Category: Camp Fulbright

My life on fast-forward

Well I know it’s been over a week since I last wrote in my blog, but never fear, I have not forgotten about you!!  It is probably not an exaggeration to say that I tried to sit down and write an update at least once a day, but there simply is not enough of me to go around :(.  Before this week, I did not think that it was humanly possible to be as busy as I was – or as exhausted.  I suppose it’s good – it certainly keeps me from being bored.  It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve already been here a month – my life feels like it’s on fast-forward!!  But I got to rest today, and I’m not nearly as exhausted, so let me tell you all about it!! 🙂

I’m now three times as experienced a teacher as I was when I last wrote.  I have now taught a grand total of…are you ready??….THREE lessons all by myself!!  My second lesson was pretty interesting.  The theme of the day was “Heroes in our lives,” so I decided to use it as an excuse to talk about 2 things that I love – homeschooling and my mom.  The hero in my life that I talked about was my mom, because she taught me all the way up until college, so I got to talk about both my mom AND homeschooling.  It was so much fun!  I had the kids create a mini lesson plan, and brainstorm together and have a debate about the pros and cons of homeschooling, and we played games, and it was a blast.  My third lesson was a team lesson – I worked with another ETA to teach about world heroes.  It also went really well, and I’ve basically decided that I LOVE teaching ESL :D.

I’ve finally regained my energy from this past weekend – a week later.  On Saturday I went on a hike up a famous Korean mountain called Songnisan with about 40 other ETAs.  We all split up into different groups and just explored the mountain for the day.  A few groups took a wrong turn and ended up going down the other aide of the mountain, and they had to take a 30 minute taxi ride back to our side of the base of the mountain.  Oh, I also had my first victory against the Korean language!!  I ordered a meal all by myself after the hike – I said hello, and ordered, and asked how much it was (and understood well enough to give exact change!!), and said thank you.  It was very exciting – I was so proud of myself :D.

Dan and Sarah in front of a giant Buddha at Songnisan
Korean ice cream – my watermelon shaped ice cream was complete with seeds and everything =/

The mountain was legit….
…but the view at the top was worth it!! 🙂

I love those kids…

On Sunday, we had activity weekend!  Every ETA had to help participate in 1 weekend activity for Camp Fulbright.  I volunteered to help plan the Sunday morning activity – Superhero Training Academy!  We had 6 different stations, and at each station the kids learned a different skill that they would need to be a superhero – strength, agility, disguise, etc.  It was alot of fun, but the activities were divided between rooms that were separated by 2 floors, and because I was running the event, I was constantly running up and down the stairs in between the two rooms.  I probably ran up and down then 30 or 40 times in the spans of 2 hours.  So between that on Sunday, and Songnisan on Saturday, I was pretty wiped out.  I’ve also been sick the past few days – raging fever, horrible chills, headaches, nausea, the whole shebang – so I’m sure that did nothing to make me less tired.  But don’t worry, I’m doing much better now :).

The Web – because every Superhero has to be able to beat the laser webs!! 🙂

Our “villains” who were roaming around the stations 😀

The whole gang.  It was a blast 🙂

I can’t decide if I look important or silly with my megaphone….

It’s probably also taken me longer to get over my exhaustion because I’ve been getting up much earlier than I was used to doing.  While at Songnisan, I hung out all day with 2 people from orientation, Sarah and Dan, and we really bonded a lot.  Well, ever since then, Sarah and I have been getting up before breakfast and having a Bible study together outside (I expect that her name will come up alot in future blogs, both in this one and my other one,  It’s been so nice to have someone to confide in, and share my struggles with, and pray with.  This past weekend was pretty exhausting, both physically and emotionally, and having a friend nearby was exactly what I needed.  I love that God always sends us exactly what we need when we need it :).  

So yeah, Camp Fulbright and Korean classes and getting to know the Lord more and being a good friend and various other sundry things have definitely kept me busy this past week.  There was a trip with some other ETAs planned for the weekend, but I decided to stay in Goesan and relax.  Sarah and I planned a movie night for Saturday night, and about a dozen people came.  We went into town and bought popcorn and snacks and drinks beforehand, and it was alot of fun.  We didn’t really plan much in advance, so I was quite please with the attendance.  It was really nice to just have a chill night hanging out with friends, not worrying about lesson planning or event planning or studying Korean (although that’s #1 on my to-do list for tomorrow!!).

