Thursday, April 30, 2009


A couple of days ago the elementary schoolers all went on a picnic, so a few other adults in the community and I along with Yi Sul and Moksanim my host went along with them. At first it was a bit confusing because I thought we were going in Mr. Park (he is the widowed father of the 3 year old and 5 year old)'s car, but then 3 of the women I see almost every day told me to get into their SUV. Yi Sul had not come out of the room yet so I was confused but then Yi Sul came out and explained that the women wanted to take me somewhere first. 

Apparently it was the birthday of a famous general that day, and there's a monument in my town dedicated to him, so they showed me that. There were a lot of steps to climb up, and at the top women in hanbok were lined up on both sides clapping as people arrived. 

Then we went to the picnic where they put down a large mat and we ate very typical Korean foods except we also had fried chicken. It's funny to see people use chopsticks with fried chicken, especially legs since for us it is just finger food. 

Not much else to report. I have less than 3 weeks left in Haenam. I really wish that there was a viable way for me to stay here, and there is one project available that seems interesting, but I think I would just be giving up too much to stay here including my sister's graduation and getting a job with money this summer. In the end I think it is just too much to lose, but I really wish I could stay. I definitely hope that there is a way I will be able to come back to this country. I will miss it every day. I have grown up so much here, experienced a whole new culture which I just adore, and even though its the complete opposite of America and the American culture, I have come to see that it is just as viable as ours. I really adore this country. 

Okay picture time :) 

^Che Ui age 3. She doesn't smile much and she's incredibly shy. 
^As we were driving we passed some horses! At least one thing looks the same in Korea and America :) 
^We went to an aquarium where there were some fish, but the rest of the animals were all plastic/not alive it was a really sad aquarium. 
^Che again and she is with a woman from our community who has almost become like a mother figure to her. She is also the woman I have become the closest to in the community. She speaks only about 4 words of English, but we play Sudoku together and eat many meals together. She cooks all the meals when we eat at the center. 
^Yi Sul and Che at the picnic. Che did NOT want to look up at the camera. She's pretty camera shy

Saturday, April 25, 2009

American music

At the center, I could tell that the middle schoolers were getting bored of all the English lessons/grammar lessons/etc and who could blame them? Then I had the idea to teach them about American music. Play them different popular songs that are current right now, and maybe some older ones. Introduce them to different styles of music, etc. The minute I started to talk about music, they all knew about hip-hop, and that is it. And not even current hip-hop but hip-hop from like late 90s, early 2000s such as Jay-Z. I played them lots of songs, but all they seemed interested in was when I played 2 hip-hop songs. 

It gave me the idea though to print out the lyrics to one specific song, and go through the song line by line with them to help them understand what the song means. I am finding this more difficult than I initially expected. 1) No profanities for obvious reasons 2) Easy lyrics with and easy meaning to the song. Most song lyrics are pretty....I don't know how to describe it, but pretty ambiguous 3) Up-tempo song to keep their interest 4) Not a song about love as there is 1-2 girls in the 2 classes, and they are 15 year old guys. Love songs arent something that interests them. 5) I have to like the song. This because I'm going to be playing it a lot and going over the lyrics. I wanna like what I teach :) 

I am currently going through my songs on my ipod trying to find a song. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 24, 2009

wait where did the time go?

Time is literally flying by right now, I cannot believe that I have been here for over 7 weeks. I remember when Shaina wrote in her blog that she had already been in Israel for 7 weeks, I was like wow she has been there forever, and now I'm at that point. I fly back to Boston 4 weeks from tomorrow. My host asked when I was leaving Haenam, my town, and I said i didn't know, whenever he thought my last day should be, so he said 2-3 days before my flight, which means I am in haenam less than 4 weeks! This is....crazy. 

I am having such an amazing time in Korea. There have been learning curves, and hard times, but the hard times were definitely overcome by the good times. Korea is such a wonderful country, and the people here are so welcoming and kind and warm. I knew that I would have a good time here, I felt it in my heart, but I never thought it would touch me as much as it has. Volunteering is such a huge part of who I am, it is what I love to do and has been since I started volunteering when I was 12. I wish that everyone would get an opportunity to have an experience like this, to learn about a new culture, to meet new people who might be completely different than you. 

