Monthly Archives: February 2007

>What is This? The Year of the Jerk?

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So, it was just the Lunar New Year. We are out of the Year of the Dog and into the Year of the Pig. I was happy to have a day off.  I had put together a story to explain to the kids about the animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac. I got the information from Wikipedia and dumbed it down for them.  Here it is.
Happy New Year

A long time ago, the Jade Emperor decided to name each year after an animal to help people remember what year it was. When the animals heard his idea, they began arguing which animal should be named first. To end their fighting, the Jade Emperor announced there would be a race to determine the order the animals would appear. All the animals would have to race across the river and report to him.
The cat and the rat were good friends. They were very smart, but very bad swimmers. They decided to cross the river on the back of the ox. The ox, being naive and good-natured, agreed to carry them. Halfway across, the crafty rat pushed the cat into the river. When the ox reached the shore the rat jumped off the ox’s head and claimed first place. The friendly ox was second.  The cat was missing.
The third animal to cross was the powerful tiger, who swam his best in the strong currents. Closely behind came the rabbit, who had hopped quickly from stone to stone in the river. Halfway though the stones disappeared, but luckily for the rabbit a log floated by that carried him to the finish line.
The dragon arrived in fifth place. The Emperor didn’t understand why such a powerful and flying animal did not finish first. The mighty dragon explained that he was not first because during the race he had to stop and make rain for all the people and creatures on earth. Then on the way to the finish line he saw a rabbit lost on a log in the middle of the river. So he did a good deed and blew the log to shore. That was why he was so late.

As soon as the dragon finished his story, the horse galloped up. As he did so, the sneaky snake slithered out of the horse’s hoof where he had been hiding.  This scared the horse so much it fell back, giving the snake the sixth spot. The poor horse had to be satisfied with seventh.
Shortly after that, the ram, monkey, and rooster came together on a raft that the rooster had spotted. The rooster shared his find with the ram and monkey who steered the raft and cleared the weeds.  Because they worked so well together, the Emperor named the ram eighth, the monkey ninth, and the rooster tenth.
Then the dog finally showed up.  He was a good swimmer but was having so much fun playing in the water he almost forgot about the race. The lazy pig became hungry during the race, so he ate a feast and then fell asleep. The Emperor was about to say the race was over when the pig finally showed up.
The poor cat had been swept so far down the river that by the time he walked back to the finish line, the race had been over for days and everyone had gone home. The cat was so angry that he promised to hate the rat forever.
The End

Nerding it Up with Kimchi on the Ice Planet Hoth

 
Or maybe it was in the Coex Mall with John. At any rate, this blog entry should catch me up nicely. If the last 18 entries are riddled with grammatical mistakes and spelling errors, it is because I’m just trying to pound them out. Now I have to upload photos and videos. BLEH!
 
On Saturday, I went with John to the StarWars exibition at the Coex Mall. If it had been in Canada or with anyone else, I think I would have bitched about paying $13 to get in (who charges $13 for something??) and how bad it sucked. But because we were in Korea and I went with Detective Random it was great fun.  I got to take my picture with a storm trooper.
The coolest thing was this… tube.  This spinning tube.  We went through twice before deciding to go to the dark side.  It made John say the word "trippy" which made me giggle. (If the embeding doesn’t work, you can see the tube here)
 
After the exibition we went to O’Kims for a burger (with a DILL pickle – it was amazing!) and some tasty microbrew, John and I hit the kimchi museum.  It was definitely worth the $3 we paid to get in.

 

Dropping Bombs

 
Either the kids have been particularly funny lately or I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Here are a few stories from the archives.
 
Walking on Water
 
We were doing a story in our reading book about bugs. Harmless, right?  How on earth could we possibly end up in a theological debate during a story about BUGS?  Well, when you teach smart-asses, you get smart-ass answers.
 
One of the bugs pictured was a water-skeeter.  Or at least, we always called it a water-skeeter*.  You know, those bugs that look like spiders, but are not spiders, that walk on water?  Well, there was a picture of one. And I asked what it could do that was special. Blank looks. So I prompt them, "Can many bugs walk on water?"  "No, Teacher."  "Can PEOPLE walk on water?"  "No, Teacher."  "Well, what can this bug do that is special?"
 
Before anyone could answer, sweet little Esther pipes up and says, "Christ could walk on water."  Aw, shit. But before I could even think to answer her, Jason inquires incredulously, "What?  Chris in Sal-Teacher’s class??"
 
I’m trying so hard not to laugh at this point. Chris, aka "The Mad Pooper", could never walk on water. That fat little bugger can barely walk around the hallways without going through something. I try to correct Jason by saying, "No, not CHRIS.  CHRIST. Jesus CHRIST."
 
