Sunday, March 27, 2011

Teacher Dinner

Three weeks ago our supervisor, Joanne Teacher, left SLP school. Very sad. When we have teachers coming and going our principal, Mr Won... a man with a business background, takes the staff out to dinner. We had a Teacher Dinner last Friday both for wishing farewells to Joanne and to welcome new staff, us included. The night went as follows:

Stage 1 (pronounced "stay-jee won") SASHIMI

We went out to a traditional Korean style sashimi restaurant, where we all take off our shoes, sit on cushions and take shots of Soju. It's typical for men to sit at one end of the table and women at the other. We learned how to properly pour and receive alcoholic drinks. The recipient holds her/glass with at least one hand on the cup and if the other hand cannot reach then it touches the extended arm at the elbow, shoulder or chest. The cup must be held, not resting on the table. The pourer holds the beverage with both hands, if possible, and pours. You are NOT allowed to pour your own drink. If you would like a refill you lift your glass and politely gesture for a refill. It is also respectful to bring your shot glass to the host, head of the table, and give it to him to hold and receive a drink poured by you. Then the host reciprocates by pouring you a shot. 
That's just the down-low on the drinks.
The food was beautiful and fresh! Fish directly from the tanks were sliced up to be enjoyed on our plates. The sides were incredible... bakes oysters on the shell with egg, salmon with creamy sauces, maki rolls, bowls of egg custards, red chili salads, pear salads, cabbage salads... and many more.

Men's Side

Women's Side

Stage ("stay-jee") 2- BEER BAR

At the Beer Bar the drinking continued. The men raced to the bottoms of their glasses, more than 1 time. Women clinked glasses in cheers, saying "gon-bay." 
A korean teacher told me that the men were unusually loud this night. There was a strong jolliness in the crowd. A couple of older Korean men came in and walked down to the men's end of the table and scolded them for being so loud and disrespectful. Kent sent a bottle of Soju to their table as a peace offering. After a little while he went over to the men to shake hands and the previously upset man took Kent's hand, looked long and hard at him and referred to himself as "older brother," in Korean, to Kent. The man felt very respected and was so grateful that he bought them 2 rounds of beers. It was a cool connecting moment for Kent. I guess it's like in the States, nothing says "I'm sorry" and "Thank you" like a round of drinks. 

Joanne Teacher... it's her going away party.

Stage ("stay-jee") 3- Noribong

It took a little persuading but we got the boss to spring for some kareoke... in Korean, Noribong! The group had dwindled but there was a strong showing in the singing room. Kent got the party going immediately, grabbing the mic and singing our school's kid song... a cappella. Mr. Won paid from a big table of beer and snacks and an hour of singing room time. Although the foreign teachers are more loud and outgoing to the untrained eye, when a Korean teacher takes the mic all eyes are on her. Koreans sure know how to noribong (literally translated into singing room). We had such a great time, that when the hour was over, we paid for another whole hour of singing fun. By that time is was only co-teacher Courtney, her boyfriend Joe, and us Hutchu's. 

Hailey Teacher has a voice like a songbird.

Mr. Choi had a very good time. 

Kent Teacher also had a very good time.

Jade Teacher will also be leaving SLP School this summer. 
She's Kent's main co-teacher and she will missed. 
Teachers Chaewon, Jade and Hailey

This is how the end of the night looked: Kent, me, Courtney (Coco) and Joe

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Teachings and Philosophy of Dodgeball

I am "Gym Teacher Kent" everyday besides thursdays.  Thursdays are reserved for random specialty days like show and tell or cooking class (last thursday we made Tuna Canape).  Gym class is as extremely rewarding however the reward only comes after investing extreme effort.  Maintaining composure in gym class is A true give and take scenario.  Our Gymnasium is an extra large classroom equipped with 4 plastic balls and some hula hoops.  At first, coming up with games or activities to play during gym class was a challenge.  That is until I introduced Dodgeball.  Actually it isn't just me diving this dodgeball train.  Shane teacher is the co-gym teacher and with out him things would be much more difficult.

