Saturday, May 18, 2013

Imagine a Country with Family and Friends

We had a lesson on different countries, their flags and something each is famous for.  
Noticeably missing was any mention of KOREA!  
So, we wrote it in on the world map in their text books (made in Korea by Koreans, btw).  
The fun task for the lesson was to design an imaginary country's flag and write a couple notes about it.  "Elliot" created his imaginary flag to show a heightened awareness of, 
and appreciation for his own country.
"Harry" fell in love with the postcards of Utah mountains I passed around.  
But after I reminded him that Korea is full of mountains, covered with green trees, 
he designed his country's flag depicting what he loves here--green mountains and water.
"Stephanie," the sensitive dreamer, came up with this multi-colored deer chasing a star 
for her imaginary country's flag.
"Stella" knocked me out!  She is one heck of a pint-sized artist; her perceptive abilities left me in awe!!  With no way to understand that she was looking at a holy edifice, the Salt Lake City temple, Stella latched onto this postcard I passed around. She ignored everything and everyone 
and started drawing the city with amazing alacrity and accuracy.  
Within minutes she'd captured many of the essential details, then 
embellished with the cloud, cross, star and angels.  I must emphasize I never even
attempted to share what that part of the city means to members of our faith.  
She just drew what she felt and called it the country of angels and a star.  
Man, I love that kid!  She's such a little imp; ready to take on boys twice her size, laugh herself to death, or whine until I'm ready to slap her because she regrets a choice of flavor in a sucker.

"My most precious thing is the love my parents give me.  Parents' love is the not always counted as a most precious thing; but I love my parents.  Truly, the love they give me is a very, very, very precious thing.  It is most precious to me."  

"If I was a mother, I'd say to my children....your hands and face must always be clean, because your face is everything.  If people see your face, they know everything about you."  Also by this author, on what she'd say as a mother, '"I want you to succeed.  If you have a dream, you can do it!  You are the best.  I believe in you!"' I must believe in them, because he or she is my son or daughter.  I'll give love to them.  "Ah," I'll say; "your existence is very important."  I'll respect them.  But, I can't see them grow into spoilt children, so I'll discipline them, so they won't be."

"My mom is a good cook.  Her food is dainty.  I'm happy everyday because I have a good mom."
Most of my students write about loving family relationships in their diaries.  I see them walking arm in arm or holding hands with their moms, friends and sisters.  It's beautiful.  
Korea celebrates Parents' Day on May 8th, combining Mothers' and Fathers' day.  
The students who're close to their families reflect the good effects of that love in their classroom behavior.  They may get rowdy and silly, but never mean or hateful.  
The ones who do harbor anger issues, I wonder about.
One young, usually happy boy wrote, "My dad's hobby is hitting me."  
I laughed when I read what he wrote during class.
But he's written stuff like that more than once, so I wonder...

This entry from a sweet young girl's diary this week had me pondering and praying about her.
The theme of her diary entry was "What are your saddest and happiest times?"  She wrote:
"My saddest time is when my father is very angry, and picks things up and throws them in the house.  My mom has to pick up the pieces.  My mom cries, and so do my sister and me.  
Wow.  When my father doesn't throw things, I'm happy."  
Another girl, who speaks English well, was worried about her exams and kept saying in advance: "48 hours to live;"  then, "24 hours to live..." After receiving poor exam scores, I asked what would happen, since Korean kids don't repeat grades or get moved to a lower school or level over low test scores.  She was afraid to go home to her mom.  "She'll beat me."

But relationships are complicated...  

"My most precious thing is my family, my friends, and my puppy.  
My family is kind, but [also] very scary.  
But when I have a bad day, my family is sad and tears fall from their eyes.  
My friends are very kind and they don't have bad thinking, so I like them.  
My puppy is very cute.  So I feel I'm lucky."
Middle school girl, "Lisa," drew this--Love it!

For the diary topic, "If I were Invisible," most wrote about stealing, pranks, and even vengeance, but this 6th grader schemes of doing good deeds for others: "I'd bless my family and best friends with good things...I'd help with my mom's household matters, because I did some household chores one day.  It was very trying, so, I know mom's heart.  I want to help in my mom's household without her knowing.  I want my mom to be surprised and happy."  She also wrote that she'd follow her father when he goes outside to see if he goes out to smoke.  
If so, she'd find a way to break him of the habit 
because she's concerned for his health.

