me personally, the end of Fall and beginning of Winter is when I start thinking more deeply and feel more introverted (if that is possible). Cue time for poetry reading and listening to Sleeping At Last like an addict. 

Along with thinking more comes worrying more...and usually about things that don't need worrying about. Case in point: my most recent cry was because I couldn't translate a poem from Korean to English. At the time it felt like evidence that I wasn't getting any better at Korean and that literature, one of the things most dear to me, was forever inaccessible to me in another language. A.K.A. Major Drama Queen Moment...but actually one that kind of still worries me just the tiniest bit.

Winter in many ways is a time for patience, a time for "waiting-and-seeing." The truth is that most things in life take time, more time than we imagined: learning languages, relationships, buying more yarn to finish that scarf (still haven't gone yet...). The question isn't whether we'll have to wait or not, because we will. The question is what will we do with the waiting? Will it only be that squiggly line between times and dates (November 23~June 2014) or will it be something of substance?

I also don't think "being of substance" is about doing doing doing either. Maybe getting too deep here, but a metaphor I've been thinking about lately is that of the flower bulb. It doesn't do a whole lot actively, but it's the result of a plant slowing storing up strength for itself. It's a kind of rest, but an active rest that prepares the plant to flower when Spring comes again. So that's what I want to use my Winter for. For waiting-and-seeing and storing up strength. 

Community News:

* Prayer for Sunny appreciated! Her baby was looking like he was going to make a rather early arrival, so now she has to be on bed rest...tough to do with two other little people in the house.

* Projector bit the dust, but there is a new one on its way! Of course, there is a donation box, if you would like contribute to our movie watching.

* The Great Season of Cookies is on our doorstep. In order to give two cookies to every attendee of our Connexus Christmas party, we calculated that we will need to make around 800 cookies. That's right. 800. It's going to a factory up in this joint for the next couple weeks. 

Recently Watched

* Home Alone 2. Those robber should have been dead. It's like Looney Tunes. Also, I miss having a TalkBoy.

* Human Planet: Artic. I guess I should be thankful it's not that cold here. Next up a little more steamy with the Jungles episode!

Quotes from the community

"Michael, you are a really good friend. Your being, your laughter, your smell." --Yoonseo

"Sybil is a serious babe." --Heather speaks the truth

Quotes from the Classroom

"How many kilos does your mom weigh?" ---Sarah's students grill each other on the nitty gritty stuff.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nearly half-past November

There are few bands that sound more November-y than Sleeping At Last, so this time the blog music is a current favorite by them: Needle and Thread. 

It is beginning to get seriously chilly here people. The leaves are making one last effort to hang on to the trees this week, but I think they will give up after we hit the third week of November. I'll miss them, but I am getting so excited for Christmas that I'm sure that will distract me.

It's hard to feel too sad or wistful these days for me, even if my favorite season is ending. Not only has Aurie finally made an entrance, but as many of you already know, I snagged a pretty great boyfriend, Yoonseo Park. It would take far too long to describe his good points, so I'll just reassure you all that he is kind, thoughtful, and hilarious; the very best of eggs. I appreciate your prayers for us!

This week is a fun one at Connexus because of prep for the filming of our Christmas video. Each class chose something to perform or introduce on film and we will compile the clips of all of them in one big video to show at our Christmas party. My Phonics babies will be singing part of their alphabet song, Blue 5 will perform a scene from The Magic Cooking Pot, Yellow 7 will introduce five members of the Connexus staff, Blue 6 will talk about what they like at Connexus, and Green 2 will perform a puppet show rendition of a scene from The Fisherman And His Wife. I'm pretty pumped to have something to show everyone that shows a little bit of the Connexus classrooms. I also can't wait to see the bloopers. Nothing like a good blooper reel. 

Outside of teaching, I've been knitting up a storm...Christmas is coming and presents must be made! I've nearly run out of yarn though...time to make another trip to Dongdaemun.

I have also been thinking a bit about wisdom. I'm reading James these days, and chapter 3 talks a bit about what God-style wisdom is like: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. That's a pretty extensive list...kind of like reading Galatians  5:22-23 and realizing you're quite a few cherries short of the fruit salad. The one that really has been sticking out to me these days is "considerate." My style is to go with what seems like the most practical or logical decision, but that isn't always the most considerate one. I want to become better at watching and considering the needs and feelings of other people when I act and make decisions. 

