Sunday, March 14, 2010

i know i know i know i know.... i’m terrible.

I started writing this in February:

So, once again.... it’s been a while. I’m at my computer every night e-mailing, skyping, or facebooking but I can never seem to make myself really sit down and write about my experiences. But I’d say it’s about time for an update.

School is going well, and I was recently observed by my branch manager this past week and I got some helpful feedback. I’m still having a bit of a hard time training myself NOT to give students individual attention. I often stop at a students desk and spend 45 seconds or so explaining how to construct a certain sentence but the curriculum here prefers me to teach to the whole class at all times. I’m suppose to have each student answer a question or two, and then have the entire class repeat after him or her... but it’s still a routine I need to get used to. I guess it’s one thing I miss about the education system back home. I feel like the students here don’t get as much individual attention as they do at home, so it’s tough to help a student catch up if he’s falling behind the rest of the class.

Despite the new ESL teaching techniques I need to get used to, my students are great. I teach levels I3, I4, I5, I7, A5, A6, A7, and A10. the “I” levels are elementary students (I3s being around second grade up to I7s being around 5th or 6th grade.) Don’t tell, but my I4 and I7 classes are my favorite :-) I also recently started the A10 class which is a one-on-one class with a middle school girl. She’s really warming up to me, and I’m always impressed with her willingness to learn--- considering most of the other middle school students’ attitudes. “A” level students are in middle school level students and lots of them usually have plenty of energy.... they just don’t like to direct it towards learning. Typical. I can honestly say I never have a dull day at school though and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to travel and teach.

playing with photobooth in class :-)

The past few weekends, I’ve spend with Jaime which is always fun. We had the opportunity to go skiing at High 1 Mountain, which was absolutely breathtaking. It was the first weekend I was able to fall asleep before 10pm. All that fresh air and boarding was tough :-) I’d be there every weekend if I could.

Just a little view from the top...

And now for March:

Last weekend Jaime and I went to the Busan Museum of Modern Art. It was featuring Japanese art which was really interesting. I’ve only been to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC once about five years ago and I love taking pictures in Museums... I always leave feeling inspired :-) Plus it’s not often that you get to see a whole Museum focussed on Asian art.

rub my tummy for good luck :-)

This weekend Mike and I went to Yonggung Temple here in Haeundae. I still hadn’t been to a temple thinking it might be kind of touristy to visit... but I found it quite the opposite. We were maybe two of the five foreigners there. Before we went, Mike and I scrounged up a couple handfuls of coins for wishing on (why we were wasting decent cab money on wishes... I didn’t really understand until we got there...) It’s like a game. Everyone stands on this stone bridge before walking up to the temple and aims his/her coins at one of two stone bowls of water thirty yards or so away. One stone bowl is held by a Buddha-like statue, and the other bowl is placed on the back of a turtle. I got so addicted to tossing coins and came sooo close to getting a few in. I even had a couple Korean girls standing beside me making the “awww!” noise every time I came close and didn’t make it in.

After my pockets were empty we made our way up towards the temple. I was so impressed with the vibrant colors on the outside and all the intricate wood carvings decorating the buildings. After taking our shoes off, we stepped inside and settled on the floor. The doors are left open so a breeze can come in and the walls are lit with what looked like rows upon rows of candles... I was sold until a woman near the door “turned up” the candle light. However, despite the cheesy fake lighting, the inside of the temple was even more detailed than the outside. A dozen people or so (adults and children) had taken a pillow from the front of the room and started their own rhythm of prayer. Beginning in tall standing position to kneeling on the pillow and finally fully bowing until their heads met their knees. The room smelled of pine and I couldn’t help but stare at the ceiling decorated with dragons, fairies, and other mystical creatures.

We made our way all over the temple grounds and while staring out into the ocean (the Korean Strait to be exact) I felt like I was really on the other side of the world... The culture here is so different, and it was so refreshing to get out of the city where I walk past Starbucks everyday and actually remember where I am.

All the zodiac symbols lined up

My zodiac for '86: The Tiger

On our way out we looked more closely at the zodiac statues which I've always been fascinated by. In the Asian culture your zodiac symbol is suppose to tell a lot about you. Not only does it help affirm one's character but your zodiac is a guardian deity that stays close to you and is suppose to prevent evil spirits and pray for the good fortune of human beings. So all over these statues you notice offerings (money) placed on the body of the statues as a wish or prayer from a person to his/her zodiac symbol.

My dear friend Rachel from home will be joining me for a week in May and I’m so excited to show her what I’ve discovered so far. I WILL be writing again... sooner than later. promise.