Last night was a difficult night for me. Friday night's class is my biggest weekly challenge. The students are lazy, careless, and they are often caught cheating. Last night I caught 3 girls cheating on the review test. For the rest of the class, no one was paying attention, no one would listen...no one cared.
I slammed my book down. I told them they were wasting my time. I told them I put hours and hours of work into preparing class lecture and if they didn't want to learn then they could just leave the room. They sat expressionless.
Really though...I'm not mad at them. It's not even their fault. The textbook is horrendous. They are young students, not mature enough for a college level textbook. The material I am given for teaching makes me an immediate failure before I even try. But no matter how I complain, rant, rebel...in the end, I still have to teach this. So it's a challenge. How can I make this boring, difficult, repulsive subject matter even the slightest bit appealing to grade 4, 5, and 6? How can I keep their attention for 3 hours and see improvement in their second language reading comprehension? How? I'm realizing these days just how much I love challenges. At the same time, I'm realizing how much pressure I let myself bear.
It's the weekend now. Today I'm going shopping and I'm going to watch the Cirque du Soleil. I'm not letting myself be stressed by the work week. This is my time. I'm not "April Teacher" on the weekends.
So to help lift my spirits, I am posting pictures of my favorite students. These students remind me why I love my job. They remind me that I am indeed changing the world one little bright amazing student at a time.
God bless these kids!
You have to notice the succession of these pictures.
First: Okay kids, smile for the camera!
Then: April Teacher makes a really funny noise!
Notice the girls on the left looking at me, "April Teacher WHAT was that?"
And the girl on the bottom left is laughing so hard.
And the boy on the far right is laughing too.
And the girl behind me with her hands over her mouth in shock:)
Finally: Oh okay, we know how to be goofy!
These kids are my sunshine here. They are amazing.
at 10:12 PM
I am a moderately picky eater. But I suppose I'd have to alter that statement depending on where I am eating. In America, I don't eat seafood, and I don't eat mushrooms. In Korea, I don't eat bugs, or live octopus, or dried squid jerky, or spongy fish cakes, or other questionable food items.
But...I did eat dog!
Yes, I did.
But it was only because Brad dared me!
And usually I'm not up for those sorts of challenges, but I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure Brad and Lynn an ideal Korean adventure. And...well, there is no way I'm eating some of the other things they serve here. This is about as adventurous as I'll go.
My friend Jane did some research and found a reputable place for our adventure. We found our way (after getting a little lost) to this basement restaurant in Nowon. The smell walking in was potent and I thought right away that this was going to be an interesting experience. I'm not sure I can even explain the smell. It was sort of sour, but like stew, and not a smell I'd ever associate with food.
We three sat around the table a little nervous for our dinner. Lynn is a vegetarian so she just laughed at us (supportively of course) and thought of really bad jokes in her head.
Boshintang is what the soup is called. It arrived bubbling hot. Brad and I ate, sort of. It was pretty gross. The meat itself was dark and stringy much like roast beef. It didn't really taste like beef though. It tasted...well...sorry, but "doggy". Like, if you close your eyes and think of your dog and how it smells when it's wet, and combine that smell with the smell of dog food, and mix that with a little ginger and garlic...that's sort of how it tasted.
We did our best to eat enough to respect the restaurant but it was a difficult task. In between laughter, I'd shove another spoonful in my mouth. The worst part about the soup were the chunks of "mysterious blubbery possible body part" things. Brad tried to eat one but couldn't get it down his throat. We were guessing it was part of the heart, or liver, or something else.
I asked a student the next day "Jimmy, what do they put in this soup?" He told me that sometimes they take the intestine, clean it out, and stuff it with potatoes, and then cook it in the stew. Woof!....I mean Bark... I mean, Barf!!!!
Well, it was an experience, and one I will remember with laughter, and one I'm so glad I was able to share with fun people. Thanks Brad for your daring suggestion. And thanks Lynn for your support.
(the owner/cook in the front. her daughter is in the back middle.)
Before we left, the owner/cook wanted to take a picture with us. She was so delighted to have us visit. I don't think they get many foreign customers. She asked us to leave a note to hang on the wall. Brad did a swell job on this artistic masterpiece!
My favorite words of the night...
"Honey, wait, there's a dog hair in your soup!"
"Oh, gross, I just burped up some dogmeat..."
After dinner, we went to a little Korean place and ate some normal and yummy Korean food. Lynn tried bibimbop, and I had some mandu. I love mandu.
at 9:33 AM
at 9:01 AM
Korean English (aka Konglish) always makes me smile.
Brad and Lynn, some friends from back home, stopped through Seoul on their 4 month Asia trip. It was such a special weekend. Rather than being a tour-guide, I was able to enjoy some new things myself, and it was a great treat to have company for a change.
We started the weekend with a hillside walk in a Shamanist community called Inwangsan.
After work, we went to Noraebang (Kareoke) with a few of my work friends.
at 9:38 AM