I will definitely be recommending my experience to everyone. Volunteers for peace ( was very helpful in giving me all the information that I needed, and setting me up quickly with the organization that i wanted to volunteer with. Then there is the IWO (International Workcamp Organization). From the very first day I started to e-mail them, they answered all of my questions fully and honestly. When I arrived in Korea at their office I was a little scared and nervous, but they explained to me everything i needed to know, and I felt comfortable after the meeting with where I would be staying and what I would be doing. During the hard times, they helped me to communicate with my roommate and to resolve any issues (there was only 1) that arose. 

To anyone considering volunteering in a new country, do it. It is a decision that will definitely change your life. Don't be afraid to do it alone, either. You really become more enriched in the culture by experiencing it yourself and are less likely to attach yourself to your old culture. And don't forget to take a lot of pictures and write a lot of blog entries. Not only do they help family and friends to experience what you are experiencing, but also so that you have something to look back on your journey with. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why does the weekend have to be over :( ?

Well I am finally back in Usuyeong and am pretty bummed that the weekend is over. As always, it was absolutely FANTASTIC. There is just something about Seoul for me, where I just always end up having an amazing time no matter who I am with even if I'm alone and nothing seems to bother me, and I don't know how to describe it. It's actually kinda scary just how much I love that city. Definitely my second favourite city behind Boston, and the closeness of my love for Seoul to my love for Boston is kinda scary. Alright well here is how my weekend unfolded. Just warning,  a lot happened so this will be long!

Left on the 8:50 am bus from my town to Mokpo, got in a taxi to go from the bus station to the train station (not even close to being a walkable distance, its about a 10 minute drive maybe 15), and did all this at a LIGHTNING SPEED so I could very barely catch the 10am train from Mokpo to Seoul (yongsan station) which would get me there at 2:45pm. Usually I take the 11:10 am train which gets there at like 2:20 or something but its more expensive since its faster (less stops, faster speed) and I did not have to be there at a certain time I go onto the cheaper train. 
Eventually got to the hotel where I would be staying at, and got the key to the room I was staying in (my sister's friend Jessica who she went to grad school with was still at work). I was tired, but then when I was looking at my little book on Seoul, I saw that there was a giant mall not too far away from where I was that actually had an amusement park in it, so I decided that I had to go! 
The mall is called Lotte World. It even has a hotel connected to it! I swear Koreans like to just lump everything together which is quite nice. The amusement park is indoors I guess like the Mall of America although its quite hidden in the giant building, but I guess I have a kind of sixth sense for roller coasters as I pretty much just walked right to it even though there were no signs and it was really hidden. I managed to get a cheaper ticket inside the amusement park since it was after 4pm. There were a lot of little kid rides in it, and also some haunted house esque things. I went inside one which reminded me of what you would find on Halloween in New England, but not nearly as scary. In the beginning it was because there was a person in black hidden around a corner, but after that it was just lots of things behind glass jumping out when you walked by. 
Then I got on this one roller coaster which was just like a giant circle that it looped you around..first you went 1/4 way around then 1/2 then all the way around a few times. It was still fun. Finally I found the giant roller coaster and got in line for that. It was a very short line and I ended up getting to sit in the first car!!!!!!!! Only one upside down part and very quick but it was still awesome! And the picture that was taken of me ended up being AMAZING so I bought it. I took a picture of the picture with my camera so I could post it on here :) 
Went to dinner at TGIFridays (i nearly flipped when I saw it! Its one of my favourite restaurants at home and I had never seen any in Korea! Had a great strawberry banana daquiri and an okay caesar salad for dinner. 
Went back to the hotel, showered, and Jessica came back from the goodbye party at her work (their project was over and Sunday they were all headed to Hong Kong). I was in my pajamas and she told me to get dressed as we (us and another girl from her work thats Danish) were going out to get our nails done. No places ended up being open, so we ate ice cream at Coldstone Creamery and then went back to the hotel and went to sleep. 

