12 June 2011

01 July 2010


I've been "studying" the World Cup the last few weeks with the after school kiddos. Our final activity was "Make Your Own Chant" for the South Korean team.

Names correlate with the student on the far left, moving right.

"K-O-R-E-A was his name-o"
Starring: Anica, Julie, Abby, Lisa (hiding)

(I can't understand a word they say)
Starring: Sarah, Gina, Emily

"Goal, Goal in the Win; South Korea in the Win"
Starring: The Boys -- David, Jason, Ron, Sam

"Korea is the Best-uh in the World-uh Cup"
Starring: Jenny, Cathy, Sally

25 June 2010

대한민국 !

World Cup madness. My life for the last 3 weeks.

Game night: hundreds of thousands of Koreans migrate to two central locations in Seoul.

Sporting red shirts, hats, face paint, and flags, they mix and mingle and drink cheap beer until the first whistle blows.

Enormous screens are placed on site, streets are shut down, and en masse (and on cue), everyone sits down to watch the game.

Only to stand up again.... GOOOAAALLL!!!

And stay standing for approximately 8 minutes, dancing and cheering and trumpeting plastic horns. I took this video at least 5 minutes AFTER the goal was scored. And the crowd stayed like this for another 10 as the game wore on...I'm just here, lost in a sea of red, trrrryin to fit in... 대한민국 !!

15 June 2010

Shouting Reds!

Soccer is in the air, and the beloved Red Devils won their first World Cup game last Saturday against Greece, 2-0.

Koreans are among the most enthusiastic people on the planet, but when it comes to soccer, the frenzy soars to new heights. The excitement is electric, a palpable energy that buzzes through the country, sending shock waves from coast to coast on game days.

I'm thrilled to be in a soccer-loving country during the World Cup. I'm thrilled to be rooting for a team that I didn't know existed 11 months ago. I'm thrilled to be dreaming with the rest of this nation, hoping beyond hope that this small country has a chance among the ranks of the big wig Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Brazilian teams.

Maybe we're a bit foolish, but if you were here, you'd get swept up into the electrifying frenzy too.

My friend scored some FIFA tickets in May, and we got to go to the last soccer match before the World Cup.

Korea vs Ecuador. Korea won, and it was EPIC.

The stadium was packed 30 min before the match started.

The famous "cheering section," on the right. They were wild, ramboncious, and enthusiastic for 90 straight minutes. They chanted and cheered and clapped and shouted and waved flags and...

...lit flares?

For 90 straight minutes.

It was insane. I felt like I was at a homecoming game on steroids.

Thought that a video might capture the electricity, especially after a goal...

... now imagine that noise channeled through a megaphone into your ear. That's how loud it was.

This same Korean team is now competing in South Africa, and when it's game time, the people gather at this stadium, pack it out, and stand for 90 minutes straight, eyes glued to the big screens, cheering and shouting and clapping and lighting flares into all hours of the night....

26 May 2010

A Korean Birthday

The day started off innocent enough.

Home made cinnamon rolls (thanks, roommate) and 7am breakfast with the early risers...

... followed by a prompt birthday greeting at school from two of my favorites, Christine and Cathy.

Gifts and greetings trickled in throughout the day.

The cards were hilarious.

"Kelly! Hi I'm Abby. Happy birthday. It's birthday card... It's so beautifal? I think I love you! Abby. "

Another favorite (from Youna) reads:

"Teacher Kelly Congratulation and Happy Birthday. And I wish this is your best birthday in Korea. Maybe because you got many gifts from students in Korean school. And teacher I am so glad that I meet beatufiul and kind teacher like you who teachess english and are cl
ass and that is you teacher Kelly. And ones again techer congratulation and Happy Birthday. And teacher I wish you and I will be a good, best partner. FROM: Youna"

By the end of the day, my desk was quite crowded.
A red wallet and yellow pencil case reading "Escape from your routine / And spread out your wings to fly away," compliments of Cathy, roses from Anica, a bicycle picture frame from Youna, and a potted cacti from Jane.

After school, my co-teacher Jennifer called me upstairs. I have a great video of a packed teachers lounge, the melodic efforts of my co-workers singing "Happy Birthday" in English, and five proud candles atop a decadent cake. Unfortunately the video won't load, but here's an "after party" picture...

Many of the teachers signed the most epic card I've received to date. Some comments include:
  • "Happy birthday to you! I think you are good teacher. I want to be with you long time. I wish you are happy and healthy in Korea."
  • "Happy birthday Kelly. You are so attractive person. I like you."
and my personal favorite...
  • "Happy Birthday to you! Always I bless you take care Body. Always I bless you take care Mind. You are happy face. I wish you well doing. I love you."
After school, they took me to dinner at an upscale Korean restaurant. I've eaten like this once before when Jennifer and I first met, and the food was equally delicious this time around.

Words will never describe what it meant to have these three women take time out of their busy lives, away from their demanding husbands and children, to have a meal with the intention of celebrating me, and the evening will forever be one of my top three favorite memories of my time in Korea.

12 May 2010

Where did April go?

It's mid-May, and I'm not sure where April went.
School is flying by; only two more months until summer! Here are my after school kiddos:

We've all gotten quite comfortable with each other.

Sometimes they like to take over and teach. We were talking about fortunes, playing a game that predicts what will happen in your life using the sentence "You will _____." I wrote several examples on the board:
  • You will win 2mil in the lotto.
  • You will play professional baseball (with LG Twins, Korean team)
  • You will marry G-dragon (famous Korean pop-star)
One of the kiddos took over my black marker with a red marker.

Clearly they do not like the LG twins, and clearly they have been misinformed about what it'd be like to be married to me...

In other news, the new English Classroom is up and running. We had an opening ceremony and everything. Here are 2 of my 3 co-teachers...

Jennifer (in white) is fluent in English, and is a total god-send. I dont actually teach with her, but we spend ample amounts of time together outside the classroom (and sometimes outside school). Mrs. Pak is in gray, and we teach 4th and 5th grade together. We've got a great system: she prepares the lesson, I teach it. Works great.

Here's the new classroom. Rough life, eh?

The giant TV is a touch-screen. It's my favorite.
And see where the "Room" is? With the bed, TV, couch, and desk?
Yeah... all my students think that's my HOME.

"Teacher home? Teacher home?" I kept getting asked the first few weeks the classroom was opened. Yes, retards. This is where I live.

01 April 2010

Pre-April snow brings.... yellow dust?

March 23
When it snows, it pours...

March 24
Yellow dust. Thanks Gobi Desert.

March 27
An afternoon in the life of a public school teacher. After school.

Notice how they shoved the entire classroom forward 10 feet to clear a space to play... but the best part: they carried that ping-pong table up FOUR flights of stairs.

March 31

Sunrise service. 4:30am.

I ventured inside...

...and called Jennifer (co-teacher). "I'm waiting for you in the back of the room," I yelled over the music. But we couldn't find each other. Apparently this was the OVERFLOW room.

THIS was the main auditorium. People arrive here around 3:30am to reserve seats. Jennifer arrives at 4am and the closest she can get is seating along the side.

I ended up going back the next morning. Jennifer called over the camera man and told him to take a picture of me... AWKWARD.


BUT WORTH IT because he posted them on her church's website, just like this, and beneath our side-by-side photos he wrote: 모전여전

Roughly translated: the daughter takes after her mother.

I love Korea. Jennifer and I laughed for a good three minutes when we saw this. I mean I know I look a little Asian, but really?