Thursday, 28 October 2010
i realized i promised to write more often, now that i was less busy... but it turns out life is still very busy, just in other ways.
in any case, here's an update on life in korea. =)
today is a historic event for my time in korea, as it is the first day of my first-ever term break. "regular" teachers get about 4 days off at the end of every 2 month term, but kinderest teachers only get like 4 days per 6 month semester (okay, i think we get a little more, like maybe 6 days). on top of us not getting those vacation days, the ones we DO get are not at the same time as the other teachers, so we can't do anything with anyone else over break anyways. honestly, i've just gotten used to it over the last year+ of my life, but i will say that its super nice to have a few days off/to myself now and again!! (tim and i are going to take a tour to the DMZ tomorrow!!!) so i'm very grateful for the 2 term breaks i will get in my time left here. =)
i really really enjoy my new position as kinderest's "curriculum development and programming" director. it definitely comes with its own challenges, and i also do really miss my kids and korean teachers, but i really like being way less tired and stressed. i feel its a healthier environment for me to be in, and (now that i am out of it) i'm impressed and proud of myself for doing as well as i did.
the plan was that i was going to get an office in the main building, but that still hasn't worked out yet, and i don't think it will. a few weeks ago i requested a printer, and now that i have it, i'm happy as a clam (...how do we know the feelings of clams??) in my little apartment "office". originally i wanted the office in the other building so i wouldn't be stuck in my house all day, but i came to the realization that God knows what He's doing because this really IS where i work best and get the most work done. (good news for my aspirations to be a freelancer!!)
some of the things i now work on (or will work on) include: creating and distributing an assessment survey to all the foreign and korean teachers and principals (STILL have not gotten several back...); making weekly dialogue for the students and korean teachers (the principal was doing this before. she thinks she has good english skills... but... let's just say its a far cry from being a native speaker); research and compile resource manuals in PE, art, music, cooking, (possibly math...) and discipline; correct the english translation for the introduction video (kinderest: a place where there is a soaring runway towards the global for the children.???); write up content for the new kinderest info/recruiting section of the SDALI website (i'll let you know when its up and running so you can check it out!); work with the academic office in revising/updating the kinderest addendum/contract; calling the 22 students i had last term every tuesday (because the new foreign teacher is "too busy" to do it, so i agreed to continue doing it as a favor to the director); subbing for junior classes (definitely prefer kinderest! so much more fun!); editing/creating religion worksheets (i've been doing this my entire time here, but no longer have to design them); and randomly helping the junior textbook office out as an extra proofreader/editor as needed (i really enjoy proofreading/editing and i'm good at it). my job description also includes being a liaison between the foreign teachers, principals, the director, and the academic office.
in personal news, my family came to visit me/korea for 10 days back towards the beginning of september, which was totally awesome. i think they visited several more places than i have in their time here! i really really enjoyed introducing them to my friends and coworkers here, as well as some of the foods and sights (my brother apparently brought like 3 packages/boxes of granola bars with him, just in case he couldn't find much to eat here). they also brought me a whole entire suitcase of food: snacks, some candy, vegemeat!, dry beans and lentils, etc) which was soooo awesome to get!!! oh yeah, and my new laptop! (my old was was getting old and slow, and there was a certain refund i could get here if i got a new computer by september, which i thought made sense to take advantage of. i sent my old one back with my family, but am looking forward to being able to use its tablet features again when i get back home!!)
other awesome things i've done in the past 2 months (both with tim) include: visiting the national museum of seoul (i think i liked the building itself and the grounds around it more that what was inside it); going to a korean wedding (one of my kinderest teachers got married on 10-10-10!); and watching the fireworks over the han river on hanguel day (the birthday of their alphabet. big celebration over here). it was easily the biggest and best fireworks show i've ever seen. first was a half hour show from the chinese (that included these awesome floaty paper lanterns that came from one of the fireworks! never even heard of that before). after a 10 minute break, there was the 30 minute show by the canadians, followed by another 10 minute break, and then the biggest and most involved show of all (of course) from the koreans. not only were there all kinds of fireworks, there were also huge spotlights that changed colors and position in time to the music! also, near the end, there were these awesome "sparkler" type fireworks along one of the bridges that looked like a waterfall of sparkling fire the entire length of the bridge (and it lasted for like a couple of minutes)! SUPER cool!!!! oh, and something caught fire too sometime during the last show (we were actually on the opposite side of the river so we couldn't see what it was, but it looked pretty big, even from far away). the place we were at was super packed (we actually ended up literally sitting in the bushes (on a blanket), like half the other people there). getting there (and home) was crazy too - it took us like an hour and a half instead of the usual 20 minutes, and that was riding the subway (which was also literally packed like sardines. never been on a subway that packed before). all in all, it was a great evening and the fireworks really made me happy. tim and i took a lot of pics (as usual), so sometime i'll get around to putting some up. =)
hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather! i know i am!!!