This was a very long day! First we went to the Namsangol Korean Village (a traditional Korean village which was moved there from somewhere else in the nearby vicinity and a nice tourist attraction). We ended up being able to try on hanbok (traditional korean dress) which we took pictures of. Then we went to Seoul Tower which I had been to before so Jessica and Mette went to the top and I went to the Teddy Bear Museum. I thought it would be like a history of the teddy bear, but it ended up being in two parts, one part being a history of Korea reenacted with Teddy Bears (not the wars part with the north) and then the second part showed Seoul today with different parts of the city also reenacted with teddy bears. it was ... strange. 
We had lunch at a korean BBQ restaurant which was really good. Then we went to Dongdaemun which is a shopping area and had a lot of fun there. We ended up getting manicures there as well, and I got my nails painted this beautiful blue/green color! 
After that we went to Itaewon for dinner where once again we had Korean BBQ for dinner. It was a little bit of an overload on the BBQ but thats okay! Then we went to see this play thing called "Jump" it was a mix of martial arts and comedy. It was alright, but probably not worth the 50,000 won I paid. We were all really exhausted by the end, so we went to sleep at 10. Plus, they had an early day the next day. 

Jessica had a 10am flight, so she left around 8am. I stayed in the hotel room and we agreed i would check out as her when I left which was fine. I called my dad via skype on my ipod touch, and in the middle of our conversation I decided to turn on the TV. Flipped through the channels and saw THE RED SOX GAME. I screamed. Thank goodness Renaissance hotel has thick walls otherwise someone might think something bad happened! It was in Chinese using NESN feed. It was SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!! I was originally going to go to Everland the korea version of Disney, but with the sox game decided to forgo that! Sox game ended in a win (YAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!), and I called my mom to share the exciting news. Checked out of the hotel, and then checked into my new hotel that I would be staying at for one night. It was small, but only cost $50 a night. Then I went to the World Cup Stadium, home of the 2002 FIFA world cup (soccer). I wanted to go inside it and maybe take a tour, however all the entrances were gated so that didn't happen. Went inside the museum that was there and was pretty disappointed, but it was only 1,000 won so not a bad deal. Had some cool memorabilia, but I really wanted to see the inside. 
After that went to Children's Grand Park which at first I thought was just the adult version, but turns out its two different places. Lots of people my age were actually at Children's grand park so it was alright I did not feel that out of place. It was very large and no signs telling you where to go. There were lots of areas for families to bring picnics which I thought was very cool since in America you can't bring in your own food to a place like that. Entrance is also free!! Went to the zoo section, and was pretty sad by what I saw. The cages that the monkeys/chimps/etc were in were really small, and just had cement and some weird things to climb. There were doors which I saw led to an outside enclosure with some grass, but the doors were closed and the animals were sectioned off from each other. They looked pretty sad and I was depressed for them. 
I went to the amusement park part, and had trouble figuring out how to pay for the rides as there was no english anywhere, but figured out you had to buy a ticket for 4,000 won for each ride. I went on one roller coaster which was fun. Then went to dinner at Itaewon where I had a chicken caesar salad which was AMAZING!!!!! 
Went to the Coex mall today which is a giant underground mall located at one of the subway stations. Was raining all day so I didn't want to do anything outside. Went to a bookstore with a large english language section and spent a lot of time between buying books for myself and seeing if there was something I wanted to buy to help teach English (didnt end up buying anything for the english classes). Then it was time to come back to Usuyeong and thats where I'm at now!

^Taxi cab driver in Seoul had 2 gps! This is not normal...only 1 is. But then any time he went even teh slightest bit over the speed limit a giant circle with the speed limit would flash and make a noise. It was annoying! Here's a picture of the speed limit flashing. 
^2 lions at the zoo. 
^One of the cages in the zoo. So sad!!
^Red sox game on tv in Chinese!!!

^My pretty nails..also still wearing my ring from my last trip to Seoul of course. Still in love with it!
^The bears at the teddy bear museum.
^Jessica, Mette, Me wearing Hanbok!

^ Oops its sideways but look at my smile!


Apparently I was watching on a Japanese network!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

bummed :(

Well I just found out at lunch that the principal called and Yi Sul and I cannot go on the field trip. I am a little mad too because Yi Sul told me that we were allowed to go, and I made sure with her before i booked my hotel room. This is going to be a much more expensive weekend than i anticipated now that I have to pay for the hotel room and the train both ways (i would have been able to travel by bus with them back to our town). 