Well, take a look at these little tidbits as well:

Community News:

* AURIE IS HERE. She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen. No joke. She also looks so much like Lomie...The Cute-O-Meter in this place is off the charts.

* The Teacher's Office is an icebox. Even the KOPI office which has no official heating is warmer with its space heaters. Fingerless gloves 주주.

* Me and Sarah's TOPIK results come out in two-ish weeks... yipes!

Quotes from the Community:

"I really love this chemical combination!" --Sarah's thoughts about McDonalds non-dairy ice cream cones.

"I'm just deciding what I want to do with my life. Give me a second." ---Kate

"I kind of like the way leg hair glitters in the sunlight!"--Anna

"Our anthem is too slow...we need like a hip hop one: 'We had a war, we had a war, 1950, June 25, now we still hate each other.....Shoot.'" --Yoonseo's idea for improving Korea's National Anthem.

Quotes from the Classroom:

Joy: "Teacher my mom say you are Sexy Baby! Face is baby, body is sexy!" 
Abby: "................tell your mom I say thank you.....?" 

Abby: "What are they eating?"
Jerry: "Stew and fish and bread and water and air and water vapor."
Abby: "........yep."

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Remember Remember the 6th of November

Today was a super day for various reasons, so why not remember it? I am resisting big time putting a Christmas song as my blog music, since I am currently listening to Sleeping At Last's fantabulous Christmas album right at this moment, but instead I'll give you some more Rooftop Moonlight (옥상달빛), my favorite song by them: 수고했어 오늘도. 

This past Friday we had our Thanksgiving party at Connexus. It involved making turkey hands (classic...and kind of cliche in the USA maybe, but not here woohoo!) and eating a motherload of snacks. I was seriously feeling like a beached whale by the end of of the day. We also had some awesome decorations--tons of paper leaves and a gorgeous table arrangement created by Karen and Kaia. It was so much more fun than doing some Halloween thing which is the expected thing to do in English hagwons. I made some sweet autumn paper cuttings too (basically paper snowflakes but with some leaf designs in them).  Sometime soon I will post photos...I need to switch the hard drive in this computer to the one from my old one so that I can edit them up a bit. 

What else is up? I've been laughing a lot in my classes lately. My students have been so hilarious. My 6:30 class in particular is too much fun. We started a new storybook this month, the Fisherman and his Wife, and they love reading the book with crazy voices. This time their magic fish prince voices and Fisherman's voices were too good. The fish was sounded like he had egg in his throat and the Fisherman sounded like a sultry woman. 

I've also started being a little firmer on some of my classes. Two of my phonics babies were kind of  crazy today and wouldn't stop playing with each other when it wasn't their turn to answer, so I made them sit separately right in the middle of class. I felt like a little bit of a jerk, but they got the message and were well-behaved the rest of class. 

In the God department, I'm learning to trust more, learning patience and learning to cancel fear...I've realized that I've let fear prevent me from growing in a lot of areas in the past, and I don't want it to shape the decisions I make in the future. So here's to being brave with Jesus! 

Things are good :-) Seems almost like the new year is here. 

Community News:

* Severe lack of Aurie...come on baby!!! I want to meet you so bad!

* Seriously detailed Connexus video in the works. It is going to be hilarious and awesome.

Recently Watched:

* Captain Philips. I cried. Bottom line? Everything wasn't going to be ok, Irish.

* Downton Abbey season 2 episode 7. Branson and Sybil 4eva. 

Recently tried:
* Hot Grapefruit juice/tea. So good!

Quotes from the community:

"Wow Michael, good thing you have go-go gadget arms!"-Heather

"People returning to their burps is so much better than dogs returning to their vomit." --Kaia.

Quotes from the classroom:

Cindy: "If you were an elephant, what would you do?"
Eileen: "I would eat Connexus."

Me: "What do you see in the picture?"
Hyesu: *points to a character's butt* "Teacher! so big!"
Me: ......."so it is..."

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Warm fuzzies

Because this is how I'm currently feeling, take a listen to this short but sweet classic from The Muppets Take Manhattan: Together Again.

