Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chuseok, Korea's Thanksgiving

Today is Chuseok in Korea, or Thanksgiving. I'm not going to ineptly detail what you can more easily look up on your own. But this holiday is originally a Buddhist holiday, I believe, to celebrate the harvest and, more importantly, honor one's ancestors, without whom, no harvest is possible. It's a beautiful thing and I was lucky enough to snap this photo without the farmer noticing during one of my walks. The air is aromatically rich with the ripening scents of persimmons, rice and manure, of course--bleh!
I have an American friend who walks with me periodically who's heading back to Texas for the birth of her 2nd grandaughter. I understand her eagerness to leave. It'd kill me to be away for such an event! As it is, I'm quietly homesick for the company of my 27 yr. old son and the rest of my family. Some of my students had assignments to write about and draw their families recently and I had to snap some photos of my favorite renderings, of which this is one.
And, quoting from an adolescent girl's essay book, "My parent are most precious. My parents help me. When I grow up, my parents will help me." An 11 year old writes on the same topic of what is most precious: "Family is very precious. But, I is made from parents. Parents make a "we." Family is eternal...Do you love your family?" I've started saving some of these, to remind me of how lucky I am to be here meeting these developing youth in Korea, when I get too lonesome for my own family. I see teens walking around with their arms around parents and young fathers carrying toddlers on their shoulders. Sure, there are problems here, but there is love. In November, besides an important Presidential election, we'll celebrate Thanksgiving in America. Let's take the time to offer thanks for every form of harvest and honor our ancestors as well as the Creator, without Whom there would be nothing to celebrate!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kids and Lilies

Meet Jim, Joe and Bob (their English names for class). These 3 boys make me laugh out loud and remind me of how fun little guys are!! We were playing a game where in they take an eraser shaped like an egg in chopsticks and try to toss it into my bright green waste basket. This is an improvisation on the ever popular game of basketball, and the kids love it; I'm happy to say!
They have 2 chances of earning points: A.) get the answer right for the English sentence they pick up to complete and B.) hold onto it with chopsticks and get that bouncy egg into the basket. The noise levels in the room get pretty high, but all of the kids are willing to read aloud with this incentive! These three boys are among my favorites. I turned around and caught Jim and Joe making silly noises and faces with their tongues, grabbed my camera and they stopped looking worried about their behavior. Since the new teacher, (that would be me) got such a kick out of it, I was able to get a repeat performance that included Bob! Now, the girls can be just as silly, but capturing them on film is nigh unto impossible so far!
But, I did get real smiles out of Sunny (the one making the peace-out sign) and her BFF. Sunny is that little girl next door that everyone, I mean EVERYONE, adores. Her name suits her and she's definitely among my favs!
There are more, but this will have to do for now. Also, a friend from Maryland, who happens to be wrapping up a 2 year stint of teaching nearby, took me on a long, LONG walk yesterday to check out the English library (where I'm not allowed to check out books because I don't have the right job!!). On the way back, though, she took me through the lotus pool, with its wooden walkways over the water and huge leaves. It took my breath away!!
Seriously, I've never seen leaves that size and I've only spotted the pods in craft stores before!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Typhoons in Sacheon

So, obviously, I'm not going out to try to take pictures. I found this image on line from a recent typhoon and it pretty accurately depicts what I believe is going on out there. This is my 2nd typhoon, since arriving in Sacheon and in the time span of just a couple weeks. The last one got us to cancel school for a day (no small thing around here), but, at least where I live, it didn't get too terrible. Other, surrounding areas, weren't so lucky. I did see trees uprooted, afterwards and pushed over here and there with what appeared to be some malignantly playful finger of a giant. The rivers and canals were at least quadrupled in depth and rapidity of flow. It was quite exciting and I was grateful that, from what I could observe, none of the surrounding farmlands were seriously, or irreparably damaged. But I'm curious about what today will hold. The noise of the wind outside is such that I couldn't place the sound at first. There's more rainfall with this typhoon too and yet, we're still not w/o power, so I've decided to make a note of this while I can. Funny thing about these things is their unpredictability. Will there be sunshine this afternoon or will things get uglier? No idea. For now, I'm safely tucked inside my little home, boiling eggs for lunch later, sorting through lesson materials for the week and watching reruns of The West Wing with from an online source out of the UK, heaven bless them! For those of you who know me, I'm politically very conservative, but I LOVE this show and I adore C.J. Cregg!

Friday, September 14, 2012

This and that, plus the Open Markets of Sacheon

Today is a catch up day. I need to blog about something, but mostly just wanting to relax, do laundry, school prep, emails and grocery shop a bit. We're expecting another typhoon tomorrow and I've already been to the open market for veggies and fruit. I haven't taken any photos of Sacheon's open market yet, but here's one I found from near by that I copy pasted from the web. I LOVE open markets! They're so eclectic and real--I bought green onions from a tiny little old woman crouched on the ground. That's all she was selling, so I bought from her. I bought peaches by handing 5,000 won ($4 something in dollars) to a lady who hand picked 3 of her best for me. Busan Pictures
This photo of Busan is courtesy of TripAdvisor Now I need more milk and diet coke--because I DO. For that I'll go to the Woori Mart, because they have both. Last week I visited Samcheonpo via a short bus trip to shop at the Home Plus store and wander around their open seafood market. I promise not to blog exclusively about food. I'm being boring, I know--just tired. Generally I don't sleep enough and there are a couple of classes which are giving me some real headaches at work. Other than that, life is grand, the food is delectable and I'm continually astonished by how beautiful the parks and walkways are. Got lost after an extra long walk this week, tho, and I'll be using a little more caution in the future. The mountains and old villages are only appealing when you know where you ARE.
I ended up on the wrong side of these mountains a few days ago and 3 hours later, thanks to a kindly couple (it seems Everyone knows where Top Mart in Sacheon is!) I came home safe and sound. While I don't know how to get back there, I found yet another Buddhist temple and another river to mistakenly follow, trying to get back to my cozy domicile.
But all's well, I got here and have been shown a gorgeous park near by that I need to bring my camera for and any number of other really cool Buddhist temples, pagodas, stone pots, streets.... But scenery is only a part of my life. I've got a few favorite students I'd like to photograph and write about next week. Sandy (I'll use the English names they give themselves for class) is, by far, the most colorful. I could see her as an assertive journalist, lobbyist or social advocate. Tiny little dynamo! So, starting next week, I want to start making a list of "who's who" in my world of teaching in Sacheon at Jungchul Academy.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Korean Food

Did I mention that the director at my Jungchul Academy in Sacheon is a chef and that I've gone out to eat several times since I got here? Already I'm a huge fan of Korean food as a result of this! Also, I've met a fellow English teacher who lives only a few blocks away. She too is from Baltimore, MD! She's introduced me to open markets with their fish (living and dead), fresh vegetables and fruit, where I tasted my first veggie pancake called pajeon--YUM! The picture I found on the internet doesn't look like what we ate, but there you go. And I believe my first meal here in Sacheon with my co-workers was Bibimbap.
We eat lots of veggies and the way they spice their foods is going to make all other dishes taste bland to me, I'm afraid! Kimchi, in all its varieties, is served during every dinner at the school. I love it, so I've purchased some of the basic pepper powder from an open market near the sea today.
I know it doesn't look like much--it's a heavily spiced cabbage and/or radish dish which is marvelous with rice. Anyway-tonight I went out to eat with some new friends from my Church and we had some sort of duck cooked in front of us with all sorts of veggies and side dishes. After spending the day in an open market near the ocean, I just felt the need to applaud Korean foods. I could go on and on about it--so I won't. Just this: "Try it, you'll love it!"