Ugh. Not a happy camper right now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

it's a go!

I am officially going to be in Seoul from Friday early until Wednesday! All I have to pay for is my hotel room Sunday night, and then the ticket to the amusement park which is 35,000 won, or $26. I just received my monthly "pocket money" of 100,000 which is going to be used on this trip. 

I am currently trying to find a hotel to stay at. There are a lot of hotels and some pretty cheap ones, but I'm trying to find the best value that is in Seoul (lots of hotels in Seoul!). unfortunately is not working for me as i was trying to see if i could find one with a aaa rate. still working on that right now. 

But I am very excited to be in Seoul for so long! American food here I come! :) 

edit: forgot to mention...for lunch we went to this place and had beef!!! There were some cool statues outside of the restaurant made of weird things like car parts etc. 

^Yi Sul decided to hop on one of the statue/things. 
^Apology for the faint of heart. That's how you grill in Korea...its a portable gas grill and you do it yourself.Notice how small the beef pieces are. That is very common.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

seoul trip MIGHT be longer than originally thought...

Originally I thought that I would be staying in Seoul until either Sunday or Monday....but it turns out it might be longer! I was asked if I wanted to go with the middle school on a field trip Monday through Wednesday, but i was never told where it was even by those who knew i was going to seoul, and since i didnt know if i was coming back sunday or monday, i said no i couldnt do it because i thought it would be too much to go to seoul and then the next day go on another trip. 

turns out this "field trip" is actually going to Seoul! I'm going to talk to the principal of the middle school tomorrow and see if I can still go and just meet them in Seoul. I also have to find out if indeed I can, if I will have a place to sleep provided or if i need to stay in a hotel for those nights because if i need a hotel room, then i might not be able to do it just because of finances.

Oh and did I mention that one day of the trip is to an amusement park? Yeah. I really want to go :) :) :) 

Monday, April 13, 2009

this coming weekend

This coming weekend I am going to Seoul again! My sister's friend Jessica who is in Seoul for work invited me last time I was there to come join her this coming weekend and stay in her hotel room since her husband is gone and see the cherry blossom festival that is happening. I will be leaving Friday, and and staying with her through Sunday morning when she has a flight back to Denmark. I will either go back to Haenam Sunday or Monday (if i stayed until monday, i would stay at the youth hostel that I am fond of) I have not decided yet. 

Today for some reason there is no school at the middle school, so I do not have to teach that class, making today be a really easy day complete with only one class which is a good thing because I could NOT fall asleep last night. There was a mosquito in the room and I heard its buzzing in my ear at one point. Mosquitoes absolutely adore me, so I was convinced that it would bite me, and I guess that nervousness converted into not being able to sleep. 

Oh..Easter in Korea. Went to 2 different church services, one at the church right next to where I live, and the other at the middle school where all the churches from the town got together for one big service. No easter egg hunts or anything festive. It's more about the religion part of it here. I asked about eggs to Yi Sul who said that yes sometimes they do make eggs we just didn't eat any today. No easter egg hunts in Korea. Poor kids. 

There was a lot of singing that was quite pretty at the second service. Then towards the end the different pastors/whatever of the churches spoke/gave a sermon I guess. A couple of them were practically screaming into the microphone. It hurt my ears but nobody else seemed to care. A lot of the women were wearing white hanbok which is a traditional Korean dress and is quite stunning. They wear them on special holidays...I guess something about Easter means that its white...but other hanbok i have seen are quite colourful and beautiful. There are also special shoes that they wear with the hanbok. I was going to try to take a picture of a woman wearing it, but Yi Sul wasn't around to translate and I felt awkward just taking a picture. Maybe I'll get to take another picture of hanbok. I think at one point they are going to have me wear it!

If you want a big surprise, watch this clip.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Okay so things have been going really well lately, to which I am extremely happy. As much as Yi Sul might not like the arrangement, the deal has ended the fighting between us and we are now on speaking/laughing terms. 

