Saturday, July 30, 2011

Camping All Day- The Kids

This post is tired in with the last one. I figured the last one was long enough and I'd put in a little break. How am I liking camp? As any of my closest friends can tell you, the amount I like something is directly proportionate to the amount of appreciation my person has received. If I feel the love, then I'm having a great time. Ha. Just kidding. Kinda. But, really.

The kids at camp like me. A lot. I figured all the girls would like me because I'm the only female foreigner. Easy win. As it turns out, though, all the kids like me in general. The kids tell me, the Korean co-teachers tell me, I've even been told that the office workers like the sound of my voice and want to sit in on my lessons. Clearly, I'm loving camp. It's more work and I'm much more tired at the end of the day, but I'm also motivated to try with each class. It's a strange phenomenon. The kids have some really great energy. Plus, I've been doing this teaching thing for a year now, I know what works and what doesn't. It helps. I'm not always at my best, but I can say I know how to be a good teacher. If the kids want a clown, I'll be their clown. It works for them, which works for me. And apparently, I'm doing it right.

Trying hard not to look phallic.
On Friday, we had Market Day, just like during Winter Camp. We had a nice fruit selection and the kids got to run amok, buying up fruit with tiny, laminated dollars. This time, sadly, there was little excess fruit for the teachers. Sigh. It's cool, though, because I was hanging out with one of the afternoon classes and-- completely unsolicited-- they started giving me their fruit. It started with a cherry or two, which they hand-fed to me. Then one kid (Romo from Cheongok), walked up and gave me a bag of blueberries. He told me he didn't like blueberries, so I should have them. Another kid gave me a golden kiwi. The I got a banana. And to top it all off, one more golden kiwi.

Maybe I should've refused the gifts of fruit. It was supposed to be a special day for the students. But I didn't ask for the fruit, they gave it freely. And I really wanted it. Do you know how expensive fruit is in Korea? Too expensive. I never even think about buying fruit here. It ain't cheap and it goes bad in a day. Of course I was going to keep the gifts of fruit! Are you kidding me?

Yeah. Camp? It's awesome.


Camping All Day- Story Time

One week of camping down, two to go. Homestretch, baby!

The logistics of my shared classes with Shane have been a little screwy and between the the of us, we may be responsible for the clearing of a small forest, but otherwise, things have been fantastic. The classes are a breeze. Except for that one time where one of my worksheets was all wrong. I did do 15 worksheets all at once at a breakneck pace, though, so there were bound to be some mistakes. Most of the time, I'm overprepared and all I have to worry about is deciding what to cut.

Did I mention the story Shane and I wrote for story time? I feel I must have, but since I don't want to go through the blogroll and check, I'll err on the side of caution. Shane and I desperately wanted to spice up our Conversation classes. We agreed to do an egregious amount of activities and games, but wanted something more still. Then we remembered The Washing Machine. Remember how I told you the sixth-grade textbooks had segments dedicated to story time? And the first four story time installments were about a washing machine, which had nothing to do with the lessons it accompanied? Shane and I figured we could top that. So, we created a tale in nine parts (to go along with the nine units of the camp books) about Shane and I turning into superheroes. It's cute. Teacher Shane and Teacher Reedy took a trip to Japan and got caught in the radioactive rain. When they came back, they had super powers! Shane could make things bigger or smaller, and Reedy could use water like magic! They become Shape Shifter and Water Woman! Then there's their nemesis, Doctor Babble, who uses his Babble Ray to change the language everyone speaks, making everyone confused, chaos ensues, and Water Woman and Shape Shifter have to stop him!

It's basically a vanity project. We collaborated on story elements, then I wrote it out, and Shane's making the corresponding powerpoints. That's where these pictures come in handy:


We're quite cool. How do the kids feel about it? They love it. And this isn't one of those times where I'm really excited about something and I pretend everyone else is, too, ignoring how they might actually feel. There's proof. The kids vocally demand the newest installments of the story. They get disappointed if there isn't time. They want to know what happens next. They ask about it after camp when they see me walking home. They can't get enough of The Amazing Adventures of the Amazing Adventurers. At first, one of the co-teachers was not so impressed. She wanted us to incorporate target language. We would have obliged, but there are three different textbooks at any given time. There's no way we could use key expressions from all three books and still maintain a cohesive story. The Washing Machine never had to hold up against this kind of scrutiny! After seeing how much the kids like it, no further complaints have been filed. Score!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Fly to the English World, One More Time

