Friday, January 17, 2014

Changdeok Palace (창덕궁) in the winter

There came a weekend in December when I joined R in Seoul. While she met friends and went shopping, I took advantage of our hotel's proximity to Changdeok Palace and paid it a visit. Despite being one of Seoul's finest palaces, it didn't have too many visitors on this bright Saturday. Tour groups were here and there, but their scarcity only propounded Changdeok's vastness. Its size made wandering the grounds quite fun. I enjoyed being alone in its courtyards and shadows.

See more here: 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reflections on the 2013 school year 4: Learning names

One of the first lessons a politician learns is this: "To recall a voter's name is statesmanship. To forget it is oblivion."
- Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
The same principle extends to students: To recall a student's name is the quickest way to see him smile. To forget it is admit failure as his teacher.

That's only 1/4 exaggeration, actually. The students, like anyone, love to hear their names. They love it even more when I remember them without any prompting. Their excitement's palpable; I get a thrill out of it as well.

Learning Korean students' names, and the difficulties thereof, is a perennial subject for foreign teachers here. I'll remember 2013 as the year I became good at remembering high school students' names. I did it this way:

Have a class roster on hand at all times

I began doing this in the States. Back then, the class list was on a clipboard I carried around the room. Nowadays, the students' names get written in the roster pages inside my teacher's journal. In every class, I'd pick 1-3 students, and make a point to mention their names at various points during the class. Repeating their names, either for asking questions or for keeping their behavior in check, aided my memory immensely.

Use names in conversation / Say hello in the hallways

I've touched on talking to students in the hallway before, but oftentimes a short "Hello So-young" or "Good morning Jae-hyeong!" is just as effective.

Keep at it

Learning anything of importance takes time. Keep at it and try not to be discouraged. Good luck!

Quick link: Koronicles' "Solo Christmas"

Two things to note about the Cheorwon middle and high school students:

  1. They all but worship the Home Alone movies.
  2. They all wring their hands about spending Christmas "solo," or without a paramour. As noted before, Christmas is much more of a couples' day than a family day here, and the kids feel the pain of singledom. I have to hold back my laughter when I hear 13 year old boys talk about not having girlfriends because they feel like they're failures. The poor kids...I didn't have a girlfriend at 13 either, but that's neither here nor there. The kids will get their paramours eventually.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

(Belated) A Kormerican Christmas

This post is coming a couple weeks late, but oh well. The holiday spirit is still with me...

R and I enjoyed a "Kormerican" Christmas, for a blend of Western and Korean things took place on that day and the Eve:

Christmas is a national holiday, so we were able to gather for a barbecue potluck on the Eve and have Christmas Day off from school. Matt and I handled the grilling of the meats and the toast while others brought sides to share. We grilled outside on the apartment balcony and huddled around the grills to keep warm. We grilled Korean galbi and our version of Texas toast out there. Cal took over later on when we needed meat reinforcements. It went quite well. Later on, a Korean buddy of Matt and Alli showed up and grilled up a third round of meat on the kitchen stove. We all agreed has some fine cooking skill! Matt and Alli's page has the photos.

 As is customary in some circles, we did a "White Elephant" gift exchange. I'm new to this one, but it was good all of the same. I enjoyed watching everyone bicker over the trades and steals. Evidently you can do those kinds of things.

Christmas Day continued with the mingling of cultures: The American aspects consisted of our gift exchange and Rochelle cooking a roast for dinner. We also watched three movies, a personal best. Two of them were related to Christmas, yet they had nothing to do with Santa: Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. They were good.

The Korean part was small, but substantial: We ordered Korean food for delivery. The restaurants deliver every most every day because national holidays really mean only the schools and some government services close down, so otherwise, stuff's more or less the same. It felt strange ordering delivery on Christmas because we've never been able to do that in our respective home states. The food tasted quite good though.