Today, the Korean volunteer who was paired up with Matias came to visit and is staying until tomorrow. His english is really good. His accent is better than most Koreans, and I was trying to figure out if maybe he studied in another country, but he told me that he has never been outside of the country. It turns out his english teacher in college is American. I think that this has really helped him to speak better English. 

We went into Mokpo today and went shopping at both the Lotte (the giant target/supermarket thing I have talked about before) and this smaller grocery store which is like a tiny Costco (its wholesale). We came back at like 4pm, and then at 6:15 Yi Sul came to get me to tell me that we were all going out to dinner and then told me that Matias' partner was here (nobody had told me he was coming until that point!). 10 of us including some kids from the community went to dinner, and I got to talk to Sancap (thats how it sounds like you pronounce his name..not sure on the spelling though) which was really nice. He seems to understand the cultural differences more, and understand how it can be really hard for those of us foreigners to come to the "real Korea" as he puts it. It is definitely a struggle, but it has been a lot of fun so far and I would not trade this experience for anything. 

:) i hope it works. but if not... go to and type in Haenam, Korea. Wow I love life!!!

^Yi Sul and I taken tonight at dinner. No, I don't always wear this shirt contrary to how it seems! I just happen to be wearing the same shirt twice when photos of me were taken lol.
^Samonim, and her daughter Unah. Unah goes to a private high school so I only see her briefly on weekends.
^Host's youngest son Han-bin on the left, and Soncap on the right.
^Street in Mokpo. 

^This is the ENTIRE section of pasta that they had in the grocery store. Thats it. Granted I was happy they had real pasta instead of the "japanese noodles" but still. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

what great weather!

To anyone even considering visiting Korea (not saying while im here...just in general) make sure you do it in late march - april. the weather is absolutely spectacular. It has not really rained here... maybe twice and both were extremely inconsequential. Even when its semi-cloudy here, the sun is still shining and you can feel the warmth. I am sitting in my room in a t-shirt and my jeans and was walking around completely comfortable. Granted, everyone else thinks im crazy...but I don't think they will be wearing t-shirts until its 80 degrees out, and even that is a question. It is probably in the mid 60s here....and the sun is shining down so it feels even warmer. Granted, i wouldnt walk around outside in just the t-shirt all day, but for just going outside to go between places, its perfect. 

i know, i know what you're going to say... im a hot box i always have been...however im not even a little chilly. sometimes i'll be in a t-shirt and be a little chilly but thats it...but its not even like that here. its just plain old nice. 

not much happening. my kids are really getting into baseball. i will see them play baseball outside even not while in class...and using the terms i taught them!! I also had a really amazing moment, where the father of the 5 year old that i teach told everyone around how much his son loves my class and is always trying to speak to him in english with what little i've taught them, and how interested he is in english now and loves going to class.

I really am seeing improvement in all of the kids. I remember in the first week I was here trying to get the middle schoolers to talk in english and say ANYTHING that they knew, and only having one of the kids be able to say anything... and now i can have little conversations with pretty much all of them. its truly remarkable. 


Monday, April 6, 2009

no biking today :(

No biking today unfortunately. We went out for lunch today, and we had pork! Yes, i know, i know, at home I don't eat pork, but it was one of the concessions I had to make regarding coming to Korea since they eat a lot of it, and i can stand it more than fish. Anyways it was done BBQ style and was really good. We had "salad" which i was excited for, until i tasted a bit and I almost died. It had a LOT of wasabi sauce on it. So much for that! 

Oh and before lunch when we gathered in our hosts house, they told me that my package came! THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!!!!!!! They gave me goodies that i love!!! They sent some swedish fish, goldfish, ritz bits crackers (Cheese!), chocolate covered matzah, and ANNIES MAC AND CHEESE the kind where you just put it into a bowl and put in boiling water the instant kind. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! I couldn't stop smiling all the way to lunch. 

Oh and then during lunch our host asked if we ate pork intestine in the states. Yeah turns out thats what we were eating. It was giant strips of it that we put onto the gas-bbq thing. It was good though....but very fatty so stripping off all the fat was difficult. 

After lunch we went across Jindo bridge (the bridge i posted pictures of) and to some scenic sites. I was disappointed I didn't bring my camera as we saw some truly beautiful places. 