All the kids Love dodgeball.  And after about 5 minutes of run-through instructions prior to playing they usually abide by most of the rules; hit in the head-not out, cross the center line-out...  I was not prepared for what was about to come.  During my first few dodgeball classes there were almost as many face shots as there were body shots.  The dodgeballs are soft and not dangerous mind you but the expressions on these hyper-cute Korean kids faces after getting hit are startlingly funny.  I realize how this sounds and its kind of a darkhumor thing but its hilarious.  The kids are phased for only an instant then they're back in the game with as much zest as they had to begin with.

The Philosophy and Teachings of Dodgeball are represented in the behavior of the kids while playing dodgball.  It is FASCINATING.  Here are a bunch of children (humans who are not as influenced by social or cultural "rules"), ages 5-10, who in many ways display human nature at a more basic, honest and fundamental level then older people.  It is interesting to take this view of children while watching them interact with one another in dodgeball.  There are kids who steal balls from others, there are kids who do nothing but collect balls and then give them to others, there are kids who hide from everything all together, and everything in-between.  There is a little girl in my tuesday class who prefers to stand next to me and watch.  While there is all of these different approaches to dodgeball, overall excitement to participate seems to be shared amongst every kid. Little do they know it but these kids are master dodgeball yogis.
 Here is my Starter class where I was given the honor to give some of the students "English" names.  From left standing is Brenda, Noli, Michael, Jaiden, Evan, Scott, Grace, and Alica.  Sitting from left Parker, Amy, and Eric.  -k

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who's loves little tyke yoginis?!?!

A word about our past weekend...
This past weekend, with my Korean co-teacher, Erin, Kent and I headed out west of the city to do some hiking. This park and path was one of many that surround the city, and I can't imagine that any other is as well loved at this one was. However, the chances are that each place is just as populated on the weekend.

At the bottom of the hill, not to disappoint expectations of tidiness, there are forced air shooter-guns to blow the extra dust off of your shoes and pants.

Afterwards, we met Erin's friend out for some sushi!! The sushi looking rolls in the other pictures were NOT sushi... that was gimbab... THIS is sushi:

NOW... about those little tyke yoginis.
Every Monday Erin and I lead yoga for my two youngest kindergarden classes. I have been so excited to see how much they focus. We sit and meditate... 

Then we stretch and massage our heads singing "mass-agee, mass-agee, mass-sage-ee..." and then we get into our asanas (postures).
The first day we worked on "cat and cow" (complete with animal sounds, of course).
Yesterday we worked on "sailboat." We balanced on our bottoms and lifted our legs into the air and rowed a boat with our arms. We rowed away from dinosaurs and monters and alligators. Then we lay down for relaxation... savasana.... ahhhhh. The kids tried to be peaceful and lay on the mats, but it was contray what their excited minds and bodies tell them. Erin and I walked around and soothed them with touches to their heads and arms. 
Yes, that's our little frogger, Bella, and Tinkerbell.

Often in class I feel like I'm oppressing their wild and curious spirits, but I know that my job here is to show them another, more culturally acceptable, way to act and eventually be. One of the lessons of the day was teaching "thumbs up and thumbs down" for "good and not good behavior." Can you imagine looking at a tiny Korean person and giving them a thumbs down with a frown face for stepping out of line. I just can't do it. 

-by bear

Monday, March 14, 2011

A surprise in the post!

Today we had another great Monday... 
and it all began when we received something in the mail.
A beautifully compiled and contributed-to picture and memory book. I haven't heard the story of how this all came together but I think an incredible brother/friend, Samuel EC Dunlop, organized photos from family and friends and sent it off to us. 

A candid shot, enjoying our Family Love Book.
Thank you so much to everyone involved in making this story book for us to cherish and share with our new friends and students. 

