Happy Thanksgiving!


Though Chuseok was a couple of months ago, it’s Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving in the US. For most of my kids, it meant going to their grandparent’s house. Highlights include getting money and eating food. Lowlights often are: not being able to play with friends and having to play with cousins (the horror!).

Since it’s now Thanksgiving in the US, I decided to share a few things my students said they were grateful for. I have to paraphrase since we did this exercise during Chuseok and I’ve forgotten much of what they said. A few things stuck in my mind, though. I taught them the phrase “I’m thankful for….” which preceded everything all the things they were thankful for. I also asked many of them to explain further.

I’m thankful for food! Without food, we die.

Im thankful for sleeping. Without sleep, we die.

I’m thankful for playing games. They are fun.

I’m thankful for air. Without air, we die.

I’m thankful for parents. They give me food.

My all time favorite was:

I’m thankful for bones. Without them, I can’t stand or move.

As for me…I’m thankful to be here. Thankful for teaching these amazing kids despite feeling inadequate many times. They can be darn frustrating but every time one of them surprises me with a creative or thoughtful answer it makes it all worth it. I’m thankful for the experiences I am gaining by being here. Thankful for my friends here as well as the rest of my support network back home. I’m thankful for the technology that lets me stay connected with loved ones. And I’m thankful for all of you who take the time out of your daily lives to read my words and look at my pictures. I hope it’s as interesting, fun and rewarding for you to read as it is for me write it.

너무 감사합니다! [Thank you very much!] (bow)

The Elusive Subway Car: A Mystery


I saw it for the first time a couple of months ago. I got off work as I usually do, around 9 pm, and I headed to the subway station. The moment my ride came into view I noticed something was different. Normally, the inside walls are white and the seats are have green padding that give smell vaguely like all the people who ever sat on it. You get used to it but sometimes I opt to stand even when there are open seats.

This subway car looked different. The doors opened and I stepped in, feeling like I was entering an optical illusion. It was as if someone obsessed with zebras (or inducing dizziness) had been given free reign to decorate. The madness was contained in a single car but very little within that car escaped redecoration. Continue reading

Weeks 33-35: Life and parties



Typical dinner at work. Rice and side-dishes. Shrimp, fake crab meat, kimchi, tofu and veggies.

Life has been rather low-key these past weeks. I haven’t gone on any trips anywhere nor have I taken my camera out for much of anything. Anything I could talk about would be in the category of the mundane parts of my life: the every day occurrence or in the small details that are different on a daily basis. For me, I categorize them as either unimportant or uninteresting. Still, it has been brought to my attention (not for the first time) that my daily life might prove interesting to others.

I will try to refrain from being one of those people who feels the need to let the world know every detail of their lives with comments like “I had a bowel movement 10 minutes ago!” Continue reading

Vignette: Jobs and Uniforms


Today, in one of my younger classes, we were practicing talking about different kinds of jobs. Now, the book they use has a few photos that are rather ambiguous and hard for the kids to decipher.

For example: I’m 99% sure that the person dressed as a firefighter is a woman. But she looks pretty androgynous. Naturally, when the question of “What does s/he do?” came up, there was some disagreement in the class as to which pronoun to use.

The other confusion came with the picture of the pilot. Continue reading

Pepero Day


November 11th was Pepero day; a holiday that does not warrant time off from work or school and is essentially a marketing ploy to buy Pepero. Pepero (also known as “Pocky” in Japan and any US store that sells Asian snacks) essentially a biscuit stick dipped in chocolate 3/4 of the way down. Anyways, it gets treated much like Valentines day does in the US…with maybe a little less pomp. Students may give Pepero to their teachers and vice versa.

I went to school prepared Continue reading