Tag Archives: teaching Korea

Swiney Update

Since school attendance yesterday consisted of only about 25 students between all the classes, and many, many parents complained that we were even open at all, our director took the hint and closed the school until next Tuesday. Initially we, the teachers, were still obliged to work today(Thursday), Friday, and Monday. Due to the fighting of our sweet little head teacher, Sunny, we have now been given today and tomorrow off, although we still have to come in on Monday. I’m okay with that though. On a funny/ridiculous side note, 4 of the Big Reading Town teachers (Emily, Jeff, Steve-who is actually little RT, and Caitlin) decided to book last minute flights to Japan as soon as they got confirmed time off last night. Jessie, the head teacher for Big RT found out and basically ripped them apart, forbidding them to go  and saying that she felt betrayed because “we are a family”. Complete and total bullshit, but that’s how she rolls. Anyway, they cancelled their trip. And Jessie texted ALL of us to “not leave the country.” Flee flee, I say!

To celebrate I came home last night and sat on my butt. It was great. I drank some beers, Jon and Dave attempted (and failed) to make caramel apples, and then I put on my halloween costume-it’s a panda, it’s great-and fell asleep at midnight after breaking the one heineken glass that we owned.  I woke up early and am currently trying to convince Marisa to take a quick trip with me for the next couple of days to Chuncheon or Daegu…anywhere, really. I don’t plan on spending my extra free vacation sitting around in Pyeongnae. Not that that would really be all that horrible.  But I’d like to get out and about. We shall see what happens.  In the meantime, look at me dressed like a panda.

Panda!

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Black toffee apples-fail, boys.

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Hanging out panda-style.

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Yeah, not so edible. Unfortunately.

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Everyone loves pandas.

Swine Flu comes to Reading Town

And my two cents are as follows:

As we have now had four diagnosed cases of the dreaded H1N1 confirmed at Reading Town, things are really working themselves up to a fever pitch. Dozens of cases have been reported at multiple schools in the Hopyeong/Pyeongnae area and as of today 4 other schools have been closed down. Since our genius(?) director seems to think that none of this is a big deal, she has decided that instead of closing we will all wear surgical masks (which, by the way, has been proved to have no effect on the spread of influenza).  I guess I should state now that I’m not a huge believer in this whole swine flu thing-that meaning I don’t think it’s the new version of the black plague, or even that all that many more people are dying from it then any other year’s flu. That being said, I am throughly annoyed by the blatant two-faced actions of my boss, as she once again talks about how much she cares for the health of the children, while denying the most logical actions to protect their health. An action which has already been taken by a number of other schools in our town.

So far there have been 15,000 confirmed cases of swine flu in South Korea, with the number of deaths being reported somewhere between 11 and 25 (read more here and here). This isn’t good, of course, but it’s not like people are dropping left and right, gasping their final breaths on the streets of Seoul. Everyone just needs to keep their heads on straight, take the proper precautions, and not overact. This being my humble opinion, that is all.  At least if this keeps up maybe we will also have a couple of days off. Which would be, um, super sweet. Oh yeah, and I’ve been told to buy my own mask now to wear to school everyday.  So that will be fun.

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Lucky for us we look good in face masks!

Chuseok Celebration

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As this Saturday, October 3rd  marks the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar in Korea, it is time to celebrate the harvest thanksgiving holiday of 추석(Chuseok)! Generally this holiday is a big deal in the country, similar to American Thanksgiving-although minus the turkey, for sure- and is marked with time off from work and school, the wearing of traditional clothes called hanbok, and of course feasting on a LOT of food. Today at Reading Town we had a 추석 event day. All the teachers and students dressed up, played traditional games like chaegi chogi, paegi, and twaygeecheegi which are similar to their western counterparts of hackey sack, tops, and paper footballs, respectively. It was a lot of fun seeing the kids all dressed up, not to mention seeing their reactions to my own costume. They loved it! Each class spent the first morning period in their own rooms, making a traditional rice cake called 송편 (song-pyeon) which is filled with sesame and honey and steamed on a bed of pine needles. I tried one and was thoroughly disgusted, but the kids loved them and kept wanting to make more! The kids were very tired out by the end of the day, as was I, but unfortunately I still had to stay until 5:30, whereas they did not….just as Marisa and I were slipping out the door at the stroke of the bell, our director stopped us to give us a large box each-our 추석 present from her. When we arrived home we sat down to open the boxes. I was gifted with a set of 3 hams-really, HAMS! One a tenderloin, one a cassoule (?), and one bbq (this is the translation from the Korean on the label). The gift box also included a bottle of sweet chili sauce and a bottle of “pickle mustard”, whatever that may be. Marisa’s gift box contained canola oil, sesame oil, an indistinguishable bottle of some other kind of oil, some salt, and two packages of Spam. Happy Chuseok to us! On another gifty-food note, Peter’s mom also bought me a huge HUGE box of kim (dried, salted seaweed, usually eaten wrapped around rice, or as I prefer, rice and kimchi) as a Chuseok gift.  I now have a lifetime supply of the stuff. Are you jealous? Because you should be.

Look at all that kim! I'll never go hungry again!

Look at all that kim! I'll never go hungry again!

And now the good stuff: adorable Korean children in costume. And me. But I’m cute too.

Getting ready for the day, Sunny ties me up.

Getting ready for the day, Sunny ties me up.

How do we look?

How do we look?

This is Thomas' and Cleo's reaction to seeing us in hanbok.

This is Thomas' and Cleo's reaction to seeing us in hanbok.

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My baaaabies.

My baaaabies.

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Making song-pyeon.

Making song-pyeon.

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Tomorrow I’m off for a fancy birthday/Chuseok weekend in Seoul. Tres, tres excited!