Sunday, December 30, 2012

Desk Warming: Day 1

My desk warming log:

I walk to school. A fools notion that I'd get a kick start to my resolution to be more healthy for the year 2013. My steps are slow and my breath is labored but the music buzzing into my ears keeps me going. I get to the top of the mountain and see my school, it's bright red and white covering a sharp contrast to the winter blue sky in the background. My eyes seek out any sign of life--none but a weathered old man devout to his own exercise regimen that neither snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness can keep him from accomplishing his appointed course with all speed. No cars. I’m alone, it would seem. I stomp up the steps and notice a splash of color. Oh no!!! A bird (a kind of finch, I think) has flown into the glass doors. Its helpless flutters and tweets sing a sad song to that fills soul with sorrow. I bend down to scoop up the scared creature in my gloved hands. I coo and speak softly as I gently check its little body for serious injury. I know to act quickly because its panic is strong. Cupping it close to the warmth of my body I tug my own glove off and lay it on the ground, a resting spot for the bird until it gets its bearings. I lay it lovingly on the glove as my heart beats quickly for the joy that maybe, just maybe, this little life could be saved. As I rise up to go into the office I hear another little tweet and then nothing. The stillness in the air and the absence of its little wings fluttering tell me that my actions had proved in vain. Its little life was over. Upon reflection I can’t help but see the correlation of his death to the death of this year. How fitting, and sad, that both shall end. However, I shall take heart in this little one’s life and death and continue forward into the near year. Happy New Years Eve!! May your 2013 be filled with Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Gentleness.

Monday, October 15, 2012


The other day I found out that one of my students has been the victim of bullying. Pissed me off to no end. She's one of my best students who dances to the beat of her own drum. I remember when I first met her last year and she told me that she wanted to be a UN Interpreter or a Fashion model. She thinks she could both but the stress from both jobs would ultimately be too much so she has to choose between the two.
She's a bit awkward but in an endearing way. I've always been envious of the people who seem to just KNOW who they are and don't give a fig newton what other people think.

To find out that she is being bullied because she dares to be different makes me see red. When I found out about it I wanted to hunt the girl down and demand names, class numbers, and home addresses. Sadly, there is a communication barrier so even if I did find the girls who messed with her I wouldn't be able to say anything that they'd understand.

Thankfully the school is handling it. They are having a meeting today where the bullies are told to join so they can be punished (not physically) by the entire staff. Their parents have been invited as well. Apparently there had been death threats made and it scared her enough to tell her parents.

Her entire middle school life so far has been filled with situations like this. I remember a time last year when her friends decided to make fun of her and call her nasty names. She came to me crying and it took everything in me not to want to step up and find the girls who made her cry. I get possessive and it saddens me that I felt the need to protect her from my students.

I love all of my students dearly and I just wish that they would get along and just be friendly with each other. Kids are cruel though (as are adults) so I'm not sure how this meeting will actually help my girl. In fact, it might hurt her in the long run. I just wish that uniqueness could be celebrated instead of damned. That intelligence could be awarded instead of criticized.

I guess that's asking for too damn much.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Chuseok!

Actually, it's finished, but the party is still going. This year Chuseok fell on one of the biggest festival days in Korea=The Andong Mask Dance Festival!

This entire week I've been lazy and haven't done much. I've gone to the Mask Dance and partied all night and met some pretty cool people. Since this is my third one the excitement isn't as high. I haven't taken any pictures and might not. Really, it's just like last year and the year before.
This time, however, I"m on the commercial for the Mask Dance!! Too bad I can't find it online or else I'd show you. My friend Sara and I were taken from the crowd and asked to learn one of the traditional dances. They were video taping it and it was a lot of fun. :D I feel like a movie star!!

The beautiful part about Chuseok for a foreigner are the days off. I only have to go to school on Thursday and then I'm done for the week. On Friday I get to go on a picnic to a Herb Garden with my 1st graders. I'm hoping for wonderful weather :D Every picnic for the past two years has been rainy and quite depressing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A quick one :)

Me: Why did you want to be a teacher?

Co Teacher: That is a question I ask myself sometimes when the lights are out and I am in bed.

Funny moments brought to you by...

This week I'm having my first year students act out skits about sickness and injuries. I've had a few wonderful deomonstrations but today was the best so far.

A group of girls dressed up using paper props and reinacted a car accident. One girl promptly began acting like she'd broken her neck and was demanding money from the other driver. The other driver refused so they had to call the police. The police woman took the "Injured" girl to the hospital where the doctor said she was "just fine."

Another group of girls had lots of props. One girl came in complaining of having an injury--she'd broken her arm. She even went so far as to shout when the other girl thought to take her by the hand and lead her towards the "doctor". They had drawn pictures of X-rays and even pretended to give her a shot. Amazing. Just when I thought it was over the patient's mother came in dressed in flowery print clothes, fake (paper lips), and crying "MY BABY!!" When the mom found out her daughter was going to be OK she took out her mirror and started putting on her Chanel lipstick. Hilarious!

