• 3.2 Summer 2021

    And Suddenly

    Well. Speak of the devil. In another Korean surprise, the aforementioned pothole that has been in existence since I moved here five months ago has been, all at once, fixed. Do you think Changwon public works reads this blog? Life is give and take, though: a pothole did quite literally appear at school this week, so perhaps the saying is not so figurative after all. When Korea closes a pothole, it opens another somewhere else. Or something like that.

  • Thoughts & Drabbles

    Land of Opposites

    Sometimes I am surprised by the mundane familiarity that Korea offers. I drive a car, I go to Costco, I have insurance. I know that it can be unintentionally condescending to feel shock at “Western” amenities but a lifetime of “foreign = exotic” still gives me surprise when any country operates at all like the US. I drive my car with my postpaid toll card to and from department stores and automatic parking lots and feel wonder less and less at what are perfectly normal global occurrences. And yet. When it first started to get warm, I turned on my AC and later went to my veranda to put up…

  • 3.2 Summer 2021

    July 23, Summer Begins

    I woke up after a bizarre series of dreams and was soothed by my return to brain jumbled madness after a season of atypical, boring, dreamless sleep. The first day of summer had started smoothly with exclamations from the daycare teachers that I had arrived. I prepared for camp, and then hesitantly agreed to lunch with Jack. “One more person will come.” He added. I asked who. “He’s the oldest man in this school.” I was surprised by this identifier; maybe he meant longest employed man, but it’s hard to tell with Jack. I remembered the ill-fated lunch with the admin staff back in Seoul and then decided whatever, I…

  • 3.1 Spring 2021,  Favorites

    July 17, Emergency Room 2.0

    My friend and I committed to another surfing lesson, and I privately committed to not flirting with anyone lest I be let down again. It looked like it wouldn’t be a problem this time. Our instructor of the day looked serious and responsible, as though he had taken a brief respite from being a military officer to teach surfing. It was hard to think of him too severely what with the comical white cast of intense sunscreen on his face. All the surf boys have gotten dark, as evidenced by their casual shirtlessness around the shop– a fact of which I’m extremely jealous. I wish I tanned as easily as…

  • 3.1 Spring 2021

    July 15, Sign Hae Juseyo

    Jennie stopped by the elementary school in the afternoon to pick up the final student evaluations and update me on the debate teacher seminar. “Some teachers have high level students and other teachers said they also have low level students. They recommended doing smaller group or pair work, like mini debates with you, to get the students talking.” We agreed that was a good idea. She said the teachers also discussed making debate less intense and treating the class more casually. I thought of the disastrous Myanmar debate and silently agreed. The local taekwondo coach, cute but very young, led out a line of little uniformed ducklings and looked at…

  • 3.1 Spring 2021

    July 10, Last Debate Class of Spring Semester

    Boy 3, sensitive and clever and consequentially my favorite student, pulled up an image to aid his scriptless presentation of an artwork. “This is The Scream by Edvard Munch.” This is why I like him. “I first saw it in kindergarten,” he started. Excuse me? He clarified: he had seen it at his kindergarten where the painting had been hung on the wall. I cannot think of a less appropriate painting for a school of five year olds. He said that it made him scared then and while it doesn’t scare him now, he still has dreams about the screaming bald subject. Jennie asked him if there’s anything in his…

  • 3.1 Spring 2021

    July 5, Look Into My Eyes

    I muttered to myself sometime during 6-5, “y’all are funny”. In the classes that have proven a little difficult, I brought out the class rules. Respect, listen, prepare. They were reminded of my expectations and thus were able to curb the worst of their impulses. It was a much needed refresher! My pre-pubescent little goblins were engaged and hard-working today. After a chat during an Avatar (The Last Airbender) streaming party with some other experienced teachers, I’ve leaned away from doing so many active games. Teacher needs a break, too! The last chapter of the sixth grade textbook is all about appearance. But to keep vocabulary simple, the book restrics…

  • 3.1 Spring 2021

    July 4, Ancestral Rites

    The weekend was wild, and certainly not how I’d imagine I’d be spending America’s independence. I drove to my friend Rachel’s house in Gimhae to hang out and celebrate her “housewarming”. Her house isn’t new, but her family was able to buy the unit on the first floor and now the whole villa is theirs. I’ve never seen lodging of that size in Korea– the first floor has three bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. Upstairs there is also a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom. I had planned to buy her an acceptable Korean housewarming gift which is traditionally laundry detergent or toilet paper. Historically these things…

  • 3.1 Spring 2021

    July 2, Happy Friday

    Today was a good student day. The kids were at turns funny and touching. Fifth grade was a standout with comedic timing absolutely on point. They had to write their own self introduction which they enjoyed, because who doesn’t love talking about themselves, and then they had to interview four classmates. I also used my own details as an example for the self introduction. The kids were either amazed that I plan to go surfing this summer, or intrigued that I take Korean classes on the weekend, or shocked by my age. Clever girls in 5-2 commented, “29! It’s so young!” Yes, I told them. Young! They also offhandedly commented…