Wednesday, 08 September 2010
dear family, friends, and the world at large -
yes, i am still alive. and in korea.
i apologize for my scarcity since march - the start of the new school year here came with a new principal who gradually (but within 5 weeks) added on many new duties. i had very little free time, was very stressed, always tired, and extremely busy... i think the last time i was that busy and stressed was my graduating year at andrews - when, on top of school work, i had yearbook, my graphic design gallery and honors project. the principal (who also is the director of the newly-started childrens sabbath school program, and also therefore my "boss" for sabbath duties as well) is also.... shall we say, not the most easy person to work with/under, so that caused much additional stress in my life as well.
to make a long story short, the foreign teachers in all 3 kinderests were being stressed and having issues with various things in the program, so we all got together to get them resolved... this resulted in multiple meetings being held with the Academic Office (AO), suggestions being made, "concerns and solutions" papers being written, and other various attempts at fixing the problems.
a result of all of that was the creation and implementation of a new position - curriculum development and programming - which i was asked to fill upon the completion of my term contract at the end of august.
up until that point, i was seriously considering whether or not i wanted to stay with kinderest for the next 6 months because of all the stress and issues with the curriculum, personnel, etc. (if tim had not been here, i would have seriously considered returning home at the end of my contract in august.)
i was especially excited about this position because it was something that i felt passionate about and even volunteered/requested to be a part of a month or two before. since i didn't hear anything more about it in the following month, i assumed it wasn't going to work out, and resigned myself to surviving the next 6 months at kinderest... so, you can imagine my excitement when i found out about halfway through the month of august that it WAS a possibility, and i was being considered to do it. i didn't know if was actually going to happen or not until everything was finalized the very last week of august.
i was really sad, when it all came down to it, to leave my students and 2 korean teachers, but i was really happy that i wasn't leaving korea just yet. i can still visit them often (and have twice already ).
so, on the first of september i started my new position in "curriculum development and programming"!!
i work by myself, although i have to keep in touch with my bosses - the korean pastor in charge of the kinderests, and AO. currently, i am working from home while they prepare my office (but who knows when that will be ready...) i will be helping the foreign teachers first and foremost, but also will be doing a lot of things to help out the korean teachers (who work even harder than the foreigners, if that can be imagined!) and the korean principals as well.
since my position is new, a lot of what i do is left up to me, and my job description is rather fluid - the first couple of days i spent reviewing all the "concerns and solutions" documents we wrote and organizing (something i'm good at and really enjoy doing ). i also created my own job description for myself (what i wanted to accomplish / knew was needed / thought i should do ), and came up with a "plan of action" (another thing i enjoy! ). oh, and i made my own "official" email address. woohoo!
my first "assignment" was to assess the current situation to see what the biggest needs were, and sort out the immediate needs from the ones that could wait a while. my "assessment survey" is currently being filled out by current and past foreign teachers, korean teachers and principals. in the mean time, i have started creating english dialogues that cover the topic for the week/month, and am working on gathering ideas and creating a lesson plan for PE.
if anyone has any ideas or suggestions or resources where i can get ideas for PE/games for 3-7 year olds, please please please let me know!!
in the near future, i will also be coming up with cooking ideas, so if you have any ideas for easy-ish cooking projects (that can be completed in less than half an hour), that would also be most welcome.
any and all ideas are welcome!!!!
i hope to be able to blog more consistently from now on, and i also plan to "catch up" on all the stuff i was too busy to blog about over the last 6 months (i still took tons of pictures, and buggy has had many untold adventures - including a trip to the philippines!!)
so, stay tuned!
i have returned to the realm of blogging! (♪♫ cue theme music ♪♫)
Sunday, 28 March 2010
apparently i'm not cut out for regular blogging anymore.... my life is too busy!
in all the craziness with the beginning of the new school year, i forgot to tell some important news - tim was stationed at one of the closest schools to me! yay!
i really had fun getting to know tim's orientation group - the "winter time" groups are generally quite a bit smaller than the summer groups (he had about 20, i had like 37) so its a lot easier to get to know everyone. plus, they were just awesome and i love them. the day before everyone headed out, we all went out to eat at what is (i am pretty sure) my favorite restaurant in korea - new delhi. (just in case you are wondering, its indian food ;) and its soooooooooooo good!!!!)