More blank looks. Idiots. So I ask Esther how to say "Jesus" in Korean. She complies. More blank looks. And now the questions are coming about how Jesus was able to walk on water. And why.  Esther proclaims, "because he is the son of God".  Crapsticks!  Now I’m trying to explain that SOME people believe that, and what a miracle is, and… and … and I’m getting no where. So I finally go into the staff room and ask Janet-Teacher to explain to the children who Jesus was, what he did, and why he could do it.  She was visibly confused and asked, "What are you teaching them?"
To which I answered, "I’m teaching them about fucking BUGS!!"
 
Canadian Bias
 
So, sometimes when I’m teaching the kids, I may be a little harsh on the Americans. It may be a trifle telling that I am capable of saying "I am NOT American" in Korean.  But I can’t help myself. The American government has been up to a few dumb-ass things lately. And I’m sick of teaching American spelling. It seems… lazy.  No "u" in anything.  Retards.  And the way they spell doughnut – don’t get me started.  Where was I?  Oh yes, America-bashing.  So, one of the new teachers (who seems quite nice) is American. And she’s observing my Debate Class. This is a class where we have discussed the real reasons why America started the war in the Middle East. So now I’m dreading one of the kids saying something about Americans. Well, at one point, it did come up that Americans are sometimes up to no good. And to Brandy’s (that’s the teacher) credit, she said that Americans can, sometimes, be bad guys.
 
One of the girls in that class is Gina, my little poet.  And she mentioned on Friday (when we were not being observed) that she felt as though we had hurt Brandy-Teacher’s feelings when we talked about the bad things Americans had done. So we had a discussion about how even though we may not like what some Americans do, it is not fair to think of ALL Americans in the same way (I reminded them how kick-ass Joe-Teacher had been) and they agreed. We discussed and defined "prejudiced" (they may only be 10, but they rule).  At the end of the discussion Gina concluded by saying, "Teacher, I don’t hate Americans. I just hate their stupid president."
Atta girl, Gina!  Atta girl!
 
Dropping Bombs
 
I have always been the first to admit that I don’t always teach the kids what they are supposed to be learning. But I like to think that I do teach them certain things that may serve them well if they ever actually go to an English-speaking country.
 
I now have just four girls in my debate class – Gina, Jessica, Sarah, and Chris. They are very cool and extremely smart. It is a fun class and I enjoy it.
 
Last week, about 15 minutes before the bell rang, Gina turned to Jessica and said, "Did you ‘bahm’"?  Jessica replied, "No, why?"  To which Gina said, "Well, I heard something and now I smell something.  You are sitting right there."
 
They said all this very calmly and like adults. I’m at the other side of the table trying not to pee my pants laughing. I can be very mature at times, but at other times… well, look. I can’t help it. Farts are fucking funny.  And then I realize that Gina used a Korea word for fart.  So very calmly (on the outside, good thing I took acting in university) I ask Gina, "Do you not know how to say what you said in English?"
They didn’t. So I gave them the word "fart".  They all wrote it down (they are good students).  Jessica is very good at making sure she fully understands everything, so she asked a follow-up question.  "Teacher," she began, "so, if my dad does this, should I say to him, ‘Father, did you do a fart?’"
It is taking every ounce of will-power I have not to start crying with laughter at this point.  I gently correct her, "No, Jessica. You do not ‘do’ a fart.  It is usually used as a verb, although it can be a noun – Do you smell a fart? – or an adjective – You little fart.  So the proper usage would be: I fart, you fart, he, she, or it farts, they fart, we fart."
Then I thought about it a bit and realized the following truth which I shared with the girls (who are taking notes), "Although we rarely use "to fart" in the present tense. It is usually past tense as we talk about it after the fart has taken place.  So, in actual fact, you would say: I farted, you farted, he, she or it farted, they farted, we farted.  Rarely do you use it in future tense, and then you would say it only about your self and as a warning, ‘I am going to fart.’"
 
This grammar "lesson" had now deteriorated to a point even beyond the water skeeter lesson for sheer ridiculousness. But I forged ahead.  I asked if they had more than one word for "fart" in Korean. They do. They asked if we did.  I said we did. I gave them the more "proper" term "flatulence" (which finally made them giggle).  I also explained that "fart" was a slang word and that there were many others. I decided we had time enough to learn one more.
 
Dropping bombs.
 
I explained the usage – if you smell a fart and don’t know who did it:  "Who’s dropping bombs in here?"  Or if you want to lay blame on someone specific: "Are you dropping bombs?"
 
The kids don’t always understand that there may not be a direct meaning for an English saying, but they were into dissecting this one.  So I was trying to explain why we used "dropping bombs" and I didn’t think it was going well until Jessica asked the other girls, "How do you say (insert Korean word here) in English?"  and Gina replied, "poison" that I realized they were getting it after all. They decided that the "bombs" in question must, in fact, be "poisonous gas bombs".
They spent the rest of the class practicing the right intonation for their new vocabulary and waving their hands in front of their faces in a disgusted manner. I love them!
 
