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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bamboo!

Top: part of the bamboo forest
Middle: Katie's fan-left, my fan- right
Bottom: Thanksgiving... a little late- at this point it's a Hanukkah dinner



Well I finished out the work week with a bang! Even though management screwed up my lessons for all my new classes… I was quickly able to get it all back into order. They think they are doing us a favor by making our lesson plans but they are really just creating extra work and confusion. It's the same story, they want quantity rather than quality… when are they going to get it!

The new Kindergarten class I teach is so cute. I adore them… they remind me why I love teaching so much. Every Wednesday I teach a cooking class with them. We were talking about growing and how healthy food/diet helps you grow big and strong. I asked them how often they think they grow… I loved their responses… "well Emilie teacher, I am pretty sure I grow on Thursdays"… "yea, me too teacher but, I think I grow every Sunday afternoon… only Sundays though!" So cute… it sure is refreshing to teach little kids again". The best part about it is that their curriculum is a little more flexible in the sense that I can do more hands on things with them. My older students all have to follow a strict, structured curriculum- If I get bored then I know the kids are bored to tears. My college professors would not approve of this strict … no manipulative… no hands-on activities kind of curriculum.

I don't know if I told you this but we are not allowed to sit down while teaching… it looks better on the cameras if we are standing and walking around the whole time (moms and management are constantly watching us teach). I am certainly not a lazy teacher but I really need to sit down every now and then. It doesn't help that we have no support on our feet (can't wear shoes). Now that I have a busier schedule I am standing a lot more. After a few more weeks of doing this… my back is going to be a mess. For those of you who don't know… I had spine/ scoliosis surgery when I was 18 and I have arthritis in my lower spine. I haven't said anything to them yet but once the back pain starts setting in… that's it, I am going to have to sit a little bit while teaching (sometimes it helps the students when I am sitting with them because they don't feel so intimidated) . I don't think I deserve any special treatment but I gotta do what I gotta do… not too much to ask right?!?

So, even though management is screwing up a lot…. I guess they try and redeem themselves at times. This week they gave Laura, Ryan and I 50,000 won each. Why, you might ask… well, a few weeks ago when the three of us went to the engagement/ham for our boss, the brides father gave the ham holder envelopes of money. Well, apparently that money was supposed to be used later that evening for a celebration- a night out on the town. Since my boss was entirely too drunk, we didn't go out. He felt bad so he split up the money between the three of us and Michael. That was my groceries for the next couple weeks- thanks Seth :)

This weekend was great… especially after the homesick week I had. Friday night I went out with two of my favorites… Laura and Ryan (who did I mention are completely and utterly in love… it's very sweet). The best part about Friday night was that I finally learned how to play pool. Why on earth did I not play it till now?- it's probably one of the best games out there… other than soccer and hockey of course! We made some new Korean friends who played with us. I was pretty proud of myself.. I won a game which says a lot because Ryan is pretty good!

On Saturday I got up early and met my friend Katie at the bus station. Have I told you about Katie. She is such a nice girl.. she's 27, from Arizona, beautiful and just as sweet as she can be. We went to a town called Damyang which is about 25 minutes away from Gwangju. The town is known for it's bamboo/ beautiful bamboo forest. Katie and I decided we are a great traveling pair… she's got a great sense of direction (god knows I will always struggle with that) but, she's a little shy.. that's why i'm her other half…i've got the outgoing personality that will talk (attempt to talk/hand motion) to anyone that crosses my path. Katie is 4, almost 5 years older than me so it's like i've got my big sister with me- it's very comforting! After wandering around the tiny town of Damyang, we finally headed to the bamboo forest. WOW… it was so beautiful, i've never seen so much bamboo in my life, and it was so lush! The path was confusing as hell.. probably because we couldn't read the Korean maps haha! We came across a little village… me, being the talkative one decided to try my Korean out on a little man who was outside of his house. Turned out he spoke excellent English! He invited us inside where we took a few shots of rice wine, and watched him paint fans- this was incredible!!!! I can't even begin to describe this experience, it was spiritual, relaxing, inspiring… ahh so many emotions were running through me. He would look at each of us, as if to get some ideas/inspiration and then he could continue to paint. After he finished the first fan he told Katie it was for her then he signed her name and went on to paint one for me. For my fan, he painted the most gorgeous flower. When he was in China during the war he always saw this flower that was just so breathtaking. He said I reminded him of this flower- moran (not to be mistaken for moron). I didn't even know what to say, I was so impressed with his work and flattered by his compliment. Katie and I had goosebumps when we left there, we couldn't believe what we got to see and what we got to take home with us for free. A fan like the beautiful ones he painted would cost between 70,000 and 100,000 won in a store- WHOA! We went to one of the bamboo shops and bought traditional, bamboo fan holders. Now i've got some asian decor in my apartment.

Saturday night I rushed back to my apartment, got ready and scarfed down some dinner. I grabbed a bottle of wine and a nice ribbon at the store and headed off to a friend's house warming party. Remember my friend Jacob… I haven't brought his name up in a while. He was the one that got fired because he dates an older Korean woman (ahhh stupid reasons.. it's still beyond me why they fired him and not the stupid shlep that parents loathe). Anyway, he and his wonderful Korean girlfriend are the ones who hosted the party. It was so much fun. It reminded me of college again. I miss going to house/apartment parties so this was a nice change from downtown.

Still not done… this weekend was eventful! Laura has been wanting to do a Thanksgiving dinner for some time now. She finally found the time to do it tonight… Sunday. She went to the underground grocery store (a small grocery downtown where they have an expensive assortment of American food)… expensive meaning 5 bucks for a can of Campbell's Soup. Even though you can buy what you want there, doesn't mean we can cook it. We don't have an oven so no turkey. Instead of a turkey Laura made some delicious chicken and dumplings. This wasn't a traditional Thanksgiving, it was a do what you can with the food you've got, Korean Thanksgiving. There was Greek salad (it had feta- oh my god cheese- yum), garlic mashed potatoes, fruit salad with vanilla yogurt dressing, home made stuffing, garlic french bread, cranberry relish (I made this… mom, you would be so proud of my it tasted just like yours and everyone loved it) and wine. It was all so yummy! Three of the guys I work with have Korean girlfriends and it was great to see them enjoying some American style dishes. Hats off to chef Laura… she really out did herself!

Korean Facts/ Randomness:

-Korea is the only Asian country that uses metal chopsticks (hence the reason why I got all of you- family metal ones for Christmas) :)
- The schedule has changed so much at our school… not only is it frustrating for the teachers but the parents are so irritated by it that they have pulled their children out of the school- I don't blame them!!!
-I know I said there wasn't a lot of crime here but there is rape. The majority of rape that goes on is between old men and little girls (Korean ones).
Don't worry mom.. my Korean co-workers said they have no interest in American women!
-The holiday spirit is really starting to come out. I keep seeing more and more Christmas decor everywhere I go! Yay... a little more like home :)
-Check out my last blog... I posted a picture of what a a fire escape slide looks like

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