Sunday, June 17, 2012

Military Demos on a Pocheon Mountain / Metal Storm

From a recent Facebook status update: "I joined my high school kids for a field trip to a mountainside military base yesterday. We saw a *live fire* demonstration of American and Korean tanks, jets, and helicopters. I saw an A10 Warthog in all its glory and that famous machine gun sounded menacing. See the Youtube link for one part of what we saw. The Naver link has pictures. The artillery fire was deafening. The tank fire will hit in the guts from hundreds of feet away. We saw (and heard) this multiple times during the hour long demonstration. It ranks as one of the best times I've had here. We got to see the tanks, missiles, and bombs that shelled the mountain. Enjoy."
The Korean and American military holds this demo every year. This video shows exactly what we saw, except we had much better weather.
This page has the pictures.

More to come later.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Another side of the Korean school system

Some big news for the week:

My contract renewal papers arrived earlier. I signed them. Renewing's been on my mind for a long time now; indeed, it's been there since month two or three. The principal, principal, and the teachers approve of it, but the principal said (at a dinner last night) that the students' opinions held the most sway, and they want me to stay too. I'm glad they do because they're fun to work with!

That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that another student's committed suicide. This story came out this week:
A Daegu commits suicide over alleged bullying

This has happened eight times in six months and it's beyond saddening.

The website Eat Your Kimchi has a good and informative page about Korean schools and bullying. It also explains more about how the school hours work over here. The students put in long hours during the week and most of them don't get too much rest at night. Somehow they hang on.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy Korean Memorial Day

No school today because it is Korean Memorial Day. Let's take a moment to remember the military personnel of this great country.

As a side note, the summer weather has arrived: it's hot and sunny today. It's time for a siesta.

Monday, June 4, 2012

May 2012 in review

A new month has begun, so it's time to look back at the previous one. May was a good time. There'll be more to come...the following comprises some of the best times:

  • Getting a cab ride from central Seoul to Wasu at 3am with Kirsten. We rode around 110km and paid 100,000won including tip. This came at the end of a long night that began with Claire’s choir concert downtown and ended with a long after party in a neighborhood near the Noksapyeong Station.
  • Pub Golf with most of the Cheorwon Crew. Claire put this together: Nine holes spread across all three of our towns, replete with 3 legged races, flip cup, beer pong, bowling, beer chugging. The opening hole had us chugging a beer through a mouth full of marshmallows and then eating the marshmallows. I did this in two long swigs. Most everyone else did it in one. Those marshmallows burned on the way down the throat.
  • Meeting some of teachers and students of my two schools’ sister school in Heffei, China.
  • Having the distinct pleasure of teaching a 90 minute joint class of Korean and Chinese students from middle school and high school. The principal, vice principal, and many of the teachers watched. The class had students from middle school grade 3 to high school grade 3. I and my co-teacher Ms. Jeong taught the students how to write a comparison paragraph about the two schools on a piece of poster paper and the kids did wonderfully. The paragraphs they wrote exceeded our expectations and the kids had a great time working with each other. All of them listened attentively and showed enthusiasm. This day will forever stand as one of my best (and favorite) classes. Credit goes to the principal for the comparison idea and Ms. Jeong for preparing the posters and 90% of the lesson. She outdid herself there.
  • Drinking free makgeolli on the street at the Cheonggyecheon Festival.
  • Riding on a motor  scooter for the first time—on a Friday night in the gridlocked Dongdaemun area of Seoul. Weaving between cars made for one fun near-death experience.