Thursday, February 27, 2014


Song of the day is the Olympic Theme. Because it's that time of year. Guess who wrote it? John Williams. I like the fact that the Olympics theme came from the same mind that composed for Star Wars. So have a listen: Olympics Fanfare and Theme.

Speaking of Olympics, we just had a little competition of our own at Connexus this past Friday. The Friday before we had each class create their own flag and country name. Trying to get four kids to coordinate on a design was a doozer of a task in many of the classes, but in the end we came up with some great flags and great team names. I had a Frozen Castle team among my bunch, but the other teachers had some even greater ones: Eat the Rainbow, Freedom Dragons, Parkour Generation, Crystal Republic, Music Ghosts etc.

Heather came up with five events:
* a bobsled race  (push an ice cube with your nose)
* a biathalon (knock over a bottle with a ball/ hit a target with a rubber band)
* a baton relay (featuring a rubber chicken)/Clothespin curling (drop a clothespin from under your chin into a cup)
* Chopsticks drop (picking up little foam squares and transferring them with chopsticks to a bowl as fast as you can)
* Ski dress relay (put on ski clothes and go around box, then take them off and give to the next person)

Each team competed by themselves at each station, getting 5 minutes to get their best time, which they wrote on the official time sheet at the station. They would be able to see the times of the other teams, so the competition was definitely on, but there wasn't as much pressure as if they were competing in the same room.

It was so fun! So many students that usually are grumps on activity day were too busy to complain, and it was really cool to see the kids work together and cheer each other on. My vocal chords were pretty much shot by the end (we later went to karaoke with two of the students, so that didn't help hehehe).

I came away with two bronze medal teams, a silver team and one gold. Let me tell you, for the gold one, I think I was as nervous as the girls in the team...we heard bronze called, then silver, and were thinking we were out of it, but then...dun dun dun! We screamed pretty loud. The day was exhausting, but everyone loved it.

Other important connexus news is the in-progress review/enrichment month being added at the end of all Backpack units. We've noticed that there are quite a few classes and many individual students that are being pushed along into higher levels when they are not ready. Case-in -oint would be one of my students who is about to move into an advanced beginner level and still is unable to read.

Since the Blue and Yellow levels are in the most urgent need for review curriculum, we're focusing on those first. My current Blue 9 class will be the first to try it out, so I have been responsible for creating most of the plan...yikes! I am a little nervous to try it out, since it's all on me, but at the same time, because it's so flexible, I feel like it will be ok to drastically change the plan's the test run after all.

I have another Blue class that is only one level behind the one that is doing the review month next month, so as soon as I finish teaching the review month, I will teach it again, so I am hoping that I will be able to work out most of the kinks in these two months. It's great to finally be doing something to try to help the kids get caught up, because it's been a problem for a while. So here's hoping!

Outside of Connexus, I haven't done many new things...something I would like to change! Routine is good, but not when you start to forget what you did the last couple weeks because they all run together.

Two weeks ago I started something new: a language exchange! A Korean friend of Anna's was interested in doing a language exchange, so I met her two sundays ago and we talked for two hours, about 40% English, 60% in Korean...It was so wonderful! Usually I end up not trying to speak Korean on a daily basis because it takes me a while to say what I want to say, and I feel like people don't have time or are a little annoyed at having to wait so long, so I just speak English. But at the language exchange, Jieun waited for as long as I needed, so I realized that I actually can communicate (maybe not completely correctly, but understandably) lots of things I didn't know I could--I just never got the chance to try! It was a really neat time, and I hope I can do it more regularly.

And, now I will have a little more time than expected to do some of the fun things/studying I wanted to do while here...I will most likely be staying until the end of July now, because of the unavailability of most of the teachers applying before the fall. To come at the beginning of June is really soon for most people who are applying now, because they'd like the summer to visit family or whatnot, not to mention the lengthy visa application process. So, I'm added around 2 months on to the end of my time.

I'm actually feeling good about that--it was kind of scary to think that I only had three months left actually; time goes so quickly here that I knew that it was going to feel like the blink of an eye. I'm glad now for the chance to have a bit more time, and also be thinking about how to use it wisely. Busan and Jeju are still on my list of places to go.

I guess those are the most recent developments! a little long and dull, I apologize. You can just scroll to the bottom for the quotes... :-p

Thanks for reading!

Community News:
* End of January marked the first batch of online report cards. We are moving up in the tehno world! seriously, it turned a 6 hour job into a 2.5-3 hour job. Typing for the win!

* This February marked 100 days for little Aurie, and 100 days together for me and Yoonseo. Hooray for special days!

* We're official wedding singers! The Connexus crew and KOPI/NARPI are singing the wedding songs at Sarah Jill and Jong's wedding. We practiced a bit and already we are sounding super. Not to brag or anything....

* Two new female KOPI interns, Minjung and Angela, will be moving into our old apartment building soon! Good old  백유동산 is still a part of the community.

Quotes from the Community:

Yoonseo: "This soup is good..Can you give me some more juice--more brenda?"
Abby: "Broth?"
Yoonseo: "Yes, what a beautiful name."

"I'm never being sarcastic."--Anna.

Watching speedskating...
"Can they use this ice for patbingsoo after? Put down red beans and everyone eat together?"-Yoonseo.

"Kevin--I mean, Michael--"--Heather
"Now I know who you really love!"--Michael.

Abby: "How do you feel about the muppets?"
Yoonseo: "I want to drink soju with them one time."

Yoonseo: "You know, my nickname was Apple."
Abby: "I thought you said it was Strawberry?"
Yoonseo: "That's for the Spring."