One group had their patient die...

All in all I'm very impressed with my first year students. =)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apology letters

When my students use make up, mirrors, mp3, or their cell phone in class I take it away and won't give it back until I get an apology from them. Usually they write it themselves or have a friend help them with it. Today I got one that was totally google tranlated.

Amanda sir? I class at the time by touching the mirror Teacher cours, I'll clear that for the first time that depriving Touching momentarily forgot to boldly really worry. Am on the mirror Amanda in fhte future to avoid such a thing to keep in mind the teacher who taught me how to forget the rules and they'll remember.
To avoid his to happen again I'll ask once. Back mirror we not?

사과문 = Apology
늘 행복하시기를 = Always be happy (I hope you will be happy)
주위에있는영어찾아서적었어요 = I used English Dictionary to write this.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Funny Moments

So I've been wondering what I should be writing about in this blog. Everyone has a unique experience in Korea but the gereral theme is the same. Rather boring for someone who has lived her for two years already. So, instead I'm going to take a leaf from Bill Cosby's book and talk about some of the things my kids say or do.
Two instances readily come to mind and here they are:

My school has two buildings. The 3rd grade is in one building and the 1st and 2nd grade are in the other building.
As I was walking to class I spotted some grade three students quickly opening all of the windows in the grade 2 hallway. They were laughing quietly and acting quite suspicious. I walked over to the group and asked what they were doing. After a long debate in broken English and Phone Dictiontionaries this is how it ultimately went.
Me: What are you doing?
Student: Opening the windows. Mosquitoes outside.
Me: Having Mosquitoes outside is good, right?
Student: No, Mosquitoes inside. Bite 2nd year students.
Me:.....(This is my time to think about what I just heard. There had to be a mistake).
Seeing that I was rather confused one student bravely said:

"Biological Warfare."


Another time we were playing a BOMB game in class. A bomb game is a review game on the computer using power point. In this game randomly a "Bomb" would explode and the team would lose their points. Sometimes the teams would be forced to trade points and other times they would have to give some of their points away.
Group 3 had to give all of their points to Group 1. When it was Group 1's turn they had the question "What do you THINK of this game." The usual response would include "I think this game is...." or "I feel this game is...." or "In my opinion this game is...."
Of course, every once in a while you get a wise response and this class did not disappoint. After a very short time one student looked at group 3 and said, "I think this like life." Her smile was a little triumphant so I think she liked that she was on the winning side of life at the moment. My co-teacher and I laughed for a while. So refreshing :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Declaration of Love

My boyfriend of 8 months and I haven't had the best run of things. We come from different cultures and many times miscommunication leads to hurt feelings and cold nights alone.

I've personally tried my best to make sure that things run smoothly. I've been cleaning house, making dinner, greeting him how he likes to be greeted when he comes home from work. I know I'm moody and as my way of saying "Thanks for being so patient" I try to make his life easier by easing some of the stress of coming home to a messy apt can bring.

I've even started to cook some of his favorite foods. It has been a trial for me but I push through it.

I'm not perfect. I'm really moody some times and lately I haven't been very happy. I'm tired all the time and can't hold two thought together. I went to the doctor to have some blood tests done and everything came out normal. I can only assume that I'm depressed again. I know if I can just get outside and exercising again I'll feel better. I just don't have the ENERGY for it. I'm in a bad place.

Previous arguments that we've had were about his insensitivity concerning my weight. I'm a big girl. I'm very sensitive about my weight. He has his own insecurities that I try VERY hard not to mention in public or to him. That includes changing my acutal language and slang. It has been difficult but out of respect for him I've made this sacrifice. In the long run what are a few missing words when it comes to love?

From previous relationships I've found that I'm the one that clings and tries to hold on to something that isn't there. This guy is different. It has only been a couple of weeks that I feel like he's changed his attitude towards me. I know it is because of my weight. I know it. This morning he proved it.

It is my fault for being so sensitive but I can't cry over it anymore. He made a tasteless joke about the suspension of his car on my side being different than his...because of the weight. My side is lower than his.

I want to end this. I'm so tired. I'm not happy with myself so how can I be expected to love and be happy with someone else?

After an argument the other day I asked him to prove to me that he loved me. He has apologized for what he said but was just hurtful. I had asked him to prove to me that he loved me and instead he bared my insecurity and laughed at it.

I want to end this...but I love him. Now I have to ask myself this: Would I rather be lonely than unhappy?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I deserve better

What do you do when you reach that point in your life to do you realize that you deserve better? What if these feelings you have developed are towards a friendship that has been strong for the past 10 years? Holy crap; ten years is shooting low. How about 16 years?

Or a friendship that was going strong but now is starting to fade. The time was short and the pain is more superficial than anything but the pain is still intense.

Or maybe I’m just a jealous person in need of attention when I’m feeling down. My boyfriend wants to fix everything so he tells me he doesn’t like my friend. Well, that doesn’t help and I tell him that. So he changes tactics and says “talk to her.”