Dongcheon English Summer Camp commenced today. I think both the afternoon and morning sessions are all third and fourth-graders. While they tend to be lower level learners, they are definitely the cutest. I've got a lock on at least half the students' favorite. I'm the only female waygook sam. Score! I feel the adoration already. Some of them are even Winter Camp repeats. Today went smoothly, but it wasn't the regularly scheduled programming. Tomorrow's the first real taste of what Summer Camp will be like. I predict fairly smooth sailing. It'll be one of the least-liked classes (conversation is up against the likes of plays, songs, and games. Who are we kidding?), but it should basically run the same as what I've been doing all year, so simple enough. Except with more in-class games and activities. Teacher wants real work about as much as you do, kids.

Today, I taught some kids all about me. Then they played a review game about me. Top that off with a drawing activity, some Flip Cup and Baek Wons (Quarters, disguised by a currency exchange). Today's students were satisfied. Let's see if I can keep it up.

ASIDE: Little K-boys love calling me Reedy. The girls are won over by my simply being female. The boys like saying the strangee-sounding name, though. The tone behind a shouted "Reedy!" is notably more excited. It reminded me of the kid I made go by the English name "Romo" in my one-week camp last semester. He giggled every time I called roll. His physical presence today may also have been responsible for recalling that memory. Such a cutey.adorable. He was telling me all about D-D-O-N-G (k's are a little fascinated by poop) and also how his sister broke his Nintendo Wii. I'm happy to have boy students who wanted to talk to me again. I got "Teacher Reedy!"'d left and right. One kid even delivered my forgotten snack to the teacher's room during snack time. Cutest thing ever? Maybe.


Surrender Dorothy

I have set foot in the Cheongok Dream Center for the last time. The keys have been relinquished, and I made parting cards for Jeong-In, Jenny, and Hee Won. Too bad Suelgi wasn't around, or I'd have made one for her, too. There's not much to say about all this. I only half believe it yet. In a mere three weeks, I'll be back on US soil?  Preposterous. 

No Glitter = No Card. Fact.

And, in one final act of adorable, there's Devil. Only the sixth-graders at school got to find out firsthand that I would not be returning after Summer Vacation. A little bit I felt as if I were cheating my other students. But how could I tell the kids I never saw anymore? The only one I could contact was Devil. I sent her an e-mail to let her know I was leaving, that I'd miss her, and that I thought she was a great student who could do much with her future. Her response:

I don't want to miss you but you are family lives in U.S.A. 
Therefore you need to be take care of your parents so I think that way is good to be you.
you are a good teacher in my life too. I won't miss you.
you must always healthy, wisely and properly
good luck teacher reedy ^^.


Note: ^^ is a Korean smiley face emoticon. The "I won't miss you," confused me at first, but then I consoled myself with the knowledge that English is not her first language. Later that week, Devil stopped by during my deskwarming hours to bestow a parting gift.

I haven't cried about leaving Korea. Who knows if I will. But this marked the closest I've come to it.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

5D Rollercoaster

Preface: This is not a metaphor.

I have walked through Shinae countless times. I cannot believe that all of those times, I walked right by the 5D Rollercoaster experience on the main street. I went for the first time last night.

5D Rollercoaster is an amazing simulator that mimics a ride on a... rollercoaster. Let's see if I can hit all the D's. You get a 3D visual experience, air blasts to the face, and a bumpy, moving seat. Here's some youtube video of some dudes at the 5D:

It was awesome. I swear it's almost as fun as the real thing. And only 3,000 won. Sinan, Gunhee, and Amy get some serious points for the exposure.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good News Comes in Threes

After 3 and 1/2 deskwarming days' worth of dedicated work, I finally finished all the extra work I need to do for camp. I might not have mentioned.

Last Winter break, I had Winter Camp for three weeks at Dongcheon. Starting next week, I'll have three weeks of Summer Camp, but this time, I am obliged to do the conversation class. Shane and I had to prepare 15 2-hour lessons for the camp. We were given books out of which to teach. Each unit required a 2-hour lesson. Unfortunately for us, each unit was about 3, graphic-heavy pages long. It soon became clear that we would have to generate a lot of original material.