Wham bam thank you Sam.
ohhh what a moment what a day.  it is monday.
Also it is White Day in Korea, which means women receive gifts from those who love them.  We received the goods this mornin right after i got to work and i waited till Bear was out of class to open it.  Immediately after she saw what it was she teared up so we put it away.  We have something so nice to share with our new friends.  We appreciate the time, energy and thought you put into this Sam.  the quotes you chose were as beautiful as they are meaningful. Thank you SO much.  We love you Sam and we love you FAMILY(which includes "friends").  
kent and bear

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some more Busan times

Here are images from our 9th story apt window.  
Seafood Frenzy.  $10
"Beebimbob"- Really amazing.  Its rice seaweed veggies an egg and chili sauce.  Kimchee too
Part of Busan Port - One of the biggest harbors in the world!
One of many work out zones along the trail by our apt.  There are b-ball and badminton courts, pools.  I hope the US adopts this type of public service someday.  
The seafood markets are...  shocking.  -k

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bear's Typical Day of School:

Our work weeks are regular, for the most part. I have classes from 9:50am until 5:10 or 6:40pm everyday. I begin mornings with KINDERGARDEN! Just imagine what the most cute child in the world might look like and then make him or her a little Korean child. That combination makes for a child too darling to be mentioned. 

Bella (left) and Stephanie (the other one)
The rest of Bella's outfit consists of a green tutu and green leggings.

Eddy (left) and Tinkerbell (right)
Today was Birthday Party Day and these two have March birthdays!
Tinkerbell has an older brother who is in Kent Teacher's class and whose birthday is also in March.
His name is... you guessed it! Peter Pan!! 
Each kindergarden class is 80 minutes and the curriculum is pretty set. We sing songs and run around in the small gym, we go for water breaks and the whole time I hear "Teacher! Teacher! Amanda Teacher!" Some of the kids don't know any English... so if they want to tattle on someone, I hear "Teacher! (1 minute of little child-voice Korean)," followed up by a little pouty face so cute that I want to pinch it off and hug it! I drink at least 2 cups of sugary coffee every morning to keep pace with the kids who are from 3-5 years old. 

We eat a Korean lunch, in the classrooms, with our Korean counter-part teachers, and I learn Korean. My co-teacher's English name is Erin and she gives me a little practice homework everyday. The kids get a kick out of hearing my Korean... it seems only fair that they hear me struggle with their language. Today, being that it was Birthday Party Day, was little unusual. All students and teachers went into the gym/auditorium and had a special birthday time.

We walk in and sit in lines...
Each class stood up and preformed a dance routine...
This is Brown Class... the youngest, the cutest and mine!
Kent's class... rivals in cuteness.
There was a dance off...
On the far left is Danny, the cause of at least 15 grey hairs on my head.
Each student got his or her own cake!
Jenny Teacher and me with Kevin

More about English names, if a new student comes to school without a, English name, the teacher gets to name him or her, with the parent's approval. Kent has named at least 5 kids and more kids are coming everyday!  

The rest of the classes I have throughout the day are with kids who are from 6-10 years old and each class is a different, and I'm not just talking about the curriculum. All of the teachers reading this know what I'm talking about. The combinations of personalities is so fun and wild and difficult that each 40 minutes is unlike any other. I never have more than 10 kids in any class and the besides kindergarden, nothing is longer than 40 minutes. 

Jade Teacher and Kent with Peter Pan
I cannot imagine how the teacher's in the states manage 30+ students, practically all day long. As it currently stands, I'm exhausted by the time I get home. As for the students; by the time we are seeing the afternoon, they have already had a full day of elementary school and will be taking 2 or 3 classes at SLP (our school) and then be off to extracurricular activities, like art school or tae kwon do, and then go home to do their homework at 9pm or later. AND... they have school Monday-Saturday! This is too much! So much is asked of these kids, so I try to keep that in mind as I'm asking or telling them to repeatedly sit-down. 

The hours may feel al little long, but the days are quick and the other foreign teachers warn us that the months are even faster. I know I can speak for us both when I say that this experience has already taught us so many things. I can say with some certainty that before coming to Korea I never properly celebrated a birthday party in school. SLP Yeonsan knows how to party!

-by bear