This is it people. Soon all the pals are in the same building again. It is going to be fun times, let me tell you. I'm not loving the whole-moving-before-and-after-work deal, but it's less stressful this time because of less stuff and knowing that it's the last time for a while. Also, it can be a lot of fun too.

I  realized that this past Saturday marked the end of 5 months here for me. I suppose it would be cooler and more impressive to make note of 6 months, but for me it's kind of big because it's officially the longest I've lived outside of the U.S. Study abroad at Oxford was just shy of 4 months, so I suppose I should be experiencing all kinds of new emotions and thoughts since now I'm into uncharted territory. 

I guess it's a little surprising then that I really haven't had any "batten down the hatches" moments. Maybe they're coming yet, but the only thing that seems different is that things don't feel as different. It just feels like living. Somehow that's more of a milestone for me anyway. To realize that slowly you've put down enough roots in a place that a mildly strong wind isn't going to knock you down. 

On the teaching side of things, I don't have anything much different from last week to report, but here's a little anecdote. I always tell my 6:30 class on Storybook days the number of different voices they need to have to encourage expressive reading. We're working through Thumbelina these days, so as usual, I gave them the lowdown:

Me: "Ok we're ready to read! remember, you need four different voices: Mouse voice, Thumbelina voice, Bird voice and reading voice ."

Grace: "'The Mole wants to marry you,' says the mouse. 'You need new clothes.'

Joochan: "The next day Thumbelina looks out....says the reading voice." 

Guess which part of that last sentence wasn't in the book. What a goober.

We finished moving for the final time this morning! It feels good to be finished with that, but I will say that though it makes for a pretty tiring day of teaching afterwards, so far I have very fond memories of moving because it feels good to work together, and usually hilarious things happen. Personal favorite from today was Yoonseo carrying the green couches to their final resting place on his head. Picture a giant green square with tiny little feet shuffling along towards the recycling pile. Also the fridge leaking a bunch of water as the guys loaded it on the lift, then Yongjin yelling "The baby is coming!"

But actually, the baby is coming. Seriously excited for little Aurie to arrive in the next couple weeks! Prayers appreciated for her safe arrival and for Karen and Jae and Lomie. Also lots of prayer for Sangmin, the CO from church. He called the police yesterday to inform them he was not going to obey his military service summons and so has started the process of going to jail instead. 

This place and these people give me some serious warm fuzzies.
Recently Achieved

* Finally finished The Brothers K. Please everyone and their mother read it. Best book I've read this year.

*Finished that scarf! And still unsure about the successfulness of that pattern. 

Recently Not Achieved:

* Hitting any baseballs properly at the batting cages. Apparently reading novels about baseball doesn't translate into any actual skills. Shucks.

Quotes from the Community

"Maybe the Omega 3 pills I am taking will give me an advantage!" --Anna's thoughts on No-Shave November: Legs Edition.

"One time I was going through my things and found a piece of my umbilical cord!" --Kaia

"Coji and antique-y."--Yoonseo's vision for the new apartment.

"Why do we have so many refrigerators?!"--Yongjin speaks what all of us are wondering.

Quotes from the Classroom

"Oh help!" says the big girl. The big boy flips her dress." --Joy's semi-sketchy homework sentence.

"My father is hairy because he is man."--Andrew's homework sentence.

"'Find something heavy.' Abby teacher?" --Cindy 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day by Day

Due to my title, wouldn't it be fitting to use 하루하루 as my blog music today? Too fitting, so I'm not doing it. Plus I already used it I think. So instead, try some nice Bollywood. From the film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), please enjoy Haule Haule. You can watch and learn the dance too, because why not? 

Yesterday was a good day in class, and the biggest reason it was good made me feel kind of sheepish. I decided that I was going to try to focus on making one of my classes really go well, make it a really positive experience for the students and try really hard to keep them engaged the whole time. So I went in with a "go-get-'em" positive attitude and the class was fantastic. So the good vibes from that class fed into the next, and then the next and then the next, till the entire day was feeling like a success. Key factor? me. 

It's a little hard to realize that the days that go badly could just be my perception because of a less than great attitude, or because I wasn't determined enough to make it work. Not that there won't be bad days even when I do it all right, but I can foresee that there would probably be a lot less of them if I did a "teacher-readiness check" before class. If I'm not engaged, my students won't be either. Learning day by day, right?