*for those of you too lazy to check out the wikipedia entry, you may be interested to know that the bug’s real name is "water strider". On a related note, the bug has many nicknames… one of which is "Jesus Bug". True story.

The Little Monsters are Growing on Me

 
On Tuesday we will have a Graduation Ceremony for the seven-year-old kindergarten kids. They will officially be finished kindergarten and become "big kids".  They will get blue bags. I won’t get to see them every day anymore. Ryan and Ryan are leaving LCI and I won’t get to see them anymore, period.  And I thought I would be okay with this. I think I’m going to be a wreck.
 
Far be it from me to admit to any weaknesses, I broke down just writing the speach I have to give. Much as I hate to admit it, I really do love the wee buggers and I’m going to miss them a lot.  Damn them! Damn them all!
Here’s the speach. I can be a sappy dillhole if I need to be. The scary part is that I really mean this shite.
 
I have always joked that we are a class of monkeys, but on the Lunar New Year I learned that my students are actually all Dragons, same as I.  Dragons are said to be strong, powerful, enthusiastic, confident, energetic, and intelligent. This description certainly fits each of the children I have been fortunate enough to teach this year.
 
Alice came to our class partway through the year. At first, I was worried that she may not fit into our close-knit group. But Alice is so kind-hearted, sweet, and generous, she quickly became good friends with everyone. Alice is very intelligent and will do very well all through her life.
 
Esther is extremely fair and always makes sure that everyone is playing together nicely. She has a very strong understanding of the English language and often used it to make us all laugh. Esther is very curious and always asked very good questions to further her understanding of things.
 
Jason has a great memory for vocabulary and would often surprise me with the words he would remember. He is very good at doing word searches and would always help others finish their puzzles. Jason often surprised his friends with special treats.
 
Jenny always does her best. She takes so much pride in what she does and I know that Jenny will succeed in whatever she decides to do. I would not be surprised to find out one day that Jenny was president of all of Korea.
 
When I first met Jessica, I was worried how such a sweet, tiny girl would do in a strong and outgoing class. Don’t let Jessica’s looks fool you – she is a strong, intelligent girl who will be able to shine in any group. I know she will be successful not only in elementary school, but throughout her entire life.
 
I’m so happy that Kate came to LCI last March. She has been a star in our class. She is very well-behaved and always does her best job. Kate is always a good friend to everyone. Kate’s generous nature and beautiful smile have been so nice to see each morning.
 
Monica is witty, creative, and outgoing. She has made coming to LCI each day so enjoyable. For me, hearing Monica laugh is like seeing the sun shine after a week of rain. If I ever have a daughter, I can only hope that she would be just like Monica and then I would be the luckiest mother in the world.
 
When I first came to Korea in August 2005, I started teaching a six-year-old class. Rena and Ryan Kim were in that class. I remember when they were just learning to read two-letter syllables such as ba, ka, da. Now they are both strong readers and I am continuously amazed by their achievement. I am so proud of them both and I am so happy that I have been their teacher long enough to see them grow and improve so much!
 
Rena has always been a kind friend to everyone in our class and a hard worker.  She is very sweet and likes helping her friends.
 
Ryan Kim works so hard to do all his work as accurately as possible. He has changed and grown so much that I can’t believe he is the same little boy I met just eighteen months ago.
 
Last, but certainly not least, Ryan Shin, my little Magoo.  Ryan is outgoing and energetic. He learns so quickly and is able to use English creatively. He loves to talk and is an excellent speaker. Ryan gives the best hugs ever.
 
I have felt truly blessed and privileged to have taught your children. I can’t imagine there has ever been, or will ever be, a class as wonderful as these guys.
 
I hope as they grow that somehow each of these children will be able to remember me and the small part I hope I have played in their growth. I promise you that I will never forget them.  They have taught me so much about myself and the world around me. I love each and every one of them with all my heart and I’m so proud of them today.  Thank you so much for allowing me to teach them.

My Wee Wonderwalls

 
Here is a video of my kids singing Wonderwall. It makes me SO happy when they just randomly start singing it. Last Friday I started teaching them Rhinestone Cowboy. Sometimes being a teacher is so fun and rewarding! If the video doesn’t show, you can watch it on YouTube. If you want.)
 
 

Bye Brittstick!

 
This has been long overdue, but I usually deal with things I don’t like by pretending that they aren’t happening.  Like friends leaving the country.
 
Brittany is home safe in Maine, which is great for her but not cool for me.  I miss you lots, Brittstick!
 
I also think the world needs to know that Brittany’s last word in Korea was "Scrotum".  How could you not love her to death??
 