When we go back I asked to speak to the host, during which time I told him the basics of the argument between my roommate and I, and then he sat us both down to come up with some rules. I am REALLLLY happy with these new rules. After 10pm, no noise/no lights are allowed to be on. This means she cannot study in the room after 10pm. Also means i cannot use the computer, however that is okay wtih me as usually by that time I am asleep. If need be, I can just use my ipod touch! She had to give me drawer space since she used up both drawers, and on top of the little table she had to move over her stuff to give me space on that counter as well. I had to neaten up my space, but that was fine as I actually had places to put my stuff. 

Oh and I don't have to wear headphones before 10pm. I will sometimes, but I am allowed to also play it softly if I want. I am really happy with these new rules, and I can tell that Yi Sul is not, but it is a fair compromise. I think she is just used to getting everything the way she wants, so she is not used to compromise. Compromise for her is the other person doing exactly as she wants. 

Okay almost time for me to go to the middle school. 


Sunday, April 5, 2009


As all of you know, last year I went biking pretty much every day and absolutely adored it until I fell off my bike and sustained nerve damage along with I guess an initial separated shoulder thus ending my biking for the fall of 2008. When I came here to Haenam, my shoulder was completely healed, and I knew that our hosts had a bike i could borrow, so I decided to make use of it and finally yesterday started biking again. It feels so great! I went yesterday and brought my camera but forgot the memory card in the card reader. I went back today and took some pictures of my town and the place I went biking to. It's not a great day today, the clouds are low and you can't see that far, but I still managed some pretty cool photographs. At least it will give you more of an idea of where I live! Oh and in about 45 minutes I will be going somewhere with my hosts to see cherry blossoms!!! I can't wait. 

^The van that takes us everywhere! Apparently there is a possibility of 11 seats but usually it just has 8. 
^The dogs that guard the base of the driveway. They are not ours. I have never seen them out of the cages which is really sad. The one on the right growls and barks whenever anyone walks by. Not very friendly. There is a baby dog in the left cage that I have never seen there before! It's really cute.
^One of the streets in my town. 
^Me! Hello. Not interesting background and sorry for the hair... I was biking after all :) (well not at that moment but you know)

^Pretty much like the main street in my town. Has lots of little shops where you can pretty much buy what you need to of the essentials. Anything else you go to Mokpo for. 
^Another street in my town.
^Jindo bridge! It's really beautiful when the sun is out and its a nice day.
^View of my town from across the water.
^taken while biking but its just the shore line.

So we went to this beautiful, peaceful area about 45 minutes away from my little town. There is a famous temple there and very traditional Korean architecture. Also lots of cherry blossoms and beautiful scenery. It was quite magnificent! And a warm day too. I managed to be in just a t-shirt and jeans the entire time and was fine!
^So pretty!
^L to R, Samonim, Moksanim's mother, Moksanim (aka my hosts and host's mother who also lives in the house.
^L to R: Me (duh), Yi Sul, Samonim, and one of my elementary school kids' mother who also does all the cooking when we eat in the center. She is a sweet woman. 
^This picture and the next one were taken to explain the macro setting on my camera to Moksanim, but the pictures turned out amazing so im posting them! This one the focus is on the near blossom.

^Same exact place, but without the macro setting on, meaning the camera focused on the ones in the back. Cool huh?!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

pipe dreams

I had a pipe dream today that I could get a Korean player preferably from the MLB to come talk to the kids about baseball here in Haenam. The kids love baseball and have a lot of fun playing it, unfortunately the only player that they know is Chan Ho Park. Granted, its not like they have a ton of choices in the matter, there are not that many Korean players that have made it to the MLB. That got me to thinking about a former MLB player by the name of Byung-Hyun Kim. Please don't laugh. I know. But he played with the Red Sox in 2003 and 2004. He is currently not on any baseball team. He is from Gwangju, Korea which is REALLY close to Haenam. I think it would be great to get him to come here and talk to them, but I have no idea where to even start to get things rolling. 

For now, it's just a pipe dream of mine. But i will hold onto hope that i can make this happen for the kids. 