Quotes from the Classroom:

We were talking about the Olympics in my newly moved up 3:30 Blue 8 class, and Hyesu told me, "Teacher, in 2018, Olympics in Pyongchang!" So I asked them how old they would be, and this began a hilarious conversation. They told me that they would be 15 and 16. After agreeing that this was pretty old, they then asked me,
"Teacher, how old? 29!"
"Oh man, so old. Maybe I will come to Korea and see the Olympics then."
" wedding?"
"Oh maybe. You want to come?"
 "Yes! and wedding 축하 (congratulation song?) is 'F is for Fred!"
"Oh good idea, you can come to my wedding and sing all the Backpack songs for me!"
*they begin a run down of their Backpack repetoire until I decide it's time to actually study...hahaha*

Abby: Who is your favorite character in "The Princess and the Pea?"
Yoochan: Pea.

"My favorite animal is a beach alligator."--Daniel

Cindy: "What does 'noticed' mean?"
Abby: "It means something like, 'You see and know for the first time.'"
Susan: ", 'I noticed I don't have a dog'?"

"When girls take off glasses they are pretty, but when boys take off glasses they are more ugly."--Susan and Eileen. Typical. They can be really hilarious and so shallow at the same time.

"Raphael...stand down."--Daniel. I think he meant 'sit,' but they both were appropriate in the situation.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lunar New Year

Have a listen to this song by Rooftop Moonlight. It's been stuck in my head for a few days, so hopefully it gets stuck in yours! 정말 고마워서 만든 노래 (Thank You So Much).

February 1! A new year again, this time according to the moon. I suppose since I forgot to make any New Year;s resolutions on January 1, I can make them now. I don't have many:

1. Get to know my best friend better. That's right, some serious Jesus time.
2. Learn. to. speak. Korean. gosh . darnit.
3. Have some marvelous adventures with marvelous people.

I've started on number three already, actually! This past weekend I visited Ganghwado, an island to the west that is only a few kilometers from North Korea. Kate and I went with Sarah, who graciously organized the whole thing. We didn't have a packed schedule, mostly going to the Peace Observatory and checking out some other things as we felt like it.

Visiting the Peace Observatory was both a really neat and an odd experience. It has a fantastic view of a the North Korean village...some of which is fake, but there are people who live there too. We could see them through binoculars, on their bicycles, a family or friends gathered in front of a house. Just normal things. On a holiday like Seollal when Koreans usually are with family, it was sad to think that there were some families that were still divided, on either side of a river that was only a few kilometers wide physically, but much further in reality.

While looking at the village, I thought how strange it was...there was a probably a bird somewhere who lived in North Korea and flew across the river to South Korea whenever she liked to get some food or look for sticks in a new place, going and coming freely. How many older Koreans with siblings and cousins across the divide can only dream of that for themselves and their families. May God grant it in their lifetimes.

Our pension was on the other side of the island, so it took a little while by bus to get there, but it was very quaint and comfy, in the slightly tacky way of every pension-y place I've been to here so far. We played Dutch Blitz, and Phase 10 and Banagrams, which I lost, but was pretty pumped to be able to play the words "pidgeons" and "prenatal." We slept in pretty late the next morning, which was of course glorious, and then the pension owner gave us a ride to the rocky beach area next to the bus stop we were headed to. The weather was very overcast, and it was a little windy, so the rocky beach was putting me in mind of visit to Cramond island in Scotland. Wild places everywhere have a taste of each other.

While on the rock beach just enjoying some nature without frills or loudspeakers, we were talking about how it was being a kid and how we feel nostaligic for it. Sarah mentioned that she wished she could experience life like a child does, which is to simply do and not think about experiencing it. So many times as adults, we have marvelous moments, just as marvelous as ones that we had as children, but unlike our childhood moments, we are aware of how special they are. We make a mental note to treasure them, to savor them. Not that doing that is wrong or not important, but sometimes it can seem like you're taking pictures all the time and forgetting to look out from behind the camera and just see it as it is. I hope I can do that more this year.

We arrived at the old Anglican church just as the rain started to come down hard. It was built in 1900 and is one of the oldest in Korea. It is also one of the only churches I have seen so far built in a traditional Korean style, with the beautiful red and turquoise wood and concave roof. I was talking with Karen later about it, and she mentioned how it seemed that older church traditions, like Anglicanism and Catholocism seem to often times do a better job of taking on the architecture of the countries and areas where they are present. Probably because those faith styles traditionally have taken the space or building used for services into account as an important part of the worship experience, thus building in such a way as to communicate the importance of the place to the people who will worship there. We weren't able to go inside the church at the time we visited, but someday I would like to go there on a Sunday morning.

So, it was a fantastic vacation! I feel very refreshed, ready to finish off the Connexus month well.

Community News:

* This month is our first month of doing the report cards on the computer! huzzah to digitalization.

* We're also hoping to begin discussions about adding an enrichment month into the curriculum year to help the kids who are struggling have a time for review and give the kids who are doing well a chance to do some new and fun projects.

* We are starting the process of interviewing new teachers! Only problem is...there aren't many applicants. If you know anyone interested, or you are interested yourself, contact me!

Quotes from the Community:

"My face is so close to my face."--Kate experiences the last-elevator-down squish next to the mirror.

Yoonseo: "Did you finish that Uptown Girl thing?"
Me: "Downton Abbey?"

Yoonseo: "I think Yongjin got more handsome after drinking American water."
Yongjin: "I did drink a lot of water."

Thanks for reading!