Friday, September 4, 2009

Day Two!

Today did not begin as Ian and I had planned it.  We thought that we didn't need to be at work until 1, but Julia called us at 11:30 and asked us to be at Sinback "as soon as possible."  Considering we had just got back from our run and we hadn't eaten lunch, yet, we were less then stoked.

We eventually got to Sinback and Julia was waiting there for us with more training in store.  Again Julia contradicted herself with what she was looking for in our lesson plans and class times.  Then Julia told me that she would be running parts of my Beginner two classes, so that I might have an example.
An example would have been helpful before we begun.  As would have things like knowing our students ages and having all of our materials.  Those audiotapes we need?  Those will come some time next week.  Hopefully, they will come before we make our lesson plans.

It could have been helpful to watch Julia run the class except for one small thing.  As Ian and I hypothesized, she gave the kids directions in Korean.  Ian and I don't speak Korean.  If we reach a wall in the kids' understanding, we have to climb it, we don't get to walk around.  This just further proved to me that Julia does not understand our position.  She wants to.  She works very hard and is very nice, but, she is terrible at relating to us and at communicating.

In the future, if anyone ever asks me what I look for in a boss, I know what I will say.  Communication skills, empathy, and humor.  Not that Julia doesn't have a sense of humor, there's just that pesky cultural barrier.

Most of the day went very well.  Again, my Essential 1 class was my favorite.  I really like those kids.  They must be between 10-12 and they are hilarious.  Not only are they interested in talking to me and learning from me, but they actively work on their English in class.  If they feel they have something interesting to say (usually something a little silly) they work together to figure it out in English.  Today they felt it was important for me to know that "woods" (forest) in Korean is sup (soop).  I still don't know why they needed to tell me that, but I welcomed the random information.  Korean's seem to be a little on the self deprecating side and they don't offer much in the way of cultural teachings.

Before I forget, Chelsea asked what was drying out on the tarp. Chillies!  Lots and lots of chillies.  Apparently, they are quintessential to this part of Korea.  Along with garlic.
I took a lot of pictures today, so I'll let them do the rest of the talking.  Some of the photos are a tiny bit blurry because I we were actually jogging when I took them.  Why didn't I stop?  I don't know.  I was trying to get my exercise on!

A chilli field along our run.

A pumpkin for Grant!  Sadly, there is no Halloween here, but many foreigners in Seoul make a night of it.  We think we may go there to celebrate.


The stone path we took yesterday and today on our run.  There's an old woman maybe wondering why we are running by her house.

 The Buddha that is toward the end of the stone path.

There aren't really sidewalks for a good part of our run, so you have to be savvy and safe.

A house with pretty landscaping along our run.

Big irrigation.

Many sunflowers grow here. :)

This is what the school's doors look like.  Very "we are the world" for such a homogeneous culture.

This is our boss, Julia.  She doesn't normally sit at the front desk. Her office is behind her.

This is "my" desk.  The kids use the computer, too.

My box of "materials."  Julia really likes that word.

This is Tina.  (I look like a dork :) )  She took some photos of me teaching.

Me in one of my older classes, showing a student where I'm from.

Me in front of one of my classes.

Kimbob (traditional Korean sushi).  They gave it to me for dinner.  I pushed out the meat (a small piece of cured ham and a piece of artificial crab, you can see the mess in the box) and ate two to "save face" (act appropriately).  Don't expect us to do that back in the states.  Kimbob is good though.  We would order yachae (vegetable) kimbob.  The b's are said like a cross between a b and a p.  "Bob" or "Bpobp" is rice.

Ian met me after school to go to the store for some carrots.  He didn't mind pushing out the meats from the kimbob.

I saw these at HomeMart.  Take that SunnyD!  I don't know why that amused me. :)

Our converter doesn't stay up very well, so we've improvised.  The power change may also be killing our laptop batteries...

Tomorrow begins our weekend.  We are excited, though we don't have the three day one that you will enjoy in the states.  Have a good one!


  1. Oh yeah, we have a holiday on Monday, don't we? I've never done anything for it, so I kind of forgot.
    Dominic and I have been wondering if it is difficult to teach a second language when you don't speak the first. Do the kids already know a lot? It seems that it is mostly the adults that you are having problems with.
    Also, what is the weather like? Hot, humid, cool, dry? The area in which you guys run is quite beautiful.

  2. It is difficult. But, mostly because our director has a lot of difficulty telling us what she wants and needs. There hasn't been any real training, Julia just gives us materials and expects us to intuit what she wants. When we have ideas (good ideas, we think) she's not as happy than if we use hers (which she doesn't really give us until after the fact).
    Some of the kids speak English very well. The Beginning levels are the difficult ones because they don't understand your directions. I think all students under fourth or fifth grade should be taught by a bilingual teacher. Essentially, if Ian and I had our way, or were allowed to give our input,we'd change a lot about how Yoon's is run.