October 23, 2007

Students & Teachers

-Miss. Kim, Myself, Miss. Kim (my super-on-the-ball co-teacher), and Miss. Chae-

These teachers have become my lifeline at Ducksu Middle School. They are so wonderful to me. Their generosity even extended to waiting in line for two hours to ride a roller coaster that I later discovered only I wanted to go on.

Is it bad that I don't know their names? Worse yet I don't even remember what grade they are in!!! Anyone have suggestions for learning 700 student names?!?

The 'cool' grade 9 boys all decked out in their best.

A very funny grade 9 student. I don't know his name but I do know that his jokes and smiles make my day a little brighter.

October 21, 2007

Seoul Land

Monday was my first field trip as a Korean public school teacher. And as far as I can figure middle school kids in Korea only get two trips a year which understandably marked this as a momentous occasion for them. Our destination only added to the excitement level. Seoul Land, one of the largest amusement parks in Korea and located in the 'countryside' it was chosen as an ideal spot for our fall picnic. Needless to say there was no picnic involved.

Before getting on any rides I spotted this fantastic sign. Here is your monthly dose of Konglish. Only in Korea would they specify: No Drunken Ride, Not Allowed to Medical Sensitivity or my personal favorite, Not Allowed to Pregnant. If the Konglish isn't enough to make you laugh the great illustrations should help.

One more pondering for you before I sign out. The street, pictured above, I was told was not busy. Seeing how it was a Monday and most students were in school we had the run of the place. Judge for yourself. While it is no Myong-dong shopping on Christmas eve, I would not call this anything less than crowded.

October 13, 2007

Seoul International Fireworks Festival

Last night we took Kimchi and went down to the Han River to watch a fantastic fireworks display. There were so many people along the river that they closed down some of the bridges and opened them up to people to help with the congestion. Trev and I enjoyed the show immensely, Kimchi on the other hand spent most of his time hiding from the mobs of people who were paying more attention to him than to the fireworks.

The 63 Building aglow with the explosion of a dozen fireworks.

October 12, 2007

Larger Than Life

So we're not exactly in the movies, and we barely made the papers but we did make it onto a very large poster on the front of our district's head office. This picture was taken on our first day here in our new province of Jung-Gu. It was taken at a ceremony to welcome the foreign teachers. Look close enough and you will see me standing next to the district superintendent and the mayor. Trevor, however, was shoved to the back row because of his height.

As a point of interest, all of the foreigners in this picture are the first native English speaking teachers to ever enter, let alone teach at the school they were assigned to this year. To put it into perspective, out of my 700 students about 10 of them had seen a foreigner in person before. So walking into school, even now, a month and a half later we still feel a little like a mix between a clown and a rock star.

October 5, 2007

A Really Big Buddha

The biggest Buddha that we have seen here in Korea, this structure has enough room inside to house its worshipers and their prayer lanterns on their visit to Soraksan National Park.

October 4, 2007

Sorak Mountain

Some have referred to it as 'fairytale-ish', others compare it to the Lord of the Rings, we are fortunate enough to call it part of our home country (for now).

Sorak Mountain is widely known as the sister mountain to Geumgansan or The Diamond Mountains of North Korea, which we visited earlier this year. Just below the Korean penninsula's dividing boarder, Soraksan National Park boasts all the majesty of its North Korean counterpart just with a little less political mystery and intrigue. This is not to say that the myths, tales and history surrounding these mountains pale in comparison.

As you can see Sorak mountain (translated as snowy crags mountain) is full of ragged towering pinnacles, lush overgrown forests, stunning views, meandering brooks, and boulder scattered riverbeds.

Although some complained that the view was hampered by the mist and clouds we still caught glimpses of the amazing temple strewn valleys below, the dazzling East Sea (Sea of Japan) on the horizon and the lofty silk like waterfall on the next peak over.

-The Summit (Gwongeumseoung) Rachel, Felicia, Lisa, and Tim-

October 2, 2007

Timbits, Toonies and Loonies

Being some of the only, if not thee only, Canadians at church on Sundays we get our share of inquisitive Americans who want to know about their mysterious neighbors to the North. For some reason, good or bad, they seem to take Trevor and I as your average, everyday Canadian. Sorry to all of you fellow Canadians who are half normal.

This last trip proved to be just another Canadian lesson with good ol' Trev and Rach. On the bus while a group of Americans had Trevor cornered demanding that he talk so that they could pick apart his 'about(s)', 'out(s)', and 'eh(s)' a group of girls were learning from a fellow American, Jessica, about the humor of Timbits, Toonies and Loonies. I sat back to supervise the peer teaching and could not help but burst out laughing when the one girl exclaimed, "Wow! How do you know so much about Canada?" after Jess was done with her tri-fold spiel. What a sad world it is when Timbits, Toonies and Loonies summarize the entire international communities knowledge of our beloved country.

Great one-liners from this weekend included, "You look like you say washroom!" Hilary's remark as a measure of my so called 'Canadianess', "Stop talking to 'the Canadian" and "Look at them! They have the maple leaf plastered all over them."

We are more than happy to represent our country, even when it means changing 'I am Canadian' to 'I am THE Canadian!'

October 1, 2007

A Traffic Nightmare

Forty of us piled into a bus after church on Sunday and battled the traffic, spanning from Seoul clear across the peninsula, to reach the Sea of Japan. A week off for Chusok, Korean Thanksgiving, was a great incentive to head out and do some sightseeing and chillin' outside of the city.

Chusok is the most important holiday in Korea and as tradition demands every family must return to the husbands birthplace and pay homage to the families deceased relatives. Basically ancestor worship. As you can well imagine 22 million people leaving the city on the same evening, let alone weekend, makes for some pretty unreal traffic jams. To put it into perspective, on a normal day it would take about 4 hours to drive clear across the country, but on Chusok holiday it is not unrealistic to get caught in traffic for up to 15-24 hours.

We were so fortunate, we added one hour onto our four hour drive. It does not get any better than that! However, getting back into the city on Tuesday night, or should I say Wednesday morning, was a different story.