As for fun community stuff, yesterday we had our Thanksgiving meal! Talk about a spread. Chicken and vegetables, stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked corn, japchae, cheon, copious amounts of breads, cakes and pies, salads...hokey dinah. I  was properly Thanksgiving full at the end. I may or may not have purposely wore a dress instead of pants to make room for food baby. There were around 40 people as guests including all of us Connexus and KOPI/NARPI staff. Past Connexus teachers, friends from church, family (real and host) and people we just met too. We had Pastor Kate from the Duke Center for Reconciliation, Anna's friend that she met at the subway station and a guy from Austria that Karen met, as well some of Anna and Sarah's teachers from Korean class. One of those times to meet new people and enjoy the old connections too. This is a good place, in the words of Anna Ruth. These are good people.

And if you get tired of it, you can always go into the teacher's office and play Candy Crush and drink tea for introvert time. ㅋㅋㅋ.

Community News

* Moving day for Heather, Michael, Yongjin, Yoonseo, and Sunghyun is October 29 or 30. Only a week before we're all together again! 

* We're doing a Thanksgiving party this year at Connexus instead of Halloween, which I am so pumped for. Gonna decorate the heck out of my classroom! Leaves and pumpkins and all kinds of Fall-y stuff.

Recently watched

* Season 1 finale of Downton. O'Brian is yet again a huge turd and War is upon us.

* Gravity. Saw in the 4-D theater yesterday, so it was probably doubly as intense as it would be usually. Besides being a nail-biter, it was a very rich film too. The film is about an accident in space, as far as plot goes, but that wasn't what it was really about. It had a lot of great symbolism and is one I would definitely like to see again sometime. Getting that paper writing itch....

Quotes from Community

"I beat level 64. Thank Jesus." --Heather

"That movie is a little bit sticky and steamy though." --Yoonseo's thoughts on Ghost (1990)

"Only hold?" --Lomestar Runner the techie toddler

"Help us to eat well and poop well."---Yoonseo's Thanksgiving prayer

"I can't dance very well because of this tuna." --Anna

"Some people have some really nice moles."--Heather

Quotes from the Classroom

"Sarah fase is very terrible. This is lie."--One of Sarah's student's homework sentences.

"Is the Beast very angry, ugly father?" --Heather's student's reinterpretation of Beauty's opinion of her father's appearance. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grammar Day!

Today's music is ABBA again, a song that just won't get out of my head. And we're going to listen to the Mamma Mia version because Colin Firth's voice is so delightfully nasal: Last Summer.

What's up, chicken butt? (Natalie, that's for you!)

I keep thinking that I am writing on this blog often, but I've been kind of sporadic lately. Sorry to all my devoted readers chomping at the bit. Ha!

Today is my grammar day, so other than my first class, which is Phonics, the Korean teacher gives a grammar lesson in Korean to the rest of my students, so I get to be a little lazy. Awesome!

This week has been a pretty normal teaching week...made some progress, took too long in conversation, taught a nice collection of words including "walnut shell" and "mountain tick"...you know, the usual. 

I feel like I am beginning to have a good idea about my students learning styles and needs. I know that Yoobin is better when she is up and doing something and that erasers distract her, and that Yoochan needs to point to words when he reads. I know that Cindy needs a little more time to think because she's quiet, and Jerry needs more time because he talks too quickly and makes mistakes. I know that Seokhee thrive with praise, and so do the Blue 4 girls. 

Maybe it's because I never had a chance to study education, but I guess I never realized that though a big part of teaching is delivering information to learners, it's also just as much about you learning. Learning to know when a head on the table means your student is tired and when it means they are sad, when the squint of an eye means they're upset and when it means they're thinking. Learning to look at your methods and say 'well that didn't work!' and being able to change them. It's tough, but it sure makes the day interesting! 

All you teachers out there, what is one valuable thing you've learned? I want your knowledge!

Community News:
* Canadian-American combo Thanksgiving Dinner this Sunday! (Sadly, it's not Dancegiving...Come on babies!) I am in charge of the mashed potatoes, which I will make after I get back from...