Thursday, April 2, 2009

intimacy in Korea

Something that has really caught me off guard in Korea is intimacy not being a way of life. My first week in Haenam, Matias the other volunteer that was here told that that if 2 of the kids started dating, they coould not tell anyone in the community, could not hold hands anywhere, could definitely not kiss, and in order to do any of those things would have to go to Mokpo or even better Seoul where it is more accepted. 

This caught me off guard at first, and then I started looking around at everyone to see if I could see any signs of intimacy and the answer kind of shocked me. I am now a month into my stay in Korea (crazy!! time is really flying) and even though the community I am in is really close, I still cannot tell who is married to who besides for my hosts, and I also cannot tell for the most part who are siblings, who is who's child, etc. The kids not being able to be intimate with each other in public also extends to married couples. 

Last weekend I was in Seoul and met Yi Sul (my roommate)'s parents. As we were leaving, I noticed that her mom was cooking and her dad was sitting in a chair across the room as we said goodbye. She did not hug either one of them. I asked her about it afterwards, and she said that she never hugs her parents. I then asked if she said "I love you" to them to which she said "of course." My response was "well if you asked me if I hugged my parents when I left, I would have said of course" so nothing is an of course between the two cultures. In America, hugging is a big part of the culture. I hug my parents, sister, relatives, and friends all the time, especially if I have not seen them in a while or will not be seeing them. Yi Sul will not be seeing her parents for at least 2 months, and yet there was no hugging in her goodbye or a kiss or anything. Parents in Korea do not show their affection in that way. 

Kids here are also far more independent than at home. It could be the fact that I live in a community where the kids can hang out together and run around outside and inside, but the parents don't seem to care where their kids are at, who they are with, where they are going, etc. When the kids are outside playing, there is never an adult watching over them. This includes the little 5 year old that I have grown to be really fond of. 

I think of everyone, I feel the worst for him. His name is Chan, and he has an adorable little sister that is around 3 years old. Everyone always pays lots of attention to his little sister. Also, I forgot to mention that their mother died around 2-3 years ago. The three of them live together in a small place that is attached to the building that I live and teach in. Everyone is always playing with his sister, talking to his sister, playing with his sister, and nobody pays him attention at all. He is vibrant and full of life and love, and always smiling. I sometimes see him playing with another boy that is probably 6-7, but that is it. Usually he is just sitting alone playing by himself. 

It's truly amazing just how different the two cultures are, especially living in the far south of Korea like I do. It's like a whole different world where all the rules have changed. 


^ The washing machine! It's in a bathroom downstairs and only has cold water available. 
^ The classroom that I teach in. To the right off screen is a whiteboard on wheels that i use to teach. 
^ Three of my low level elementary school kids! On the right is Chan the boy whose mother died. In the middle is San-been the youngest child of my hosts. To the left is Kim Chi-In. They all bought some snacks and combined them together last night to have as a late night snack. 
^ One of my elementary school kids last night when I taught my smaller class baseball. At first I taught them some stuff using the whiteboard, and then I decided to play a makeshift game of baseball. We used a scrunched up paper cup as the baseball, and a tv remote as the bat. We used chairs as the bases and it was a ton of fun!!!
^ She for some reason loves to do an aloha dance pretending like shes from Hawaii. None of the volunteers that i know of have been from Hawaii.... but whatever!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I realized pretty much from the first day of teaching that I would need to keep a detailed account of what I was doing in each class so I could keep track of them. I started to do lesson plans from probably the second week which has helped me a lot. A few people have asked me about the classes and what I am teaching, so here is pretty much a detailed account of each. 

