Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's All About the Chocolate

This week was Valentine's Day, and here in Korea, it's celebrated very simply, with CHOCOLATE. And I am soooo OK with that! The women from my church congregation in Utah agree with this focus and hosted a "Death by Chocolate" night.  Everyone was to prepare some sort of chocolate desert or candy, or...knowing the skills of these women, I can't tell you how bummed I was to have missed it!! Now, it's true, the tradition here is for the girl to give chocolate to the boy...that's not so fine. But, I'm not so sure that anyone here in Sacheon pays too much attention to that particular tradition.  And as a teacher, one kid after another came up and demanded in English, "Give me chocolate." Not only is sharing chocolate extremely difficult for me to do, I'm unwilling to encourage these little aspiring leaders to behave like beggars or parasites.  Since I've become pretty great buddies with the ones who did the begging, I closed doors and said "go away" to all who used that particular phrasing. On the other hand, I handed out candy hearts and chocolate during class for a week; and to those students who gave me chocolate, I gave back more.   In further defense of my predicament, I teach ALL of the other Korean teachers' kids in my speaking class. Each Korean teacher has just over 40 little hungry birds who always like being fed, I have them all, which is over 200. 

Lotte is bigger than Hershey's or Nestle's here.  It's THE chocolate producing company in Korea.  This is a popular chocolate bar, and milk chocolate is much more popular than dark--just like it is in Utah.

Another candy bar I received was this Korean version of Nestle's Crunch, I believe. 
I love their Ghana Black Chocolate best.

Which is what I gave out, in small individual squares, along with Hershey's dark chocolate Kisses, (which cost a small fortune here--but I pay it willingly, because I'm an addict). Wish I could say that I still have most of what over a dozen students and fellow teachers popped into my room to share, but...  I saw a site that has guys downing 9-10 Ferrero Rocher chocolates in a minute.  Pretty sure I could top that. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Part 2, Future (because they're current) Leaders

"Tony" seems like a real goof. He is. He's also brilliant, fun and fun to be around. If he holds onto the combo, he'll be unstoppable!
Demonstrating the essence of loyalty, "Laura" and "Julie" show the world how to be best girl-friends. Both shy and sweet, they cling together and encourage each other with a tenacity that's inspiring. I have to share some background. When Laura first came to our school, I randomly seated her next to a problem student--"Huey." It was love at first sight. For him. Every week he reminded me to put her name tag next to his; and, in exchange for this arrangement, I got a reformed, well- behaved boy. I never knew how Laura felt about it; but, always smiling, she was too gentle and sweet to complain. Until Julie claimed her. It took Huey about a month to get over it. Ah, young love...
"Rosie" is a hornet when crossed. Her moods change as quickly and dramatically as desert storms come and go. I put her in the leader category because she leads. 2 new girls came into the class and Rosie claimed one for a friend. The new girl's super smart, so for awhile, Rosie was consistently more studious. However, Rosie could lead a gang war and I finally sent her out of the room for a shouting match she incited between the boys and girls. She's not forgiven me yet. I get a glower from her in the halls these days...
See the boy closest to the camera? I love "Nicolas!" Sure, it helps that he's brilliant, sparkly, funny, competitive and TINY. Short even among his peers, he's got a goliath spirit housed inside. Like Dustin Hoffman or Michael J. Fox, you notice this kid when he opens his mouth because he's always got something going on in that head of his. Always.
Katy caught my attention when she said "Tomorrow is Wednesday!" with a big smile, shortly after I started teaching. That's her day to come to speaking class. Do you have any idea what that did for me? Talk about a way to make someone remember you! She's in the super-smart category of kids, helpful and kind to all, comes in to play whenever she can, and swallowed "energizer bunny" batteries. These kids--all of them--are what light up each day.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Future Leaders, part 1

Meet "Jamie." She's in my Wednesday night essay writing class. I couldn't succeed in that class w/o her on my side. She understands more English than the rest of her classmates. She has an easy, relaxed smile and she's "gets" both me and her classmates. You want this girl to like you. She could run a corporation someday.
"Esther" is a free-spirited first grader. She's the smart, bubbly, dance-around-the-room type who'd fit in anywhere and nowhere. She dances to her own inner drumbeat (or hurdy gurdy--who knows?) and I could easily see her as the spirit of a 1960s flower child.
"Heidi's" no longer with us. I cried when her mom decided she needed to do something else (like maybe, stop paying for private school?). She's the one in front, wearing a yellow shirt. All 4 of these girls are leaders, but Heidi was the strongest and set a tone which has infected everyone who's come into the class since. I could see her as a dynamic social worker or a Leslie, from "Parks and Recreations" (only less manic). How I MISS HER!!
"Christine" is the director's daughter. She's gorgeous, strong-willed and, with a successful and motivated father wrapped around her little finger, I can't believe she won't turn some pages in history.
"Edwin" is the boy in the middle. An Oppie Taylor or Beaver Cleaver (if you don't remember those names--look 'em up!), he has a heart of gold and an a real zest for everything good in life.
"Ricky" and "Jeff." These 2 are both brainy and charismatic. Jeff has a younger brother who's just as smart as he is and Jeff is not only the smartest in class, he'll do anything for anyone. But he's highly competitive and neither he nor Ricky are push overs. They could start their own company or invent something...
Chris is the director's son. If cultural pressures don't break him first, he could become a great humanitarian, philosopher, or...while his handwriting is so bad I've returned some of his assignments un-graded, what he has to SAY is profoundly kind, wise, and unselfish.
Seldom does "Luke" wear this serious of an expression. He had a cold on the day I got this photo. He thinks for himself. When given the opportunity to color something anyway he choses, Santa's got a black moustache, red beard, black ringed eyes and smokes a cigarette; Rudolph has cow spots; and the Sun is pumpkin-colored with jagged teeth. He wants to be a teacher and I think he'd rock as a college professor.
To be continued...