My students are so darling.
If you click on the note, it should get big enough for you to read it. (I hope!)
at 10:25 PM
Summer classes are finally finished. What a relief! I enjoyed my classes but the schedule was exhausting. Last night we had a work party. It was nice to be gathered together for play rather than work. I enjoyed myself so very much. Many stressful days were built up inside of me. Being able to relax, to laugh, to share, to drink (too much), to dance dance dance the night away...it was just what I needed-emotionally, physically, and even culturally.
Here is a picture from dinner. The woman in the middle is my boss.
Dinner was Korean BBQ. It is tied for first place in my list of favorite Korean meals. I like how communal it is. Some of my favorite conversations have happened around a bbq table.
The final phase of the night was Noraebang (Kareoke!) Another first experience for me, and one that I liked very much! Here we are dancing the night away in our private room. Notice the disco ball, the tamborines... The thrill and the joy and the energy was invigorating!
Well, it was invigorating until I stumbled home at 4:30 in the morning. I'll spare you the details of my first hangover, and the laughs as we all joined together for another evening of work.
at 10:34 AM
"What the heck is this?", you ask?
Let me tell you.
Today I visited a cafe called Tree Shade where they provided a great little therapy treat called "Dr. Fish". In the picture above, you can see my feet in the pool of water, being nibbled by a bunch of fish. Those little boogers are eating all the dead skin off my feet. Grossly cool huh?
Here's a little video for you.
It was really cool actually. It tickled, and my friend Ami and I laughed a lot. But the little fish nibbled away for 20 minutes while we enjoyed a nice chat about life. And now our feet are nice and soft and fresh!
at 10:18 AM
[This may be a boring post. If that is the case, sorry. I'll post interesting and exciting things soon.]
Today in my literature class we were discussing the notion of conflict. What is a conflict? What happens when we experience conflict in our own life? What happens when that conflict is a global issue? And what happens when that conflict is a personal issue?
These were some pretty deep questions for my young students, especially since they were trying to answer them in English. And yet I was so impressed with their answers. We talked about the environment, we talked about the conflict of "playing computer games vs. doing homework", and we even talked about the conflict of bravery in the face of fear. My 12 year old students are pretty profound!
I'm working through some issues of conflict dealing with relationships. Some people are just so hard to love! I have a classroom full of amazing students and one little punky boy who doesn't care one bit about anything. I have a whole gang of amazing coworkers and still one who continuously annoys me. I work an amazing job but for owners who can't see clearly through the fog of their greed. How...tell me how, do I resolve this conflict?
This morning I was having a stern chat with one little boy, telling him that he needs to do his homework "or else!". And then our eyes met. Looking into his eyes, I saw him for what he really is. He's not just a punk student who is soaked with disrespect and carelessness. He's a boy, he's a young boy who would rather be riding bikes and catching frogs than sitting through 3 hours of a literature class. In that moment all my frustration melted and my stern chat turned into a pat on the back. What is my job as a teacher? How does a teacher see through the conflict?
And what about anyone else? Conflict only seems to exist when you let it be the lens through which you look. Who are we as human beings? I want to be able to see through these facades, annoying as they may be, and I want to see people for who they are--human beings. Are they greedy? Are they selfish? Are they arrogant? Are they lazy? Well...who am I? Am I arrogant sometimes? Am I lazy sometimes? Am I impatient? Am I weird? I can only hope that people exert the patience to see through my troubles. I hope people can see my heart, my true heart. And if I hope for that grace, then by golly I want to learn to exercise that grace myself.
I've always known that the greatest teachers are those who give love and attention to their students. I've always wanted to model that. I never realized however, that there always exists the unlovable students, and perhaps the greatest teachers are those who can patiently love the unlovable ones.
at 12:39 AM
Today I visited the Jongmyo Shrine here in Seoul. What exactly is a shrine you wonder? I wondered the same thing. And honestly, I still wonder a little. It's a strange concept, but here is what I learned today about the Jongmyo Shrine:
Jongmyo is the royal ancestral shrine of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) where the spirit tablets of its kings and queens are enshrined and memorial rites are observed in respect of time-old confucian tradition.
The buildings in these pictures were reconstructed in 1608 after being destroyed by Japanese troops during the Hideyoshi invasion in 1592.
History amazes me. Growing up in America somewhat limits a person's concept of history. I don't deny that America's past is powerful and meaningful, but America's stories are wrapped up in just a few hundred years. Today I stood on ground that holds a story from long long ago. These buildings are older than my country, even considering that they've been rebuilt.
As I catch these remnants of stories from ancient history, I can't help but to think about my place in the history being created today. What stories will we tell the world hundreds of years from now?
at 11:30 AM
On a recent listening/writing test, one boy confused a few of the details. The topic was Capital Puninshment. Students had to listen to the article and summarize in their own words. My student wrote:
In Conclusion, murderers need to get rid of our society.
at 12:57 AM
Had another great Saturday around Seoul. Visits included a bunch of places but I don't remember what they were called. That's how tired I am. I wasn't too tired to enjoy some delightful pineapple on a stick!
Thank you Kevin for showing me all of these spectacular places! There are surprises around every corner of this city!
at 7:22 AM