“Talk to her.”

Sounds easy but it will be so difficult. When it comes to verbal exchanges with friends I tend to back down and just say “My fault, I misunderstood. I was stupid for thinking that. I’m sorry.” I never hold my ground and then we slip back to what we were. My friend going through her life with little cares, with a huge group of people willing to listen to her and help her through all of life’s difficulties while the accuser is left to be there when she thinks about her.

I gave up being the friend in High School that craved her attention and in fact I even became a little bitter towards her because of it. I forgave her and moved on when I realized I could have my own happy life without her influence on it. However, now we’re back in the same city and it feels like High School all over again. But this time I’m not the wall flower but the butterfly going out and meeting people every weekend. I used to invite her but messages and phone calls were left unanswered. She told me she doesn’t like going to that side of town. So I stopped inviting her.

God it feels like High School again. Except now I know I deserve better.

Can two old friends continue a relationship where one was the dominant and the other the submissive in the past but now they can be on equal ground?

Can I handle any hurt feelings? Who will cry first? Will she care? Will she even answer my message?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Working on the video

This is my first video project EVER that actually needs to be finished. I can't wait to see the finished project. Today I stayed after school for a couple of hours...I must have really looked DILIGENT!!

As soon as it is finished I'll try to see if I can upload it here :) Wouldn't that be neat?

Anyways, life in Andong has been pretty exciting lately. We have a HomePlus!! For those of you who have no idea what that it is...picture a Walmart. A Three Story Super Walmart. Heaven. I'll still buy my veggies and fruits at the market to save money and stress but I can't help but fall in love with the idea of having a huge super mart within walking distance.

I don't have a lot to show right now...I'm sorry. I do want to show some before and after pictures of our down town. Right now it's ripped to shreds! As a part of the deal to allow HomePlus to open up shop in our city they had to promise to beautify the down town area. I'm so freaking excited. Waterfalls, a place to eat food outside, and just plain ol' beauty. I just hope no one drowns or messes up the pretty water.

I finally went to Hahoe village. I went with some amazing people who always tend to get me out of the house and out into the real world to get some culture in me :) The Scenery was I'll let my pictures do the talking :)

What do you see in this picture? Hahaha. Now that's what I call Culture!!

Finally I have the video that I made. I got some positive feedback and some the next one will be better <3 
If it doesn't work I have the video uploaded on youtube :) Please leave a comment if you liked it or not :)

Thanks a lot!!

No joke...6th time

I've tried updating this thing six times. SIX TIMES. So now all I'm going to do is give bullet points:

1. I went to Hahoe Village
2. I made the video for my Saturday Camp
3. I have another camp this weekend.
4. Korea is beautiful

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yes, it has been a year later. My bad. I promise to try to update you more often. Lately I've had a lot more to say about what is going on around me. Stories are just as funny and I think that sometimes a lot of people could use a laugh.

Teaching at Andong Girls' Middle School is full of that for sure!! My first years are darlings but so were my 2nd years last year. What the heck happened? Oh yeah. Puberty. The struggle to be popular. Make up. Boys. Damnit. I can't compete.

Or can I?

This year I'm on fire. I've revamped my lessons. Kicked out the ones that didn't work and replaced them with new and improved ones.

My current lesson plan is all about loving oneself and showing compassion to others.

Why would I construct this lesson? What purpose do I have in making these girls love themselves and others? If you really need to ask that question then you need to seek help. You won't find it here.

Girls at this age are so impressionable about their self worth. In Korea it is 100 times worse. In the past two months two girls have killed themselves. One because of bullying and the other because of the pressure her parents (and teachers) put on her to be the PERFECT student. Both of them broke. They felt they didn't fit in and never would.

It breaks my heart thinking that this is a SOLUTION to a problem. It isn't.

A friend of mine once said, "More people will die of suicide in Korea than they will of car accidents" If you've seen these people drive you would be as shocked as I was.

So, I'm going to make a difference. I want my girls to feel loved, beautiful, special, and awesome. I want them to take those feelings of self worth and respect and shower the world with it. Bullying is NOT an option in my class. Mirrors are banned. Brushes and make up are banned. We are female and we are beautiful Just the Way We Are.

Side note: Make up, mirrors, brushes, etc. are not evil or in anyway horrible inventions. I just don't want them in my classroom. They are a distraction and take away from class time. Not to mention the implication that a girl needs to be 100% all the time. *sigh*

So with my students I'm taking away their sight, hearing, taste, and Touch. Yup. Interesting lesson. I will blind fold them and make them walk around the classroom. I'll put plugs in their ears and make them translate what is being said to them. Basically I'm going to take things away from them that they take for granted--and then I'm going to teach them how to cope. Hopefully this will steer them in the right direction. To think compassionately about those around them who struggle every day with being "different". To offer help and protection against the bully's of the world.

I hope it works. I'm going to be using songs and sign language. If I can get the videos posted on this blog I'll try to show the end project and if the message sunk in or not.

Here's hoping!!