LOW LEVEL ELEMENTARY (age 5-9) - Started off by teaching them the game of go fish. They LOVE go fish. I started with this because it taught them "do you have a ______" and then answering yes/no. After the second time playing, I made them say "yes i do have a ___" or "no I do not have a _____" because it is important to make sentences. The third time we played, i taught them what "pairs" were, and at the end of the game, they had to count up how many pairs they had, and tell me "I have ____ pairs" which went well. They want to play go fish every class. 
After go fish, i continued with the theme of "do you have a" and taught them clothing items. This ranged from pants to shirt/t-shirt, socks, shoes, hat, gloves, ring, necklace, etc etc etc. I asked them "do you have a _____" and they answered. Then they paired up and asked each other. From there, I taught them colors, most of which they knew. That enabled them to ask each other "do you have a blue hat" which went well. We spent quite a bit of time on this until they didn't have to look at the board anymore to remember the terms and colors. 
Then I introduced them to hangman, which they also enjoyed. They knew the alphabet (including the alphabet song), but weren't that great at pronouncing some of them, so we went over the alphabet and how to say the letters. Hangman is a great way to review terms. Usually I start off easy and write the terms on the board I will use. At first, only 1 kid understood the concept of seeing how many letters for the hangman and if a letter guessed correctly, then he always knew what the word was. Just yesterday we played hangman, and they all actually understood this. Usually at the end I erase the words and make them play again, and its really more of a guessing game although one kid (the same one that understood it earlier) is sometimes able to figure it out. Who is this kid you ask? He is the 5 year old. He amazes me with his abilities. 
Next, we covered shapes (square, circle, triangle, star, diamond, heart) which they learned quickly. Then we started on weather "it is raining, it is snowing, it is sunny, it is cloudy" which they are good at. I also taught them tree, grass, sun, cloud, flower which they also know well. 
Next I started to teach them time, and they actually knew "o'clock" but didnt know if its 5:30 that you dont need to say o'clock, but they got that quickly. 
Yesterday, i tried to get a bit harder and teach them some simple commands like raise your hand, but this was just way over their head. I wanted to try to play Simon Says with them, but I think they are too young, so i will try this with the upper elementary class. 
Coming up, i am going to go to seasons, and then have them say what they wear in each season. Also work on time some more, and with each time have them tell me what they do so like "it is 9 o'clock, it is time for bed" or whatnot. 
Oh and I forgot to add, I taught them basic family relationships like sister, brother, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather. 

Upper elementary (age 10-12 i think) - this is by far my favourite class. At first they were with the low level elementary, but they were just far ahead and we figured out quickly they need their own class. It is only 4 kids. We started off with family which they figured out quickly, and I added aunt, uncle, cousin, and great grandmother and great grandfather to their vocabulary. 
I then wanted to teach them about food, but I kinda scrapped this quickly because I realized I didn't know the words for most of the food that they ate, so it made it really hard to teach them much more than soup, rice, fish, chicken, etc. 
We then went to colors, which they got very quickly. I introduced them to pictionary, which they had fun with. I wrote the terms on little pieces of paper, and they had to draw the item on the board. Points went to the drawer and the person who got it correctly within 30 seconds. I hope to be able to play pictionary again because they enjoyed it, but it means coming up with terms that can be drawn. 
I then discovered a series of about 18 books which was PERFECT for this class. The books were short, and each page had one sentence on them with very basic sentences and pictures. It introduced words like "want, get, put, dream, read, downstairs, chase, push" etc etc etc. Unfortunately the books only lasted about 3 classes, and last class I reviewed all the terms which they really seem to understand. 
I then started doing some opposite words like in out big little, but they really knew all of them. I then taught them uno which they love. 
Next I think i will start to teach them commands, which i think will be more at their level, and hopefully be able to play simon says with them. 

Middle School @ the school - (age 13-16 i think)
This is my most difficult class. At the center I can just play an episode of the simpons or teach them about baseball, etc, but this is really more of an english class than a cross between american and english. 
We gave them American names in the beginning. We had them introduce themselves with "my name is" and then taught them about american ages versus korean age (in korea, when they are born they are 1 year old, and then every january 1st, their age goes up a year, so their age is usually 2 more than an americans age). 
We started easy with "I have, I want, i am" which they knew. We then went into the different parts of speech which just ended one class ago. Next up, I am going to teach them prefixes and suffixes so that they might understand big words better which they might not know, but a prefix or suffix would help them to understand. 
We went over possessives like truck's horns and a/an/the. I then taught them the different rules for plural words. Started to teach them the different tenses. 
This group is also hard because I really can't think of fun games for them to play which will help them at all. 

Suggestions would be fantastic, but remember the best student in all the classes can barely put a basic sentence together and I don't have the resources to make worksheets or anything for them.