Sunday, June 30, 2013

Students and Scenery

We've had unseasonably heavy rains,  resulting in verdantly dense foliage and lush flowers (as you saw in earlier blogs), which out did themselves!  Perhaps they impacted this young artist.
In a recent lesson, we talked about the planet and they colored in this sketch at the end.  I invited the students to color it however they wished--create their own planet's colors and such, in keeping with the lesson's suggested activity.  This is one of my favorites. Notice Elin's recurring rainbow theme, including the one coming out of the mountain?  One of my boys, however, the quiet, soft-spoken type, created this:
Same assignment, but Evan created a world where a "devil hand" reaches out of a "black hole" in the sky; "Halloween monster trees" grow, and life forms include a "red killer whale" and a "death worm."  BUT, there's also a "watermelon tree" to sweeten the planet a bit.  Having grown up with 7 brothers, this world doesn't surprise me a bit!
Someone asked me a simple question regarding what I'll miss when I leave Korea.  I've been reflecting on that.  First and foremost, I'll miss so many of my students.  I try not to think about that too much, reminding myself that interesting, funny, and profound personalities are global, not area specific.  Duncan and Ron, here, have just made bracelets out of Bbeong tuigi (fun snack idea that occurred to me because this kind has holes in the middle).  Duncan, dude on your left, says in his English diary (edited a bit for legibility), "If I were President, I'd remove the academy (schools like mine) and tests [from students' lives].  I'd reduce taxes, but tighten laws on murder and abuse.  I will be a president loved by many people."  Ron, right next to him, enjoys coming to our school and his mom just bought all of the teachers at our academy pizza!  Sarah writes, "I like you so much, Joanna teacher, because you are kind and play games!!  I like Tuesday, because I study with you.  Thank you, Joanna!!"  Stuff like that...I live for and I'll miss.  There are students who absolutely melt my heart, including Duncan, who says he'd shut down the school if he could!
Lynn, who I've included in this blog before, writes, "My favorite subjects are Korean, English, history and social studies.  Korean is very easy, I think.  I understand it.  I can learn it very easily.  I like to study language. It's very fun and I use it.  So, I like English, too.  I like social studies.  It's interesting, but Korea's history is very poor, I think.  I feel really angry, sad, and depressed [about it].  I think Korean history would be longer if war had not happened.  I hope so.  In fact, I like all subjects.  It was hard to choose."  Oh, Lynn--I love this girl!  In my comment section, I simply encouraged her to use that brain of hers to build a bright future for Korea!
There are students like Mary, who are happy pretty much ALL THE TIME!  She comes in early, hands out everyone's name tags and is enthusiastically engaged and engaging--not unlike a Golden Retriever.  She bounces in and stays up beat all through class, then bounces out with a promise to "see [me] next week!"  Donna is a quieter, but equally optimistic, source of happiness everytime she's in my class; and her inner peace manifests in her English diary.  "I like spring best," she writes.  "Spring is warm and flowers blossom.  I like flowers.  I like cherry [blossom] flowers best.  I like spring because spring is not so hot or too cold, but it's warm.  So, I like Spring.  PS: Do you like spring, teacher Joanna?"  Yes, I wrote, I do!  I also love summer!  I took this photo last week, looking back from a morning walk up a favorite mountain with Sherry Anderson.  Wish EVERYONE could see spring and summer here!
Christina, from Olivia teacher's class did a fun diary on being an "Invisible Human," with comments about eating all the ice cream she wants and finished by creating this fantastic cartoon to illustrate her point.  See the light pencil sketch?  It would be liberating to be invisible once in awhile!  Again, I encourage the students who like to draw to use that medium in their diaries and fill in the ideas they don't know how to express yet in English, rather than just dismiss the thoughts entirely!
There are longer diary entries that my students make, which I frequently photocopy.  Who knows why, but when they say particularly amusing or insightful things, I want to remember them.  Sophie went on a rant about the problems of the increasing popularity of fast food consumption and its link to health problems, especially childhood obesity.  She doesn't unilaterally condemn fast food, however, which I respect. "The problem is," she writes, "people eat fast food too much.  Especially when children eat fast food too much, they're in more danger than adults.  They're still young, but they can get adult diseases.  Children's corpulence prevention (her choice of words, btw) is a hot topic on the news...From now on, people should only eat a suitable amount of fast food."
Ok, it's getting late.  Took a nice long bike ride with a Korean friend after church today, and I need to get ready for Monday.  But, first, last and always, the kids I work with and the scenery which surrounds me, these are the things I love most and will miss when I leave.  Took this last photo on Saturday, at the top of a mountain trail I've wanted to figure out since I got here and finally found!  But, I don't intend on not coming back.  Nope.  I'll be back to walk these paths, when I come back to promote my children's books and music.  Sacheon will always be Korea for me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's June!

