I’m feeling so entirely despondent today. everyone had a beautiful time at the temple and the kids really got into writing down ten things they saw in English. I think Xiao thought it was pretty cool, too. it’s 9:30pm now and I have no lesson plan for tomorrow or a plan for myself and where I am going to go for the weekend. I have to teach on Sunday so I really don’t want to go all the way to Seoul, plus its so expensive. Apa talked to me today about how the whole money situation is going down and it’s not extremely pretty so I’m concerned about spending…. but many of my friends are in Seoul so I’ll probably just go for it. Xiao is leaving tomorrow, which is way too soon, though a few days ago I thought it couldn’t be soon enough. my pretentions have really gotten in the way with having him here – I think it was hard to have another American on my turf, and not having seen him for 2 years and then being so heavily associated with him was intense. now I think we’ve had some time to relearn each other and I’m feeling really close to him again. but he’s leaving. tomorrow. damn you tegan.
this whole sexism thing drags me down too, and now I’m projecting that anger towards the rest of the culture. I’m just tired of it all. except the kids, of course. I never get tired of kids. oh, last night at the jimjilbag the MOST ADORABLE kid EVER was wandering around and being cooed at by everyone. it just so happened that I walked down the steps as he was making his way slowly down and he looked up to me with his big, dark eyes and reached his soft little innocent hand out – we walked slowly down the stairs together. he then followed me over to the water cooler and we drank together. it’s interactions like this, truly human, full of life, love, trust; that I really live for.
I haven’t touched my cell for days but picked it up today realizing that I had to make weekend plans and have since found out that I’m totally missing meeting some of my best friends while I’m here. the time is just too short, I guess. many of them have winter school – my beloved Ji-min is taking a TOEFL class right now that lasts everyday from 9am to 11pm. that’s not a typo. it’s a 14 hour class. my other good friend is beginning his army service this week. another good one is in Australia. a bunch of them are just scattered across the country in various inconvenient locations. sigh. the funny part is that my chances of seeing them are probably as likely as the chances of seeing some of the random friends that I’ve got scattered throughout my own country. it’s all a meticulous balancing act – who really matters to us? – what really matters? – why do you love someone? – what is sincerity? – what is real friendship and what does it feel like? – can you ever really have too many friends? I was reading a book of Korean Buddhist stories a few nights ago. one of the stories was about the infinite capacity of the human mind. I wonder if that infinite capacity can be applied to human relations and carried over into infinite love…
we spent last night at a warm jimjilbang in nearby Young-ju which was a welcome change. there were so many rowdy young people at the temple that it was probably a relief for all. the other kids woke Xiao and i up at 7:30 though, which was a ridiculous decision being that we actually had the chance to sleep in until at least 8! needless to say, we were slightly irritated. i slept in the wierdest jimjilbang accomodation that i have ever come across – a cavernous hole in the wall built for one. i felt like a polar bear, a warm and happy one…
Hay-gyung being molested by one of our high-schooler companions this morning, she screamed “piunte!” (pervert) at her, but it had little effect –
my deliciously cavernous dwelling –
we are visiting the nearby Bulseoksa temple this afternoon with the kids for a fun little excursion. i’ve been there before and it really is a striking ode to korean buddhism and buddhist structures, being the oldest standing wooden structure in the country. i really wanted Xiao to see it before he leaves (tomorrow) and coudn’t think of any other way than to take the whole class. so. each student must write down ten things that she/he sees on the excursion in english and then we’ll talk about what we saw.
i keep having bizarre dreams and dreams about school. a few days ago i dreamt that i missed all of my classes on the first day and didn’t remember anything on campus, so i printed off my schedule and went over it. i think that i am just excited about being home and in charge of my life again, and i miss my kittens and the joy of college. there is such a comfort in knowing what my mission is and what comes next; college is a strengthening, self-fulfilling project that at once yeilds boundaries and goals and also felxibility and personal empowerment. i love it. i miss it. but i don’t want to miss it too much because i don’t want to forget to be here right now, knowing that when i am back i will miss being here and laugh at my own idiocy in being excited for homework and 8am classes. ha! could i know myself any better?
i don’t make new year’s resolutions, but i want to spend more time outside this semester, especially enjoying the lake. life is so short.
I woke feeling out of sorts today (until i saw this ridiculously awesome sunrise…). after a good dose of the internet and a sound nap I was feeling miles better. the kids each brought something in for show and tell and we all talked about our hobbies. it was a great way to practice speaking and its always interesting to see how these kids are different from American kids. they brought in everything from martial arts sparring poles, traditional calligraphy brushes, origami and handmade toys. sometimes it amazes me the children here can be so entirely similar and yet so completely different from American kids. their behavior is similar, in general. I understand them the same way that I understand American children and I can feel their moods and needs in the same ways but some of their behavior and basic life understanding is so different. when practicing foods none of them drew processed foods – they all drew fruits and veggies, many of them close to their source; like onions and cabbage with roots and dirt, cherries, grapes and bananas still attached at the stems. but their limited perspective on physical appearance as demonstrated through how stunned they were at the length of my neck and the “weird” shape of my head. they also tease me all of the time about my Korean pronunciation and proficiency in reading, but I think its important to maintain a relaxed relationship with them and give them a space to relax and just be kids – while speaking as much English as possible.
in general, I think I’m a doing a pretty decent job with the class although it does get chaotic at times. there are so many different levels that I find myself constantly juggling them and trying to accommodate everyone’s ability and needs. this is great for the students and a challenge for me.
my classroom prep table –
some of the kids, doing their awesome kid thing. i don’t believe in the standard ESL practice of assigning western names to my students, so it has been a fun challenge for me to learn their names – causing me to often be reprimanded for mispronounciation, especially when butchering cute little Jay-suk’s name…
Jay-suk and Byung-gwan –
Gi-tek, Ye-ji, Jay-suk, Byung-gwan, So-youn –
Gi-tek, Hyo-jung, Ye-ji, So-youn –
i love ’em.