* TOPIK test on Sunday for me and Sarah! My test is in the morning, so I am skipping church. I am expecting to pass level 1 but am secretly hoping to get level 2 (whoops not a secret now). Tonight we're taking half of a practice test... I'm hoping to get better at the grammar and writing section ...

* We've started Downtown Abbey. Hold on to your hats and loosen those corsets, kiddos. We're in for an emotional ride, so I've been told.

* Michael's parents arrived today to visit for two weeks! Always nice to have more Canadians around.  

Recent achievements

* Finished the TOPIK Beginner Level flash card set on Memrise...in theory I know 866 words! in reality probably not even close to that. 

*  Finished half of the first scarf of the season! I tried a little basket weave looking pattern which may be weird for a scarf. I haven't made up my mind about how I feel about it.

Quotes from the Community:

"I sometimes think that I would die painfully because of ramen."--Yoonseo

Heather:  "Michael's parents are coming today!"
Juhee: "Oh dear...... no, I mean, Oh how happy!"

Heather: "Michael's dad has a mustache."
Yoonseo: "Good. I have a razor."

Abby: "My knee hurts suddenly."
Sarah: "Is the pain acute?
Anna: "Is it obtuse?"

Recently heard in the classroom

Joy: "Which do you like better, surgery or vultures?"
Hyesu: "I don't like either."

"Teacher your hair is so pretty! Cut and give me."--Susan the cute-but-also-sometimes-creepy-by-accident student.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Happy Hangul Day!

Today's music is some Eric Whitacre, because who can ever get enough of that guy. I listened to a piece of his called October the other day, and then found this piece, which seems to be the same theme but arranged in a choral piece. There is only one lyric: Alleluia. Sometimes there is too much thankfulness in me to say anything else, so here's a song of worship for when your heart is full: Alleluia.

It's Hangul Day here, a day celebrating the incredibly awesome and logical Korean alphabet. Thank you King Sejong for being such a cool monarch. As I saw written so wisely somewhere on the internet, somewhere he and Sequoia are giving each other high fives. Linguistics Hall of Famers. If you feel bored, teach yourself the alphabet...might take you 3 hours tops to have it down pat? It's that good.

Last week we went on a staff retreat in Pocheon, spent some time together playing games and learning some more about restorative justice practices. One of my favorites was the game where we split into teams and picked animals for the people in that group that accurately represented us, then traded lists and tried to guess which animal went with which person. Some of them were more fitting than others, but here's our list:
Me: Swan             Karen: Sheep  
Yoonseo: Hyena     Sarah: Llama
Heather: Dolphin    Kate: Hummingbird
Juhee: Black Bear   Michael: Meerkat
Sunghyun: Sloth    Anna: Goat
Yongjin: Deer        Kaia: Koala
Minji: Hamster       Jae: Hanwoo (Korean Beef Cow)

Personally, I'm not fully on board with swan for myself. Maybe goose is more fitting. Anyway, it was an awesome time of fellowship, hanging out, playing some early morning badminton, listening the Vince Guaraldi trio while drinking Cass beer and Rooibos tea etc. The teachers also heard a little more about what our KOPI staff are doing with their lectures and workshops about restorative justice, which is a totally fascinating field that maybe I'll make a quick little post about sometime after I do more reading on it.

These days I have been feeling so blessed by this community that I get to work and live with. Basically all of them are awesome all the time, so it's hard to express it, but here's some concrete examples for you:
My computer recently bit the dust, which is a really huge bummer, because it would probably take me a few months to save up even for a little rinky-dink netbook, so I was trying to figure out what to do, when Yongjin said he had an old macbook that has a bad battery, but can be used if it is plugged in that he could lend me. I was actually starting to feel really stressed about the situation that day, and it took a lot of weight off my shoulders. Thanks Yongjin!

Two days ago I had a terrible sneezing cold/pressure sinus thing that made me feel like I simultaneously had been punched in the eye and had cotton in my head and a nose like a faucet. It was especially bad in the evening, and I was planning to just take some benadryl and go to bed without dinner, but Kaia came to the rescue and made me dinner in bed and chamomile tea. I was able to fall asleep early feeling all warm in my tum and woke up the next morning feeling so much better. Thanks Kaia!