It's June and everything, everywhere that grows is green, which means muggy humidity 
and life is bustin' out all over!  I've never seen and heard so many frogs!  The little lily pond up by this, the Kuk Koan temple (a favorite--Sherry Anderson and I hike here; and I went with Jordan at Christmas) is full of these, with red underbellies.  Fun!!!
It's Fathers' Day too, so, let's go for a walk.
As we leave my place (my apartments are just a bit behind these), within a minute or two, we're surrounded by fields of newly planted rice, alongside ready-to-harvest wheat.
Recent rains and heavy winds were hard on more than umbrellas.  These areas of flattened out crops seem to have been visited by a malevolent giant hand.  Farming is not for the faint-hearted.  They're out there day in and day out.  Eventually, their bodies bend and form to the tasks.
 Representative of good and caring parents through out time, they are part of the earth.  
In a world made up of givers and takers,  
with most of us somewhere in between, 
these farmers only give.  
Moving on.  
Tiny wild flowers add a faerie-like shimmer to fields and under green orchards.  Gardens spring up on every plantable patch of land.  Old villages are infused a diverse riot of vegetation, bees, butterflies, tiny birds and graceful, large water fowl (they're too timid to allow themselves to be photographed decently with a simple camera like mine) have returned. 
 Hollyhocks reign over the landscape in June.
  Along with an effusion of those tiny daisy-type flowers, they brighten up gardens.
Turn ordinary pathways into Gallery walks.
Create gorgeous curtains, borders, and a magnificent entrance for this 
already attractive gazebo by the mountainside.
Hollyhocks stand up beside and celebrate crumbly old rock and cement domiciles and walls.  
Why can't humans join together like this--the old with the new? 
We used to.  Hollyhocks and foliage of all kinds remind us we still should.
Old supports and sustains the new and youth livens up old-age.  
YES.  Flowers, are gorgeous in and of themselves.  
But, they need the support and nourishment which only age and experience can provide.
This ancient canal consistently carries fresh water to every form of life; 
and that old rock wall is as functional as it is beautiful.
Flowers are planted in between rocks.
Most of the oldest village buildings possess no natural beauty or architectural wonder in and of themselves.  Yet, covered with shade-loving vines and the like, they're breathtaking!
Moss and surrounding vegetation, transforms this crumbling, rotting old storage shed.  It, in turn, provides shade, support and nourishment year after returning year for countless form of new life.  
We could frame this and hang it up to admire and remember.
We decorated and shared cupcakes last week in our women's Relief Society activity after church.  
We say thank you to all those strong, dedicated and loving men who provide support 
and make life possible.  God bless you all!  
Now go out and enjoy this June, whatever season of life you're in!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Veggies and Summer
They don't do it by hand anymore, rice planting.  I found a couple of videos on Youtube. The first is from Korea and this 2nd, w/the catchy little tune, is from Japan (you can tell bc. the mountains aren't as tall), as is the image above.  But, I've watched this process all around here in Sacheon.
It's pretty fun to watch, both in the video and in real life!  I guess the fields without water that I thought were for rice, were for wheat.  
So, according to my friend, Kim Soon Ii, farming is becoming a life-style choice by many retiring 50-60 year old Koreans.  You see old folks out from dawn to dusk around here, planting every type of crop, on any little available plot of land.  The old and bent, along with the newly retired--I love it!  This is a photo I posted on facebook from the first day I went to help Kim Soon Ii with her small orchard/garden.  I'm only good for a couple of hours of this.  It's GORGEOUS  up where she has her plot of land.  So green, with a huge lake.
Kim Soon Ii wants to be a farmer fulltime too.  She teaches piano lessons everyday, though, and then squeezes this farming-goal in and employs whoever is willing to help out.  I adore this woman and admire her immensely!  Luckily, she speaks just enough English and, with gestures, we manage to communicate.  Both of us go it alone.  She's a divorced mom and has a great son, as do I.  That's pretty rare in Korea--being divorced.  So, despite our communication obstacles, I feel like we're soul mates.  I pick and weed and she sends me home w/lots of sangchu (lettuce leaves) and buchu (small green onions).
She got the idea that I love this spicy stuff bc. I experimented and rolled it up w/multigrain rice in seaweed for part of our after church light meal once.  That's how I cook--try and see.  It's great in buchujeon, which I can't tell apart from pajeon, that Korean pancake made with flour, oil and veggies.
Also, I've started cooking multi-grain rice and/or brown rice more at home (thanks to the internet, I can succeed w/o buying a rice cooker!) and adding stuff to it.  This practice is NOT acceptably Korean or Japanese.  But, I add buchu to the rice while it's cooking, then stir in Korean curry powder and other veggies and egg whites, for protein (adding tofu next time--hate the taste, unless it's w/other flavors)
해초 (or haecho: seaweed) and/or lettuce rolled around it, makes it a veggie meal.  It's so yummy!
This month at JC Academy, one of the subjects some of my 13 yr. old students learned, wrote up, illustrated and then recited for the Speaking Presentation on Friday, were vegetables.  So, let's end w/some of their creations.
Diana's is sweet and she's a dream student in many, many ways.  I LOVE her happy veggies!  Here's another happy collection of vegetables w/faces, mixed in w/how her family members feel about each.
Then we have a war of vegetables by Evan.  Notice the potato threatening to take the grater to the broccoli, and the mushroom and bell pepper running up to watch?  Boys!  Funny, Evan is such a polite young man.
Here's Daniel's (another quiet, respectful kid) artwork--again, one of the veggies is torturing the other.  Notice the potato and pumpkin?  Luckily, raised w/seven brothers, none of this disturbs me--it fact I laugh out loud and the boys are well pleased by my appreciation.
So, eat your veggies and enjoy the early, most lovely part, of summer!  
I love summer, w/all it's heat, because that's when things grow!