 

Fire Dragon

 
In honour of the Lunar New Year, I found some more information about being a fire dragon. Only the good parts sound like me. Obviously.
 
The most righteous, outgoing and competitive of all Dragons, the Fire Dragon will expect a lot from everyone. But while he may be demanding and aggressive, he is also blessed with enormous energy and has a lot to offer in return. The trouble is that he may go around with an air of superiority plus authority and make people fear or shy away from him. His leadership qualities are often marred by his desire to be treated like the Messiah. Fire matched with his forceful lunar sign will give him overzealous and dictatorial inclinations. He pushes too hard even where there is little resistance.

In reality, he is an open and humane person given to impartiality and uncovering the truth at all costs. His criticisms are objective and he has the power to arouse the masses with his vibrant personality. A natural empire builder, he will look toward the supreme order of things, with himself at the helm, of course.

Because the Fire Dragon is often enveloped by insatiable personal ambition, he is short-tempered, inconsiderate and unable to put up with anything less than perfection. He also overgeneralizes or jumps to conclusions, frequently lumping people into categories without allowing for or even perceiving their individual differences.

Nonetheless, here is a performer of the highest degree who could easily be a source of inspiration to his fellowman and a personality who will catch the public eye – when he learns to master his negative traits and communicate more humbly with others.

I'll Crime YOU!

 
Here’s one from Lord Ameliar’s class:
 
 
"Also, in Texas a crimer must phone people that who’ll be crimed and say ‘I’ll crime you!’
 
Gold. Pure gold.

This is Just to Say

 
If Gina keeps this up, she is going to become my favourite student.  They were given the assignment "to write anything", a poem, a story, an essay, as long as it had the title "This is Just to Say".  Gina, a girl after my own heart, wrote a poem because it was the shortest. And it rules…
 
 
This is Just to Say
 
Sorry,
I forgot my
homework
 
Sorry,
but I can’t
go and get it
 
Sorry,
this is just
to say

Friday's Feast

 
I hate seeing two feasts back to back because it means that I haven’t been blogging. And I actually have a lot to throw in my blog, but I’ve been pretty busy and/or lazy every night of this week. I’ve also been sleeping (I know! I know!) so going to bed has been a priority over typing nonsense into the computer.  I hope to get some blogging done over the next few weeks and catch up a bit.
 
Appetizer
Where on your body do you have a scar, and what caused it?
 
A scar?? One?? Who on Earth only has one freaking scar?? Okay, maybe I’m clumsy.  I have a few scars, but I think that there are two good ones (good as in strange, not good as in large). 
 
The first I got when I was 11 or 12.  I was staying at my dad’s house for a couple of weeks in the summer. He lived out in the country on several acres of land.  I was playing tag with my brother and two step-brothers.  We had ran into the woods across the street. Where we entered the woods, there had been no fence.  We ran further up the road and I tried to run back out of the woods.  That’s where the fence was still standing. The barbed-wire fence. It was dusk. I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I never saw the fence and ran into it at full speed. I hit it hard enough that I remember being thrown back and hitting my head on the log I had jumped over.  I didn’t even realize that the fence had cut me up pretty bad. But my head hurt so I headed home.  Once I was inside, we realized that I was cut up all down the right side of my body on my chest, arm, and leg.  None of the cuts were very bad (although the one on the middle my chest did leave a scar).  However, I had also cut open right under my left eye and required stitches.  It was deep enough that not only do I have a scar on my face, I have a scar on my eyeball.  True story.  I also remember that day because my dad was pretty worked up.  He ran the one red light in town and then broke some of the doctor’s equipment trying to make me laugh.  He was also worried about what moms would say when she got me back with a cut-up black eye and cuts all down my body.  I would have been worried too!
 
The other scar is a small pressure-cut on my left hand that I got when I was installing a CD-burner into Holly & Pam’s parents’ computer. I call it my "Nerd Scar".  Does anyone else have a scar from installing computer equipment?  Holy macaroni, I’m a geek sometimes!

Soup
What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle?

 
Einstein said that either everything is a miracle, or else nothing is. I believe that everything is.

Salad
Name a television personality who really gets on your nerves.

 
It would be faster to name TV personalities that DON’T get on my nerves. Because most of them do. Which would be why I don’t watch the damned thing. I actually finally unplugged it and threw it in the other room.

Main Course
What was a funny word you said as a child (such as "pasketti" for "spaghetti")?

 
I said "nakin" instead of "napkin" and "acopolypse" instead of "apocolypse".  I remember that my brother Brian was very young he used to say "hopistal" and eventually we would all be laughing and saying "hopistal" while we tried to get him to say it properly.

Dessert
Fill in the blank: I have always thought ______ was ______.

 
I have always thought liver was actually bad for you.