Final Count (for my 1/2 of the work alone):

  • 44 Powerpoint presentations
  • 19 worksheets
  • 17 games prepped
  • 9 installments of a story for story time
311 MB's of preparation. Good news? It's over. I've finished it all. Camp should run smooth as butter. I organized enough, I should know. But let's not dally. I did promise at least three good newses.

Number Two- My friend and future roommate and I have officially locked down an apartment in New York City!! E-mail me if you want details. When I get back to the States, I'll already have a place in NYC, ready and waiting!!! Hopefully, I'll be moved in no later than mid-September!!

And Number Three- Today, I leave work early to go to the Regional Pension Office. I'll file my claim for this past year's pension refund, thus concluding the last of my serious responsibilities before exiting Korea. With any luck, I will encounter no problems during this endeavor.

Yay, milestones!!!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Photo Time

Yes, I ate peanut butter during this post.

I forgot to show you the awesome card i made for my dad
 to make sure he remembers why  I'm his favorite
because I love him.

True Life: I fell into the Niagara River when I was three.
My dad saved me.

The Haeundae off-season

Pretty sure I never want to know what kind of situation
necessitates the in-stall courtesy bell.

Another Haeundae Panorama

Drawn, cut, glued, and folded by me.
This is what my after school classes atrophied into--
following the whims of Teacher Reedy.

The bloodied flip flop.
For those who were wondering.


The Last Days: Reactions

All my students now know that I will not be returning after Summer break. There have been a myriad of reactions to this news. The boys mostly wave and say "bye." A couple of them have told me not to go. The girls are universally more effected. One girl cried, tons of girls wanted hugs, there's the one girl who keeps telling me that either America no longer exists, or is, in fact, dangerous. More "Teachah, why?"s than I can count, and one girl who asked if I was going to be replaced with a handsome boy. Good for her.

I wrote my email address on the board. All the girls scribbled it down and despite their relative apathy, most of the boys wrote it, too.

It's been a hell of a ride, but I think I'll miss all of them. Even the bad ones.


I Got a Filling (Hoo Hoo)

The post title is supposed to emulate that Black Eyed Peas song. You know the one. Cool. Now that we've established that, let's move on.

I noticed last week what appeared to be a crack in one of my molars. I've been known to jaw clench, so sometimes, I just check out the status of my teeth. I figured I'd get it checked out. So, after work, I ran into a dental clinic to set up an appointment. I made the instant realization that no one there spoke any English. Awesome.

After a while, I managed to explain that I wanted my molar checked out. When can I come in? It came to me, as the woman starts pulling me into a dental chair, that she was going to go right ahead right now. Though I love immediate gratification, I wasn't prepared. I had neither cash nor my card with me. I'm used to making appointments in advance. After getting her to understand that, she told me it was okay, she was just going to look. Turns out, yes, I need a filling. Again, the lady was ready to admit me. Okayyyyy. I ran to my apartment (a 5- minute walk), grabbed my card, got some cash at the ATM (my card's got a crack in it. it still works in most places, but not all), and went in.

Weird Parts:

  • The dentist didn't check the rest of my teeth, just in case. Only looked at the one I mentioned.
  • There was no cleaning of any sort. Grabbed the drill and dug in.
  • They draped a cloth over my face, with a hole for my open mouth, during the procedure.
  • No anesthesia of any kind. It didn't hurt much, but there were some notably unpleasant moments.

Awesome Parts
  • Went in at 5:00, got back (after cash grab) at 5:20, tooth filled-in and I was out the door at 5:37. 
  • Fairly cheap, though I heard I got a raw deal.

Though the immediacy is fantastic, I feel like I'll have to go in again (probably to a different clinic) just to get a general checkup. I noticed the one cavity, but that wasn't even from pain, just the visual. I could have other cavities that I can't see in my bathroom mirror. I was surprised that a dentist would neglect checking out all the other teeth. Hmm. I guess I'll wait until my next paycheck for that, though.

Another 16th of Toe?

Welp, I got four worksheets done, printed and filled out my pension refund application forms, asked for time off next week so I can haul my butt to the pension office, and finished the final class of my final day of teaching at Cheongok Chodung Hakyo, the Dream Center. Now it's time for a little break and some blogging. Where to start?