Community News:
* Today is also Karen's birthday and baby shower day! I am making pumpkin soup again yippeeeee!
* All of us teachers and Kaia just ran in a 5k in Chuncheon to raise money for Justice or North Korea, which focuses on helping North Korean refugees. It was an awesome day. We met up with Eunhye, Yoonseo's school friend who lives in Chuncheon and all ran together and then went out for dalkkalbi after.
* TOPIK exam in just 12 days for me and Sarah. Yikes!
* Michael, Heather, Kate, Anna and I are going to start doing language exchange with a guy who is interning for KOPI, Dongwook. He's teaching us Korean and we're going to take turns teaching him English. I'm super pumped to get some more practice with conversation.

Recently Watched:
* Return To Me (2000). Because we can't get enough rom-com in this place.
* Last episode of Sherlock, the Reichenbach Fall. Holy crap. I'm late to the party but...SHERLOCK HOW?!
* Next Up: Downtown Abbey.

Recent Quotes:
* "Always pursue the greatness of sky-shaping...I'm a poet."--Man at the subway keen to practice his English
* "Are you guys home yet? Settlers."--Heather the recent game-a-holic.

In the classroom:
* "My mom is very old." Jiwon's spelling test sample sentence.
* " The Hen has a bread store and makes a lot of money." (accompanied by picture of a Tous Les Jours store) --Dongwon's ending to the Little Red Hen story.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall is blowing in

The air is cooler, the leaves are slowly, slowly starting to change....my favorite season is coming! This instrumental piece from Busker Busker's new album expresses my feelings exactly: Autumn Night.

I got some sad news this morning, that my favorite student Jack (Yoohan) will be leaving Connexus. Friday is his last day. He is switching schools so that he has the opportunity to play on a school soccer team, because he's very good at pretty much every sport ever. I've never had the pleasure of teaching a more diligent, kind, respectful or flexible student than him. Stuck in a class with three girls that are really silly and sometimes even mean to him, he has never once been a stinker. So here's to you Jack! Thanks for making my job a joy, buddy! Wow getting teary-eyed all of a sudden. It's the teacher feels.

Today me and Sunghyun made some pretty bangin' pumpkin soup, which I improvised off of this recipe: Easy Pumpkin Soup. I used less milk, and instead of chicken stock, which is hard to find here, I made a broth with lots of salt, pepper, curry and nutmeg. I also left the potatoes out of two of the pots and made the soup have a more unadulterated pumpkin taste. The one with the potato was also awesome, but I think out of the two I preferred the just pumpkin. I also WAY overshot with how much of the soup my ingredients would make. As in, two full pots of soup leftover. Not that I'm complaining...dinner tonight 주주.

Last night me and Heather and Michael and Yoonseo went to see Blue Jasmine, the new Woody Allen film. So good! It reminded me A Streetcar Named Desire...so much so that I really want someone to write a comparison paper on the two of them. Again, less about plot and more about human interaction and identity and all that deep stuff. Loved the end--nice and abrupt.

Community News:

* One of the church members at Grace and Peace, Sangmin, after receiving his draft notice for the mandatory military service effective in Korea, is making the hard decision of being a conscientious objector. This means that instead of doing something that conflicts with his faith, he will serve around a year term in jail and will have a permanent criminal record, making getting a decent job very difficult. It will also be very hard on his family, particularly his mother who will most likely get a lot of flak from her in-laws and husband, who will view his decision as partly her fault as a parent. Please pray for Sangmin and his family! Mention him to your churches too. I think it will be encouraging for him to know that anabaptist churches around the world are praying for him and supporting him. His draft date is October 29.

* WIFI IS COMING TO OUR APARTMENT ON WEDNESDAY. Thank the sweet Lord and Yoonseo.

* Thursday is staff retreat! We are supposedly going to a really nice pension with some really pretty reeds nearby. It will be short, but a nice time.

* This past Friday was an awesome game day thanks to the great planning of Heather! We played rock, papers, scissors tournament, blanket name game, and animal team charades. I took some videos :-)

* The Christmas Food Document has been created. It may or may not be mostly dessert so far.

* Bye bye to the Connexus van! we handed it over last night to my host father who will drive it to KAC for us. We'll miss that bucket of bolts, especially when we have to walk to work in the winter when there aren't KOPI cars for us to ride in.

