Thursday, September 07, 2006

1 week

Yesterday was such a good classes went really well, the lunch in the cafeteria was actually good, and I got to leave school a little earlier than usual because I barely had any lesson planning to do (Fridays are my lightest days, with only 4 classes and only one completely new lesson plan) . The weather here is just about perfect here now (Mom you would love it), hot and sunny but not humid during the day and much colder at night and in the early morning. After school I went for a long walk, getting myself more comfortable with the city on our side of the river. I explored this really cool outdoor market, buying grapes and just wandering around making friends (people love to try and talk to me). I located important landmarks like Pizza Hut, a bus stop, a branch of my bank, a bakery, and a Lotteria--a Korean fast food chain that I immediately went into and purchased glorious mozz sticks--called neh-chu-lal chee-juh suh-ti-kuh (natural cheese stick). You only get two, and they are not quite the real thing, but man they are delish. I went home to read and hang out with the boys and Kibeom made us all a pot of the most concentrated ramen I have ever experienced (honestly, it was like just eating a ramen flavor packet plain). After this, things went downhill a bit, as the boys' tutors showed up starting at 7:30 (in addition to school 6 days a week and private academy 6 days a week, the boys have math and English tutors who apparently come every Thursday evening. The English tutor has terrible pronunciation and the funniest voice ever). Kiyeong had not studied as hard this week as his mom wanted and he got in big trouble. We also had to wait until 9:30 to have dinner...which ended up being cow foot soup. As I was reluctant to suck on giant cow feet, my dinner was mainly rice and the weak whitish broth of the soup (unlike most soups here, which have tons of different things floating around in them, cow foot soup is just cow feet, water, and a few scallions). In my opinion it was not a particularly satisfying or balanced meal, but my host mom sure was excited and proud of it. Throughout the meal she would repeatedly grab my leg and proclaim loudly, "Oh, mashida [delicious]" every couple of minutes (this isn't totally unusual, but it is reserved for special dishes she's made).

Today I had one ehh class of mixed 3, 4, 5 in the morning, two really great fifth grade classes, and a second grade class that made me want to throw myself out a window. My fifth grade classes both loved the game I had them play today, to the point where they were speaking English INDIVIDUALLY and in loud voices. They were raising their hands and clamoring for me to pick them instead of trying desperately not to make eye contact, and whispering inaudibly when forced to speak. They were all disappointed when the game was over, even though class had gone over by almost 5 minutes. Mmm...the rewarding part of teaching.

My second graders (Think American kindergarten and first graders) were another story. I had 2 second grade classes yesterday and they were both wonderful and easy, so I was not at all prepared for Class 2-3. In the Korean educational system, students start learning English in 3rd grade. We are at the beginning of the year's second semester, so my 3rd graders have all had 1/2 a year of English, but the 2nd graders haven't had any at all. This means that the primary teacher for each 2nd grade class has to help me communicate with them. When I showed up to classroom 2-3, there was no teacher in the room (this happens sometimes with my other classes, but with the older kids I can manage without the primary teacher). I managed to keep them in their seats for about 20 minutes and then chaos just sort of took over.

Now I'm sitting at my desk in the music room and realizing that I've made it through a whole week of school. I've taught some 500 Korean children...the fifth and sixth grade ones twice. Pretty crazy.

Next week I am going to start volunteering at a program that helps North Korean refugees get ready for life in South Korea. The program is in Cheonan, so it's going to be kind of expensive to get there and back every week, but I'm really excited about it and I think it will definitely be worth the effort. I'm also possibly going to start getting some free Korean tutoring...but it looks like that might interfere with bollybally time, so it might not be an option.

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