Thursday, March 11, 2010

Forgotten Stories

But, first, an update.  The only news I received regarding Chun wha and Chang su is that they are still in the hospital (as of this afternoon), but they are "better" than yesterday.  I wish there was something I could do.  If I decide I have the gumption tomorrow, I may call Julia and ask her which hospital they are in.  But, I don't even know if they have visitations here.  And when I reached the hospital, how would I communicate?  It's a tough situation.  I really want to lend support, but I have very little agency to do so.

Living abroad has altered our perception of normal.  We are so used to the metaphorical ground shifting underneath our feet that we forget some of our smaller experiences might be interesting to other folks.  So, I'll share a couple of previously forgotten stories and then a short humorous one from Ian today.

Firstly, Ian and I met another foreigner when we were on the bus to Wonju.  The fact that we met him at all was a little amazing in itself because he was only on the bus because he missed his train earlier that day and we were only on the bus because we couldn't remember the word for train and decided to ask the cab driver to take us to the bus terminal instead.  Anyway, the guy's name is Qasim and he's originally from Pakistan, but he's been living in the states since his early teens.  He was heading to catch a bus in Wonju to go rock climbing.  He works in a tiny town called Jucheon (I'm not sure how to spell it).  It's very rural.  The town really only exists to have a school for all the kids living in the rural outskirts to attend.  He didn't seem to mind it much, but he did say that his fellow teacher (who was a woman) left because she couldn't handle the gender politics.  There's a new girl in her place who isn't having a much easier time.  I imagine that rural Korea is quite the mind trip.  Qasim was totally rad.  We talked movies and we seemed to have the same taste.  We discussed Wes Anderson, Tarsem Singh and Stanley Kubrick.  Unfortunately, I can't find him on Facebook.  With no last name, it's nearly impossible.

A couple of weeks ago I inadvertently made a student's mother cry.  We weren't face to face or anything.  In fact, I never even spoke with her.  Her son (Gabriel) is a real pain.  He often doesn't bring his book and is usually either sleeping or playing games on his cell phone during class.  So, at least every other week, I get tired of barking at him and send him out.  Well, one time he didn't sit on the couch as directed.  Instead he went straight home.  His mother called and cried to Chun wha.  I'm not sure if she cried because she felt I was treating her son unfairly or if she was frustrated with him as well.  It's most likely the former.  Actually, I sent him out of class again today and he ran off leaving his bag and pencil case behind.

You may or may not remember that Ian has a mentally disabled student in one of his classes.  His name is Logan.  Usually he's pretty harmless, just grunting his answers.  Sometimes, though, he suddenly gets up and starts kicking and hitting Ian.  Today was especially bad for that.  Finally, Ian got fed up, grabbed him by the shoulders and forcefully sat him back down.  As he did so, a huge glob of drool fell onto Ian's hand.  Luckily, he had tissues and hand sanitizer near by.  As soon as he poured some into his hands, the students began to beg for some.  Kids here are obsessed with hand sanitizer.  Actually the whole society is.  It's a little disturbing.

Here are a couple of photos I took of the unexpected snow yesterday.  My forecast is always predicting snow showers lately, so I never know when it's actually going to happen.

The reflective surface of the play field (this is Sinback Elementary) always makes it look like we got much more snow than we did from our window.

Guy pushing the rapidly melting snow off the Tous Les Jour awning.  Tous Les Jour took the place of the corner bakery (the sign said "bay-kuh-ree" in Hangeul).  We call all these places fakeries because everything is made from the same prepackaged dough mix.  Every place (whether it's a giant corporate chain like Tous Les Jour or Paris Baguette or a tiny one off place) has exactly the same things to offer.  It's like the Korean government set up a committee to decide what bread products should be popular and they handed out a memo to everyone.  Though, I do like the sesame bread and the sweet potato cakes.  There is little else at these places worth eating.  Bagels simply should not be soft and squishy.

Good night!


  1. I wonder if the hospital staff speaks enough English, so that you could go and visit them. It may be frustrating but worth it in the end. I bet just seeing you cared enough to visit would make their day.

    I can just see this kid hitting and kicking Ian, and then the drool thing. LOL

    What a shame you guys did not get the last name of the guy on the bus. Sounds like a interesting guy.

  2. Well, when we went to the hospital for our exams, no one spoke English. Nor did they care to fill us in on anything; so I'm imagining a visit would go about the same. I know, I'm really bummed that we didn't exchange emails or last names.