Monday, October 29, 2007

Another Update on Korea

I keep meaning to post here and keep everyone updated, but sadly I think of it when I'm no where near the computer. So, since today is Teacher's Day in Yesan and there is no school, I thought it would be the perfect time!

Last Friday we had a "festival" at the school and the kids played various games in the morning, had some lunch and then in the afternoon had a variety show of sorts. There were also prize give-aways but I don't have any idea what the prizes were.
Here, two students are hopping on one foot while holding the other up. The idea is to knock into your opponent and get him to lose his balance and put his foot least that's the way it seemed to me. They seemed to be enjoying this one a lot.

These are just a few of the pictures. I didn't think anyone was overly interested in seeing all my students...and not sure what the protocol is of posting their pics on here. So, I thought I'd just post some.
To the right are several of the students in the school just after lunch. They were playing around, reading and just socializing while they waited for the variety show to start. To the left are four of the students playing brass instruments. They look far away, but really they weren't. I was using my camera phone zoomed in as close as it would go, and the picture makes me look like I was very far away from the stage.
All in all, the day was pretty good. After it as all said and done the teachers (or most of them) went out for supper. That wasn't too bad, except the Korean's like to drink and they kept offering me drinks. I've told them over and over again that I do not drink. They find that concept hard
to believe I think. They keep asking me, I keep saying no. Then they'll say, how about trying just a little or just a sip...and I keep telling them, no I don't drink at all. I wish they could get it into their heads that it's pointless to keep asking me.
Well, I think I will just keep this post short and post the next time about the school trip to Seoulland and a festival in Hongseong that I went to a couple of weekends ago. I've got pictures of those as
well. I just basically wanted to update you and let you know that everying is going well. The leaves are changing colour which I was beginning to wonder about since being told that they do in fact change here. It's towards the end of October when it happens though, and not earlier like in Canada. Some of my pictures from Seoulland shows the coloured leaves, so I'll even have proof :o).
I haven't been getting to church lately. It's just so difficult to find the motivation when the service is held in Korean and sometimes the translation isn't the best, and can be hard to understand. I don't find I'm feeling any connection there, nor do I feel like I can worship because I don't understand things, nor do I feel like I'm being fed. We are thinking of trying out a church in Chonan (an hour and 20 mins away) that we've seen from our bus trips into the city. They advertise English services so we might see if we can find it from the bus stop and try that service. We're not entirely sure yet though. I'll let you know what we decide to do and how it turns out.
So, that's all for now. Have a Christ-filled day!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Feelings of Frustration

Well, I've been in Korea now nearly two months. Things are going about as well as they can I suppose. I am still trying to get used to the customs, the people, and the culture.
I have been feeling a little frustrated lately with the whole "lack of communication" thing. It's rather irksome to not be able to communicate with people. The thing is, I'm not frustrated or irked at the people who don't understand English; I'm frustrated with those who can (the Korean people that is). I think what it boils down to has to deal with translation issues. I try to explain things to one particular co-teacher and she just doesn't seem to understand. Her English is very good though. One example is just yesterday I was asking her if she could ask the computer teacher if he could change the language over on my computer at school as well as the lap top they gave me to use. Everything is in Korean and I can't understand it; therefore I can't really use the computer. I'd like to do Power Point in the classroom, but I can use it because the program is in Korean. I'm trying to install a webcam on the laptop, but it's not working because the program (cd) is in English, and the computer might not be recognizing it because of the language thing - at least that's what I'm thinking because my friend Sarah has the same computer in her apartment (from her school) and her's is in English. She also has the same web cam and her's works fine. Anyway, long story short, my co-teacher went to ask him and a couple of the other Korean teachers got in on the conversation, one of who is another of my co-teachers. This co-teacher comes over and tells me if I'm wanting an English site to just type it into the computer and it will come up English. I said I know that, and I do that. I want the whole computer changed over so I can use the programs and know what to do when the boxes pop up on the screen with errors and whatnot....aarrggghhhhh!
My last class on Thursdays are horrible. These kids, I've been told, are the worst class in the school and they also have the lowest marks. I can totally see why! They don't listen. They talk when they shouldn't be. They are smartalecky (or however you spell that). They are loud. They just don't care. My co-teacher said that all the teachers, including the Korean teachers, can't control this class. Nothing seems to work, and finally I am at my witts end - I've given them all the chances they are going to get. My co-teacher was only in the class for five minutes and she was yelling at them and hitting them (that is still allowed over here...I don't agree with it, and I refuse to hit them). She had to leave, and was gone the rest of the class. I told her afterwards that I didn't get anything done (again) with that class and that I told them next time they are getting kicked out of my class. I don't know how well the boys understood me, but I asked her if kicking them out into the hall or somewhere else was allowed. She said it was. So next week as soon as someone starts acting out, I'm kicking him, or them, out. I don't care if I'm left with the three or four or five that actually seem to try to listen and do the work.
Thankfully, my classes today aren't like that. They are pretty good, so I shouldn't have any problems with them. There is another class similar to this class I was just talking about, but they aren't nearly as bad. That class is on Mondays. I pray that my classes go well, and that I can especially handle that Thursday class.
Well, I had better go and start getting ready for work. Have a Christ-filled day!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Jumble of Topics