the last day of orientation there is a special program: the CEO gives a speech, there is a slideshow of the last 2 weeks, and (most importantly?) everyone gets their assignments and finds out where they are going to be heading to the next morning (and staying for the next 2 months at the very least). tim got put in gangnam, which turned out to be about 40 minutes away, by bus then subway. its one of the closest schools to main (yay!) and its also in one of the richest parts of town. actually, its so rich/expensive where he teaches that the 4 foreign teachers from that school actually live at one of the other schools 20 mins or so away, where housing is less expensive! so far, he is enjoying teaching, and korea in general.
news on the sabbath school front is that there are too many kids in the 2-6 year old class, so we had to split it. i now teach just the 6 year olds (7 year olds here), and jill is doing the 2-5 year olds. i'm a little sad because 2 of my favorite kids were 3 and 5.... but i can be content in my circumstances. =)
kinderest is going well, although especially tiring at the beginning of the new year. the kids are finally getting settled into the routine and knowing what is expected of them. there has been some shuffling around/adding students, however. one girl got moved from the (lower english level) violet class to the (higher english level) pink class, and two new boys were added to the violet class. so i now have 2 classes of 11 each.
its been fun (and tiring!) getting the kids used to the routine, learning their classroom phrases ("may i fill up my water bottle" was added, along with "may i wash my hands?"), and settling into life in general at kinderest.
some of the highlights have been several "animal fair" days, a fieldtrip to "the little prince" playground (it was awesome), various art projects (most recently, origami insects and decoupage trees to celebrate spring), cooking classes (face sandwiches, strawberry & cheese crackers (also with a slice of carrot and cucumber, topped off with strawberry jam, all on a saltine...), and "nachos" that turned out to be more like haystacks), and the excellent new science curriculum. i seriously LOVE the new science curriculum. its amazing. each month the kids get a new special box with 4 baggies in it, each filled with the materials for one project (one per week). its also entirely in english! it is a very kid friendly (and teacher friendly!!) program, and i wish that i could get it in america to teach my own kids someday!!
just this week my violet class kids started saying "no speaking korean! speak english!" (or more often "korean - no! speak english!") they are really cute. i'm really proud of them for how much english they have already picked up. kids are amazing. i wish i could have been learning another language when i was 6!
also, "seven" changed his name to "kevin" - yay!
one of the personal highlights has been my new culinary experiences - interesting sandwiches. in the space of a week, i had these sandwiches: jam, cheese, mayonnaise, an apple slice, lettuce, cabbage, and bell peppers. and jam, egg salad (potato, egg, some random seasonings or something), cabbage, and an apple slice. (in addition to those weird "strawberry, cheese, cucumber, carrot, and jam on a saltine" things from kinderest cooking class!) and today, i had one that had mayonnaise, cabbage, cheese, and strawberry slices, along with a few other things. actually, the hardest/weirdest part was just getting my mind around the fact that jam, potatoes, and an apple were on the same piece of bread... they didn't really taste that bad. or bad at all. just really really different. and interesting. and weird.
also, the teacher for my sabbath afternoon (memory verse/sign language) class brought me a waffle she made. i'm not sure what was in it..... some of the ingredients were carrots, whole wheat, sweet potato, some kind of nuts?? i wasn't sure whether to put ketchup or syrup on it! so i tried half with each. (still not sure which tasted better...) and, although i tried my best to eat it all, i only made it though half of the waffle before i just couldn't do it anymore. it was just too heavy and too weird....
another highlight was heading out to suwon (which is about an hour and 45 mins away) by subway and bus, to visit lindsay, one of the girls from tim's orientation group (who, incidentally, remembers me from campmeeting when we were around 8 or 9. how weird/random is that? unfortunately, i don't remember her). about 7 or 8 of us met up at lindsay's apartment, although more than one of the number had traveling difficulties (one guy came all the way there on a bus (45 mins), and spent the next hour trying to find his way from the main bus terminal to the bus stop by her apartment/her apartment itself. he ended up giving up and riding the bus back. after which he got online and we encouraged him to try again, using a different bus that went straight to the right stop. then we waited at that bus stop for him for over half an hour, just to make sure he knew where to get off. it was a great feeling all around when he finally arrived!) traveling can be quite difficult when you don't know korean!
a few weeks later, a bunch of us (tim's orientation group again) headed out to yatap to meet up for a "suprise birthday party" for carel. we visited the institute in yatap (which takes up the entire 8th floor of a building - including 3 "loft" apartments for teachers!) one of the other teachers gave carel an orange bird pen, which was named "von razzle" last i heard...
so, it's been fun getting to know other teachers and bonding with them, as well as getting to know my kinderest kids better too.
