Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rainy Days

I'm a lucky guy to have such a great family
It's been raining pretty steadily the past week and some of the teachers here seem to be affected by it.  Not that anyone has lashed out at each other, but it's their general demeanor.  It's almost as if it's a perpetual Monday.  After I finished eating lunch I went down stairs to the corner market and bought a coffee and a piece of chocolate.  I just sat underneath an umbrella and relaxed.  Just watching people and cars pass me by and listening to the eb and flow of the surging summer storm.  It reminded me of an early Sunday morning show on CBS.  I believe it was called, 'Sunday Mornings with Charles Koralt'.  At the end of every show there would be a peaceful scenary; a snow covered cabin with white fluttering smoke streaming from the chimney or a close up of an early spring creek full of snow melt.  I felt like I was watching that today and it made me smile.  As a kid I always wished I could've been at those picturesque places.  Today I was.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


 Next week is my 1st week with my own class.  I've been learning the way things work around here.  The curriculum is very similar to that of back home.  The library is stocked full of books any elementary student in the States would recognize.  The children here put in extraordinary hours towards school.  Many of my kinder students have schedules that would rival that of a grad student working on their thesis!  An ordinary day has them in my class by 0930.  They get a twenty min break and thirty min lunch.  We end class at 1430 and their day is just beginning.  Many go straight to a music school where they learn various instruments.  Some of the girls are enrolled in ballet where they hone their skills for a few hours a day.  Soccer is big here and boys and girls play.  The homework that we are instructed to give them can be anywhere between 2-3hours a night.  I'm sure most of these kids don't get to bed this side of midnight.  Remember these kids are only 5-6 years old.  The older kids that come in the afternoon have all those extra curricular's, plus Korean elementary school.  No wonder the US lags behind in so many educational categories.  Oh and the government and parents are backing teachers and education.
  Ok, I promise I won't go into a political rant, I don't have the answers by any means.  Well... maybe I'll make one small comment.  I always come back to a quote I saw back in college.  It just sort of stuck in my head... it just made sense to me.
  "The only way tomorrow's problems can be solved today is by getting today's population ready to face them."  -Arthur F. Corey
  I guess the debate would be, "Well, how do you prepare them?'  By the time the debate was over or one side ran out of air I'm guessing the problems would be many.

On another note, I've been wondering how this experience is going to change me and if I'll be able to have the perspective to recognize it.  I look back on my life and analysis important personal events and most of the time it is hard for me to differentiate from who I was and who I became.  It's easy to say that I've matured in some aspects of life but the ideas, concepts, and beliefs I've held, discarded, and looked at with new eyes are harder to pinpoint.  We all continue to evolve and sometimes it happens without us even knowing it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Here are some pictures from around Bundang-Gu, Seongnam City.  There are also some photos of my co-workers and some of my students. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Korea wk 1

  Though I may be more than 5,000 miles away from all my friends and family technology shrinks the distance considerabily.  I'm not as nervous being here in a country where the majority of the people I encounter don't speak my language.  It has never ceased to amaze me that amount of communication you can do with hand jestures and body language.  Other than the language barrier and indicipherable signage, life here is pretty much the same as back in California.  When it comes down to it, we all need to eat and drink, we all laugh and cry, and we enjoy our family and friends.  Too bad we couldn't teach that very simple model to our politicians and religious leaders.
  Lesson 1:  Don't plug in your American surge protector into a convertor that is plugged into a Korean surge protector... you will overload the circuit as my friend Azzurra found out.  She blacked out her room on such an experiment and like any good friend I tried to do the same.  But as for me my surge protector switch was in the off position before I plugged it in.  Once the switch went into the on position... well we both jumped.  Only plug an American power strip into a direct wall outlet!
  Lesson 2:  Buses don't drive a circular route.  The other day Azzurra, Sammy, and I rode the 51 bus out of Bundang all the way to the end of the line, where we thought it would circle back to where we originally got on.  Not the case.  It stopped at the Bus depot miles from our rooms and without emotion the hand jesture from the Bus driver translated as, "Yea, end of the line.  It's very obvious you American's don't know where you're going. Off my bus!"  Luckily Azzurra and I were there because I think Sammy would have curled into the fetal position were she would have been found days later by someone walking their dog.  We walked about a mile or so and got a Taxi back to our general area.  It won't be the last time I get lost over here... but you're never truly lost if you can find your way back.
  I'm going to try and post on this blog once, maybe twice a week.  It won't be riddled with explicit details but more a general overview on certain aspects of my year here in Korea.  I'll start writing about the school I teach at next week, since I won't start teaching my own class for a few days.