Oh, one last thing before I call it a night!!  I know this blog is all over the place, and I apologize for adding to the randomness, but this is important!!  I now know where I’ll be teaching for the next year!!  The placement ceremony was on Thursday night – it was a very exciting, emotional evening.  I’ve been assigned to an all-girls private high school in 경주 (Gyeongju).  I didn’t get anything that I requested – I asked for a co-ed middle school or vocational school with easy access to transportation lines, and I’m in an all girl’s high school – I shudder to think of all that estrogen!! 🙂 –  about an hour away from a major transportation hub.  But you know what?  I’m ok with that.  I have a feeling that Gyeongju could be even better than what I was hoping for, even though it wasn’t what I though I wanted.  Doesn’t God have a funny way of surprising us like that? 🙂  Gyeongju is the most historical city in all of Korea – it’s known as “the museum without walls” – it also has a brand-new (as of this year!) stop on the KTX line (Korea’s bullet train that services most big cities), a girl from the Fulbright Bible study was assigned to the adjacent middle school, and basically I’m just pumped to see what God will do in my life this year.  I have to make the most of my time with Sarah now, though, because she was placed almost as far away from me as possible – 9 kilometers from the DMZ :(. 

Anyway, that’s all for now….it’s bedtime on the other side of the world!!  If you want to know more about Gyeongju, here’s a tourist link for the city:

Sending my love, as always,

Teaching and learning

Camp Fulbright is in full swing.  It started 5 days ago, and ever since then Jungwon’s campus has been inundated with hundreds of excited little Korean children.  It’s been fun, but it’s also reinforced my opinion that I’m not really in Korea – even when I’m surrounded by Koreans, I’m still speaking English to all of them.  It’s very strange to me….

But I’ve been staying super busy.  I volunteered to run a weekend activity this Sunday, so I’ve had meetings for that every night this week.  I also taught for the first time today!!  It was soooo much fun!!  My class’s level was high intermediate, so they could handle more discussion and in-depth lessons.  So I decided to challenge them.  The theme of the day was literary heroes, so I wrote a lesson around the idea of hyperbole, and used tall tales and stories of Paul Bunyan to illustrate the idea of a hyperbole.  By the end of the class, all of the students were writing their own hyperboles!  It really was suchhhhh a blast.  And, the best part was, I wasn’t even nervous!  I woke up this morning full of nervous energy, but by the time I finally got up to teach, I was pretty calm.  Guess your prayers worked!! 🙂   I’m going to try to model my next lesson around homeschooling (something these kids have NO experience with) to talk about common stereotypes.  If I can pull it off, it should be really cool; I’m just trying to figure out a way to make it fun and interactive.  Any game or activity suggestions would be appreciated! 🙂

I suppose it’s only fair that, if I want to challenge my students in English class, I should expect to be challenged in Korean class.  Everything seems to be longer in Korean.  Something as simple as “It’s nice to meet you” becomes “만나서 반갑습니다” (mannaseo bangangapsimnida) – twice as many syllables as it is in English!  That seems to be the general trend – everything is at least twice as long to say in Korean.

Today we learned numbers.  Seems like a pretty simple concept, right?  Wrong.  Korean actually has TWO completely separate numbering systems – one is stolen from Chinese – and there are very specific times for when each one is used.  If you’re counting something, you can’t just say the number; you have to add a counting particle onto the end.  In addition, these number particles change depending on what you’re counting.  One cat is 고양이 한마리.  You’d think one pencil would be 연필 한마리, right?  Wrong.  It’s actually 연필 .  One person is 사람  .  One bottle of coke is 코카 .  We learned 7 different number particles today, each of which are used with a different object that is being counted – and those are only the most common ones.

It’s astonishing how fast we go in class.  I suppose it makes sense – in 6 weeks, we get about as much language instruction as most people would get in an entire semester.  But it’s still overwhelming.  This language is so foreign to me, I really have to beat it into my head to remember it.  I’ve never studied so much in a language class in my life.  But I’m learning, slowly but surely.  I can now introduce myself, issue positive and negative commands, tell where I’m planning on going and what I’m going to be doing there, and handle a basic shopping trip to the grocery store.  I’m still pretty stoked about the weekend and NOT having class for 2 days! 🙂  But one thing at a time….I’ve still got another day of class to get through, so for now, it’s off to bed for me!  I miss you guys!!