Friday, August 12, 2011

The Disquieted Mind

(Otherwise known as the pent-up words and videos of the last few weeks post brought on by a bout of insomnia, joining Pinterest, and reading too much of this blog.)

First, a warning about the blog I've been reading too much of. I recommend everyone read it. It may very well change your life. I believe it has changed mine. That said, it is not (hopefully *yet*) a happily-ever-after story. It is about a family in California whose 7-month-old baby is dying of liver failure. I've read the entire blog over the past two days and I almost feel like I've been reading a heart-tugging fictional story that ends leaving you hanging. 

Except this is real life, and this tiny baby's life is hanging in the balance. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. So, with fair warning, I suggest you read it. Why? To see eternal truths prevail in the face of adversity, to read of a normal family whose lives have been catapulted into the strange because of a one-in-a-million-odd disease who still make (not find!) the time to take their three-year-old out for ice cream, and to have your heart touched forever by Ruby Jane.
It's ok. I don't mind if you link over. This will still be waiting here when you get back.



And now I'll give you some time to compose yourself if you did link over because I'm switching some serious gears (don't worry, I totally lost it while in the computer lab at work today where all the teachers are required to be. Two other teachers checked on me to make sure I was ok because my heart was so touched by this terrible and beautiful tragedy).

Now, back to my continued adventures in Korea!

Hear in the Village there are a couple places we frequent. One much more so than the other. The below videos feature Castel Nuevo (known to the teachers as Pizza Pasta). The woman who runs the store is really nice, and now recognizes Adam as a regular. Plus, the food is really good! If you read Adam's blog you also know that the prices are pretty nice, especially for teachers (who get a discount-woohoo!).



video

The next is the closest thing to "fast food" we have here. It's called Meister (belying the German roots of the Hamburger). We go here significantly less often.



Next, on to a little something I've been working up the courage to get over, but just can't seem to (kind of like the shower curtain thing). My first experience with a Korean bathroom at the airport was pretty cool. There was this handy button that wrapped plastic around the toilet, making sure it was a sanitary seat at the beginning of each individual. 

Nothing too fancy beyond that. Flush and go (or rather "go" then flush and THEN go...)! The toilet in our apartment was also "normal" by all regards--it even came with an elongated bowl (yes Daddy, I thought of you). It's a little close to the wall (read: my butt is too big for me to sit on it normally, I have to sort of do a 1/4 side saddle, but that's no biggie), but again it's just like at home. 

Then came my first experience with a toilet in the cafeteria. 

Here is where my confidence wavered. I walked into the stall and along the entire left side of the toilet is an electronic panel of buttons (all labeled in Korean). No matter what I tried I couldn't figure out how to flush the thing to save my life (thank goodness I had the sense not to pee in a toilet I couldn't flush!)...so I duck-walked back home. 

The next try was using one of the bathrooms in one of the buildings where we hold class. I was relieved when I saw that their was no fancy panel of buttons (sidenote: I learned those are just "luxury" options and that the lid to the toilet was hiding the standard flushing mechanism common among public toilets). The sign on the door read "Please put toilet paper to garbage, not to toilet." Fair enough, even if it does make the stalls remind me of the smell of our camp trailer after a long weekend on the mountain...

Glad to have conquered the actual toilet part of going to the bathroom I walked out to triumphantly wash my hands only to find there was no soap. Then my observant eyes fell upon a slimy teal-colored mass congealed in what appeared to be a soap dish. I may have audibly whimpered. Don't believe me? Here's proof!



Public bar soap? REALLY? Ick. It still grosses me out. 

Not only that, but after the encounter with the soap (which kind of mushes because of the humidity and constantly being wet from use so it never really feels like it rinses off, and I feel like my hands are coated in other people's germs) I turned to find an air dryer. Pretty sure I thought, You have GOT to be kidding me! After about 3 minutes of vigorous rubbing under the hot air my hands were still wringing wet. So I walked away. Consequently, I've since determined that the Cafeteria bathrooms have the best hand soap (not the mushy green stuff, it's legit Oil of Olay Creme bar) AND they have paper towels.

Amidst all the blog reading, eating, and post-eating functions of the day I have actually been teaching, too (I know, I know, where do I find the time?)! The majority of the Village is occupied with an extended holiday program called VIP (Vacation Intensive Program). Adam and I were temporarily reassigned to "Special Programs" instead of being involved in VIP. 

This means we get to work with International students, teach a different variety of lessons, and we don't have specific content areas (we are science, film, cooking, and language teachers). That said, it's been a lot of fun! For the first week I worked with a program that combined Korean, Japanese, and Russian middle school-aged students. We had heard horror stories about the previous Russian students, so I was a tad trepidatious, but it was no big deal. The Korean and Japanese students were only here for one week, but the Russians stayed for a second week. 

Originally I was not scheduled to be with them, but luck prevailed and I was reassigned to stick with them. They were so much fun! I got to know their personalities and had some good laughs. I was shocked at their eagerness to play Twister during "Action Time" (basically a period where we just play games and let them take a break from English study). This is a series of clips I took while we played a game one night.



Their last day they even prepared a song and gifts for us. I really did almost feel like crying. It was so sad to see them go! But this week it was on to Elementary and Middle School students. 

This group was a lot more diverse from most we teach in One Week Programs (OWP--this school seriously has enough acronyms to rival the Church!). Typically we get groups from entire schools. This week (and next) our students, the majority of them, don't know each other. Their parents all work for Industrial Bank of Korea, and the bank sends the kids here. 

It's fun, but can prove difficult with activities that require groups or for students to put themselves on any kind of perceived limb (like "Dance Party"). This week the kids did great. I was honestly shocked at how quickly they gelled. Hopefully next week goes well, too!

And lastly...I have an overwhelming desire to do some nesting here. We have a whole lot of white walls and it's driving me nuts! Tonight I bought a rug and some vinyl clings. I have some ideas about paint and accent pieces. Pinterest browsing is not helping me narrow down what I want to do.

Oh (I know I said lastly, but I'm allowed to change my mind)--shout out to my middle-aged parents who figured out how to Skype using Daddy's new iPhone4. I *LOVED* seeing them and talking to them. Family really is where it's at.