and i'm so thankful that spring is (hopefully!!) on its way!!
random fact: the cereal boxes here are shiny. i don't know what they have on them, but the outside has like super gloss on it. its going to be weird to go back to non-shiny boxes.... the boxes also have these weird perforations, just in case you want to fold down you box into a nifty "save it for later" shape. oh, and the inside bags are horrible to open. i now use scissors to cut one corner open, because otherwise i usually end up ripping it all the way down one side on accident.
also, pretty much all of the cereal brands are ones we also have back in america - post, kelloggs, general mills. (because koreans just eat rice and kimchi for breakfast).
buggy in the ball pit
"the little prince" playground area
rachel eating her mini (and i DO mean mini) kimbap
new teacher kyla having fun on the trampoline
having fun on the slide
weird waffles... (notice the ketchup and syrup)
candy and a baby sheep. (although it looks more like a deer to me, but they said it was a sheep)
finally got andy b to smile (check out the sequence in the picasa album)
all in the elevator on the way to see albert's school
carel and albert with von razzle!!!
happy birthday carel!!!
you can see more pictures in my picasa web album for post 9.
(including a lot of pictures of me) =)
Friday, 19 March 2010
so i know its been a while since i posted anything... i actually have several half-written posts that have been waiting to be finished/pictures uploaded... so i finally sat down and completed all of that.
i'll be making them visible over the next few days, so as to not overwhelm you all at once. =)
also, check out my picasa site for pictures from all the posts so far (plus additional pictures!) (and you can forget about the photobucket album i made last time. it was too confusing/unappealing. picasa is much much better.)
hope you all are having a wonderful end to your winter (since spring is officially 3 days away)
p.s. the new posts are actually below this one (since they come chronologically before this one)
Sunday, 14 March 2010
well the "new school year" has started here at kinderest.
one of our foreign teachers (emily) has gone back to the "regular" program, and she was replaced by one of the new teachers from the february orientation (kyla). also, we got a new secretary (claudia is now 8.5 months or so pregnant) and a new director/principal (tina). tina also happens to be the children's sabbath school coordinator at the main church, so she's sort of our boss on the weekend as well as during the week. her "style"/personality is totally and completely different than our previous director, although for the most part i think it works well. its just a bit of a "shock" to get used to!
i am teaching the 6 year olds again (called 7 year olds here), in the pink and violet classes. the old teacher of the pink class (lindsay) is now teaching the 3-4 year olds (called 5 year olds here); the old violet teacher (grace) is now teaching the pink class, and a new teacher (claire) is teaching the violet class.
the pink class has 10 kids who all know english very well, overall (8 of them were here last school year). one of them (danny) knows a ton of english and also isn't afraid to show it off. in fact, he is always showing off his english skills, and sometimes an inopportune times. i can see that he is going to be my "challenging" child in that class... also, i have 2 andy's in the pink class - now called andy a and andy b.
the violet class has 9 kids who know basically no english (or at least it seems that way!)... one girl (julie) knows more than everyone else (she's more on a level with the pink class - almost), but one of the boys (ryan) is still having a hard time remembering how to write his letters and pronounces his name as "lion" - hahaha. they are getting better now, though, and almost all of them have a few key phrases well learned - "may i go to the bathroom please?" and "may i get a drink of water please?" - the essentials, hey? ;) i also have a set of twins in this class - candy and seven (i guess he was so proud of his new age, he wanted that as his name! all the rest of my kids have had normal names, in case you are wondering). and another andy (but thankfully only one!)
one of the new policies at kinderest this term is the "only english" approach. basically, ONLY english is to be spoken inside the school walls (teachers, kids, everyone). personally, i think this is a little too restrictive (at least for the very first month or so) because i think some things need to be explained to the kids in korean so they can understand what's going on. but we'll see how it goes.
on a random "wow the world is small" note, one of the new korean teachers (caroline) looked really familiar to me... but i figured that asian people have a lot in common so maybe she just reminded me of someone else i knew.... (but its really weird because i basically never forget a face, and i just couldn't get it out of my mind that i had seen her before.) well, as i was talking with the new foreign teacher kyla about where i went to school/my major, caroline overheard... and it turns out she went to andrews too, and was a fine arts major! she also thought that i looked really familiar. we figured out (after a few guesses) that we had both taken the printmaking class at the same time! how's that for "its a small world"??
pictures! (which also can be seen on my picasa site)
buggy blending in...
john (and ryan)
mimi and her vegetable face
seven and his vegetable face (i love how his turned out - it looks kind of worried, actually...)
candy and her vegetable face (she was extra creative and made hers wide)
the violet class!
the pink class! (and miss bong)