Old friends may remember the story of how I lost 1/16th of the big toe on my right foot. J.Lo should remember this most vividly, not only for being present at the time of injury, but also for escorting my drunken, howling ass home afterward. Long story short, due to some faulty footware, I managed to scrape off a significant portion of my big toe, leaving a trail of blood behind me. Though there are no verifiable measurements on record, I calculate having lost about 1/16th of my toe that night. This week, I feared it may have happened again.

I was walking home from the bus stop, in a pair of white Havaiana flip-flops. Not only are said flip-flops the correct size and fairly new, the named brand is known for its quality product. It should also be noted that I was returning home during the late afternoon/early evening period right after work (i.e. stone-cold sober). Still, a casual misstep on Hogye's rough and uneven walkways has proven calamitous before. So it would again. It was a simple hiccup in the stride. A tiny bump. I expected to pull away with nothing more than a little scrape. But then I saw it. A bright red line curving from my toe to stark white sole below. Big toe. Left side, this time. I was still a block away from home and all I could do was speculate that my left toe must have been straining against a latent envy of my right toe's slimmer look. When I got home, I cleaned it, wrapped it, and hoped the skin flap would reattach overnight.

Of course, it didn't. After a night of painful throbbing and intense, localized heat, I realized I'd have to cut loose the useless flap. Again.

Upon re-examination, I found that a lot less of my toe had suffered than I thought. There was no scab, no excess blood on the bandage. I did have to cut away a bit of skin, but it neither bled nor hurt. Much better than last time. Essentially just a callus being torn off. Niceuh.

To my toe's efforts in copying its counterpart: Close, but no cigar.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moment of K-Pop

I tell you what, until I can get back to regular posting, here's another Korean ditty. The girls may love them some B2ST, but the boys all request this 2PM hit. Yes, the boys unabashedly love pop music. It's endearing. Check it.


Interrupting the Silence

You may be thinking that my radio silence is due to a lull in conversation topics. It's not. I actually have to do work in my offtime lately. Imagine that. Summer camp is going to be intense this year. I don't have a lot of time to discuss know, but here's a little teaser of future posts.

  • Another 16th of Toe?
  • I Got A Filling (Hoo- Hoo)
  • The Last Days: Reactions
  • Summertime Blitz

Since I'll likely slack off instead of working later today, I may even get to some of these in a few short hours. In other news, today is officially my last day of classes at my regular school. Next week will be deskwarming, wherein I shall prep my ass off for the following week's inauguration of Summer Camp.

Today's agenda looks a lot like yesterday's. I get to watch the first 30 minutes of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Three times. I watched those same 30 minutes four times yesterday. Korean dubbing. It may not be timely, but it's still a good flick. I'll be back soon.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Potent Quotables

Today was the day. I started it all. I've been putting this off for a while, not sure what kind of reactions I was going to get. But, I can't delay the inevitable forever. I told the first couple kids that I'd be leaving Korea. 

Me: "Here's my e-mail, if you want."
Linda: "I have your phone."
Me: "Yes, but I will leave Korea. No more phone."
Linda: "Teachah leave?"
Me: "Yes, in August."
Linda: "No."
Me: "I have to go home."
Linda: "No home. America– BOOM! Homeless. No go to America."

I've only told two girls so far (one of them a former Seodang student). It made me a little bit happy that they don't want to see me go. It's tough to gauge how well your students like you. I think I generally test well in the pool of Cheongok Dreamers, but I can never be certain. These girls will miss me, at least. I'll be honest, my hearstrings felt a little tug. This may be a more difficult endeavor than expected.


Sunday, July 3, 2011


I figured, since I have less than 50 days left in the Republic of Korea, I should have some kind of countdown on my blog. After tens of minutes of searching, I realized there are no custom countdown clocks available through Blogger gadgets. I can count down to the release of Shrek Forever After, but a personal event? No no. Didn't that come out a year ago? Anyway, the second best thing I could find, seeing as I can't do code, it the Blogger Event. If you look to the right, under my profile picture, you'll see the event for The Reedpocalypse. It seems to have some kind of countdown integrated, which perhaps will countdown for me. We'll see.

August 16th, 11:30 PM is when I finally reach my destination (PA). Yay!!