I don't understand the postal system. I know a bit about how it works and the "behind the scenes" sort of dealings with the mail, largely in part because my father used to work at the post office sorting mail. I also did some casual work doing the same job back in the late 1980s.

My parents have sent me three small packages within the last three to four weeks. The first package, my dad was told, would take fifteen days to arrive. That coincided with the Korean thanksgiving holiday, Chuseok. For that holiday, the Koreans have three days off plus the weekend (unless the holiday lands on the weekend). The fifteenth day would have been on the Saturday before the holiday, thus no mail (there is no mail delivery here in Yesan on the weekend). So, since the next three days after the weekend were holidays, there was also no mail service. The next possible day for me to receive the package would have been the Thursday immediately following the holiday. I did not receive the package.

That Friday, I did get a package. It was not the first package (which I really wanted quickly because it contains the cord for my camera so I can download my pictures). No, the package I received was the third package (which I also needed). It has now been nearly a week and I still have not received the first or second packages. Weird. The third package only took eleven days for me to receive. This experience has left me wondering if the other two were sent surface mail (though I don't think that was how they were supposed to go, especially since my father was told the first one would only take fifteen days for me to receive). If that is the case and they were sent surface mail, then it will take about six to eight weeks before I will receive them.

In other news, last weekend Sarah and I went to visit Lorie in Hongseong where she lives. Hongseong is about a twenty minute bus ride from Yesan and is a little bigger than Yesan. The streets are also wider, and they actually have sidewalks there - Yesan doesn't have sidewalks.

We had a great time walking around the town, shopping, stopping to have some pizza (man, it was soooo good!), and of course visiting Lorie. The pictures I've scattered in this post are all from Hongseong.

One place we stopped at had the best frozen yogurt! It had a fruit taste to it, but we couldn't put our fingers on the exact taste. It might have been a mix of tropical fruits though...regardless, it was really good. I took a picture of the yogurt because the spoons they use are so cute - they are little shovels! Sarah and I both got frozen yogurts, and Lorie had some kind of latte or fancy type coffee. We aren't sure why, but Sarah and I both got two spoons with our yogurts. I can't remember the name of the shop, but it was really cute and colourful and we remember how to get there so the next time Sarah and I head up to visit with Lorie, we are going back for more frozen yogurt!

This tree was also in the shop. It's not real, but there are hundreds of little slips of paper with Korean writing on them, and these pieces of paper are literally attached everywhere to the tree. It would have been nice to have someone who knew what this was about (or someone from the shop who spoke English so we could have asked what it was about) to explain it to us.

Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up in a few days (October 8 to be exact), and Lorie is going to come visit Sarah and I in Yesan. We are going to have some kind of celebration meal, but it won't be turkey. I'm really going to miss that this year because I always enjoy turkey dinners at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think we are going to have spaghetti and try to find some spaghetti sauce that is similar to what we get back in Canada. At least that is what we were thinking of having; it could change I suppose.

I was talking to my parents the other day and they were telling me my older brother and his wife are going away for Thanksgiving this year, and my younger brother and his family aren't going to be making it up for the holiday either. And with me on the other side of the world, they are going to be alone for Thanksgiving - the first time ever I think. Even before we were born, my grandmother was living with my parents so if no other family came for the meal (or if my mother's brothers didn't invite them over), they wouldn't have been alone. They are going to see if there are any church suppers being served for the holiday and go to that. It makes me kind of sad to think that they aren't going to have any of the kids over for the holiday. I'm sure my brothers and their families will be there for Christmas though, and that's the main thing I think - having family around for that special holiday.

Well, I've rambled on quite a bit in this post so I will end here. Have a Christ-filled day!