Finally, this one made me laugh and smile inside:  "If I were a mother I'd say to me children, "you must study!" because my mother says so too..."go to bed early!"  "Stop playing on the computer!"...because my mother says so too.  I'd say to my children, "I love you," because I'd love my children.  I'd say to my children, "Joanna teacher is a very, very good teacher!" 
because I love Joanna teacher!"  
I love her too!  

There's no real cohesion to this blog; I just love so many of these kids and wanted to quote and share some of what they created, wrote (edited for clarity) or said just this week. These expressions give me glimpses into what goes on in their lives, their minds and their hearts.
I cherish them.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Buddha's Birthday

Heads up--this blog has nothing to do with Buddha. 
I just haven't written for awhile--too much drama.  With the hurried, unorthodox trip to Utah, dealing with renter issues at home and..., well, I've just been too bogged down with coping emails to write for a blog.  It's not my style to journal here, tho I've no problem with those who do.  I figure everyone has traumatizing issues without adding mine to their reading list.  

Since today is a holiday, though, I have a free space to play catch up!

Korea continues to charm and enrich my artistic sensibilities, sating my curious appetite and love of all things eclectic. I tell my students I think it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, and mean it.  I'm trying to photograph and share a few favorites, like this lady.  She makes the best Kimchi Bokumbap around.  Erin Burk introduced me to this place and I've shared the tiny store's cuisine with a Korean and American friend recently, and my son, during his Christmas visit.  
She remembers me now, when I walk in!
The restaurant with the bold, tacky, bright red exterior is owned by friendly folk who make great Mandu and fresh Gimbap, along with all kinds of noodle dishes.  My friend, Erin Burk, introduced me to it right after I got here last year.  Erin, you should consider being a tour guide.
Isn't this fun?  It's on one of the busiest shopping streets near my home, 
but I took the photo early in the morning to get a clear view.  
Next you can see one of the entrances to Sacheon's open air market;
it's one of my favorite places to wander.  
See the blue arch?  I've posted photos from inside before.
 I buy fruit regularly from this little street side vendor, unless Top Mart or Woori Mart beat out his prices.  This guy's set up right near the bus terminal and sells steamed fish-stuff on a stick 
and sweet-bean bread things during winter.  
He keeps a pretty steady flow of customers; but I just like the fruit.
Like organized clutter?  Who doesn't on some level?!  Were it not so, Harry Potter movies wouldn't thrive!  Hardware stores around here fascinate me--they're stuffed full like this.  I always peer in as I pass, and need to venture in soon to replace a shower part.  Want to bring along the part to do the talking for me, but I also want to take my time and revel in the moment!  This isn't the store closest to my apartment, but with all of its wares exposed like this, it's a better illustration of the inner contents.
really and truly have always loved entrances to small, old alleys and hovels.  It's a life long love affair. I fumed with irritation as a devout Catholic kid of St. Peter's parochial school, because they hurried us along through tours of famous old cathedrals in Baltimore and DC.  I wanted to wander up every flight of stairs, kneel and light candles, peek into each nook dedicated to a saint. So, I'm trying to capture a few favorite glimpses into the life and worlds of semi-hidden, 
but every day sights around here, like this one.
Then there's this alley behind the modern building where my Church meets--these type of roads/walkways are woven throughout the city, in between and around the main, heavily trafficked roads.  They're surrounded by ancient, still-in-use structures, speaking to me of time gone by...sometimes I wander onto one of these, just to see where it goes, 
but trying not to intrude on anyone's privacy.
Mother's day was fulfilled by spending time with my kid (the one I gave birth to).  He is awesome and graduating from Boston University with an MFA in Screen Writing this week!! 
I've been bragging about him all week long to each of my classes. 
Since we both flew into Utah the same week, Jordan and I got to hang out.
I went for a job interview and he was a groomsman for a wedding.  Lovely serendipity, since at the conclusion of most days (in the wee hours of the morning), 
I got to hear about and watch him fall in love.  
Yeah, I can say that, since he posted it on Facebook.
The stunning girl with the orange sweater in the back and middle is Karli; Jordan, the lucky guy next to her, is my "kid."  The couple to their left were the bride and groom-to-be.  Slight change of plans, wedding was postponed for a few days. But Facebook confirms they tied the knot right after we both flew thousands of miles away.  Ha!  I know and love pretty much everyone in this photo and look forward to having another dinner party at my Utah home.