Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Namsangol Traditional Folk Village

To celebrate the all too brief warm spell, last Saturday my friend Jen and I went to the Namsangol Traditional Folk Village in Seoul. It was pretty small - there were only five restored houses and they didn't have much in the way of furnishing - but we were lucky enough to catch a traditional Korean wedding reenactment.

The wedding was based off traditions from the Joseon Dynasty. I'm not sure how accurate it was - right before this photo was taken, the bride-to-be whacked her future husband about the head and knocked him to the ground. I assume this was the ancient and time honored tradition of showing the man who wears the 한복 (hanbok) in the relationship. I did love seeing all the colorful hanboks.

In addition to the wedding ceremony, a dance troupe performed 부채춤 (Buchaechum), or the traditional Korean fan dance. I've wanted to see the fan dance for months now. One of the kindergarden classes performed the fan dance during the school festival back in October and, turns out, it's even more impressive when the dancers have fully developed motor control.

The weather, as I mentioned, was warm for the first time since, oh, October. (I wore short sleeves. Granted, I wore a coat OVER said short sleeves, but somewhere, there were short sleeves and that's what counts.) Seoul celebrated as well and the park was filled with children. Namsangol Traditional Folk Village had a variety of traditional games on display. The little boy in the top photo is on a Nol-Ttwigi, a traditional Korean see saw. The little girl in the second photo is just flying a kite near one of the pavilions.

The weather has sense turned cold again. (It snowed yesterday. Snowed! Granted, it was pretty pathetic snow - didn't even stick - but it's definitely wintry again.) I'm glad I had a chance to enjoy being outdoors while the warm spell lasted.

The rest of the photos are here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

[take me out to the ball game]

For those of you who weren't informed by 32 very excited sixth graders, the final for the World Baseball Classic was today. It's Korea vs. Japan, and since it was held in America, it was on during the day in Asia. My last class started during the bottom of the 7th, with Japan leading by one. Japan and Korea are long standing rivals in EVERYTHING (the number of people, of STUDENTS, who have talked to me about Dokdo and how it belongs to Korea is astounding) and Koreans are just patriotic period, so this game is a BIG DAMN DEAL.

Of course, this meant that my students felt that we should watch baseball instead of study English. They felt VERY strongly about this and spent forty minutes working baseball into every aspect of class. I have NEVER gotten them to speak this much English before. Even students who normally refuse to speak had an opinion on the game. They started by telling me about the game and how Japan was ahead by one point, but the Korean team was awesome. They expressed their condolences on results of the US vs. Japan game. They told me how the Japanese team was a bunch of dirty cheats. They made sure that I was rooting for Korea. They asked, repeatedly, if we could watch the game instead of studying prepositions. They told me one of the boys was very sick (he had a cold) and before he died, he wanted to watch some baseball. In conclusion, BASEBALL.

Even the answers to all the questions came up baseball.

Me: *points to a sentence that says My school is behind the post office.* What does this say?
Some Students: My school is behind the post office where we play baseball. BASEBALL!!
Other Students: My baseball is behind the baseball! BASEBALL!!
Yet More Students: Teacher, I love baseball. BASEBAL!!
Me: This is going to be a long class.

Alas, the game is now over and Japan won, but it made for a cute class. And can I just say that I'm so very relieved that America lost to Japan in the semi-finals. Class would have been a thousand times crazier if it had been America vs. Korea. I don't know who I would have cheered for.

Monday, March 9, 2009

[do you know the real answer? // I was born to be a dancer]

My former 6th graders have come back to visit me twice now. They burst into my office on Friday, singing Kpop songs, asking me about my favorite Korean musicians and food and whether I was dating their new English teacher, a rather nice American man who is closer to my father's age than mine. I told them we were only 친구 (friends), but they kept saying, "Miss Cait. Mr. Charles" and making hearts with their hands. Then they demanded a pizza.

It's better than one of my 5th graders though. He told me he was hungry today, and then demanded I give him money. I asked if he ate money and, after giving it some thought, said, "Teacher! Giva me some choc-o-late!"

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

a whole new school year

Today was my first full day of classes since December 19th and, to be honest, I've missed it. My kids are precious and adorable and I really do have a lot of fun with them, even if teaching the same lesson five times in a row gets a bit old. (Like, seriously, I have such a weakness for tiny Asian children. I just think they are adorable and want to squish their cheeks a lot, and I KNOW it's because of the baby sister and, while none of them actually look like her, I see traces of her in my students and it makes my heart clinch because, seriously, I love that child so much and I can't help but be endeared towards anyone who reminds me of her.)

Also, I don't know if it's just general enthusiasm because it's the beginning of a new school year or because my new co-teacher won't let the kids get away with a fraction of the crap my last co-teacher let slide, but class went better than normal today. One of my constant struggles is to get the kids of use complete sentences. Yes kids, I understand what you mean by "play computer games!", but the point of me asking "What did you do yesterday?" was to get you to use the past tense, not to actually find out what you did. Today I was able to get them to answer my questions using subject, object AND verb.

The sixth graders are studying different countries and I showed them pictures of some famous monuments.

Me: This is Buckingham Palace.
6th grader: Teacher, did you say FUCKingham?

No, kid, I did not say Fuckingham Palace, thank you very much. I'm pretty sure the queen does not live in Fuckingham Palace. Although, as Marie said, wouldn't it be better if she did

Me:*showing a picture of the White House* What is this called?
A different 6th grader: It's Obama's house.
Me: It's the White House. It's where Obama lives.
6th grader: Yes, Obama's house.