Recent Accomplishments:

* Finished The Aquariums of Pyongyang, which I highly recommend. Memoir of a man who spent 10 years in a work camp in North Korea. Think One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich only it's a decade and about three times as horrible. Now on to The Brothers K!

* I've now driven the i30 (which so far is not a lemon afterall) twice and haven't crashed. I have also turned left at a red light several times which is normal here, as is going through red lights if no one is coming. Better not keeps those habits coming back to the states....

* Successfully transferred money to the U.S. and made a budget using the EEBA app on my ipod! Hopefully I stick to it...

Short one today guys! thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Well, vacation is over and we're back to school, so how about a little Bang & Zelo with Never Give Up. Korean rap over a clock chime theme with some gospel choir too. "I'm back in the school, back back in the school!" Luuuv it.

So, on our way back from Chuseok, we got the news that instead of the end of October as we had thought, we were actually going to be moving the coming week. Welcome home, vacation is OVER.

Just kidding, it’s actually a really great thing, because our new living arrangements are sooo nice. We’re now living five people to a large and spacious three-bedroom apartment, with actual counters in the kitchen and two bathrooms! We are spread among three different floors instead of all being on the same one, which will be different and mean we have to work harder to visit each other, but I think it’s going to be sweet overall. That’s the main update, really. Needless to say, we have been super pooped, doing heavy moving and cleaning before work every morning and evening so far this week. We have to be completely out by Wednesday night. Actually, it’s only the single female teachers who are moving now. Heather and Michael and the KOPI men will follow at the end of the month as planned. The landowner needs to rent our rooms sooner while there are people looking for places in the fall, so he asked if we could free up a few rooms as soon as possible, since we were planning on leaving anyway.

Other Community News:
  • Juhee is here training as the new Korean teacher and manager. We chatted yesterday all together in the office about how we can improve the kids’ experience and make the most of the curriculum. I think she is going to be an awesome fit for Connexus. She also will be my new cooking partner along with Sunghyun.
  • We don’t have internet at the new apartment yet. I am surviving by drafting blog posts on Microsoft Word and playing Candy Crush.
  • Hyunho’s last day as driver is Saturday, and Sunny’s last day as Korean teacher is Monday. Sarah Jill also will be starting her new teaching job at another hagwon soon, so she won't be around as much. We’re going to miss them!
  • Thursday is Sunghyun’s first lecture for KOPI. Say a prayer for him!
  • Yoonseo’s beloved i30 is possibly a lemon? Say it ain’t so! The mirror started smoking of all things, and now the horn doesn’t work. Greatest of sympathies, 부원장님.
  • Kate and I fixed a drawer using glue and exacto knives and hammers and nails. I think we are maybe grown-ups now.
Recent Community Quotes:
  • “I’m really into mom blogs!” –Michael
  • 조지오! 화장실 하나 주세요!” –Heather
  • “When almond dies…then it is diamond.”—Myeongseo
  • “Good job. 좋은 직업.” –Yoonseo.
  • “I’m having PMS. Is that the right way to say it?” –Yoonseo.
  • Kaia: “I like your swiping motion." Sarah: “Thank you. Is it pretty sexy?”
  • On McDonalds food: “It’s sitting heavy, but it’s sitting good.” –Heather.
  • “Can you help me? Nevermind, I’m strong.” –Michael
  • “Sometimes I feel like certain types of garbage on my desk makes me look cool.” –Anna
  • "I'm crushing on Mamma Mia these days." --Yoonseo
What I'm listening to lately:
* Busker Busker's NEW ALBUM!!!! So freaking good.
* Frank Sinatra still

Recently Heard in the classroom:
Susan: "Abby, would you rather live with five Eileens or with five cats?"
Abby: "I think...Five cats definitely."
Jack: "But teacher....Poop!"

Cindy:" Jack would you rather live with a thousand centipedes, or a thousand snails on your body?"
Jack: "I would rather live with centipedes.
Cindy: "Why?"
Jack: "Because not on body and I can kill.
Cindy: "They are in your room."
Jack: "I can kill."
Susan: "A thousand?"
Jack: "Dynamite."

Thanks for reading!