Archive for August, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

So, it looks pretty bad for New Orleans. This hurricane is stronger than Katrina. Thankfully, most people seem to actually be leaving this time, including my friend .

I’m also a little worried about my own family. Houston is in Gustav’s potential-path-cone, and having been through a couple bad ones as a kid, I don’t want to know what a category-5 would do. There have been a few close calls with our house being flooded before, and if Gustav hits Houston, it could be really, really bad. For reference, here‘s what Houston looked like after a heavy tropical storm, my senior year of high school. Here‘s other photos (and more).

So, please keep everyone who could be affected in your thoughts over the next couple days.

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Update

The rumor was true.  My Supervisor from Hell™ is indeed being transferred to Naju, and so I am getting a new one on Monday.  I’ve already met the guy, and he’s awesome.  His English isn’t great, but it’s better than SfH’s, and he’s very friendly, has been to the states, and loves both Boston and the Sox.  So, this bodes well.  Maybe my luck is changing, eh?

First week of the new semester went well.  Korean kids spend much of their vacations in various other forms of school, so there isn’t as much of a post-summer rowdiness issue as I have experienced in teaching in the US.  But, there’s still some, so I took this week relatively easy for them.  Next week though, it’s back into the abyss.

I’m really, really enjoying my new scooter.  Makes getting around the island quite easy and pleasant.  It also makes it easier for me to get around to take photos like these:

Field of Sunflowers

Field of Sunflowers

and

Dolduksan

Dolduksan

I can theoretically drive it all the way to Mokpo, but I’m not quite that brave yet.  Maybe after another week or two, once I’m more comfortable with the highways.

Apparently, come October, I may be essentially the only foreigner on the island. They can’t find replacements.  The irritating Torontonian (or whatever they call themselves) left in August, and he taught at the high school. Lisa, who teaches at the “English Town”, leaves to go home to Nova Scotia in October.  There’s a guy who works at the local hagwon, and while I see him more these days, it’s still not really regular. That leaves me, that guy, and E. However, E is married to a Korean, and we (the other foreigners) don’t see her that often, and we’ll see even less of her when her baby is born in September.

According to the recruiter that works to find jobs for this area, nobody wants to work in rural areas, and they’re having a really difficult time finding anyone to come work here. Hopefully they’ll find someone soon, or I’ll have to recruit someone myself!

For anyone interested…

I have started a teaching blog:  My Students are Doomed

Twitter?

Are any of you readers on twitter?  If so, let me know and I’ll add you.  I’m over there as driftingfocus.

Please!

Next Monday is the day in Korea where new teachers get placed, and existing ones get moved.  I have heard rumor that my Supervisor From Hell™ (I have met no one, foreign or Korean, who likes her) is being moved to Naju.  If this is true, I honestly think I may do a little dance of joy.

Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please!

School Stuff

Wednesday I head up to 해남 (Haenam) to take my driving classes.  It’s offered in English once a week there, and while I was annoyed at first at having to take the class, it would be nice to actually understand what the various Korean traffic signs mean, and understand what the rules are in terms of bikes.

My lesson this morning crashed and burned in the first 5 minutes.  They were even more rowdy than I had anticipated.  I ended up making a tally of how many people did which activities over the holidays, and then asked them questions based on their answers (like “Where did you swim?”, “What TV show did you watch?”, etc).  After that, I asked them to give me suggestions of some topics they would like me to cover in class this semester.  Korean students have essentially no control over their schooling, and I wanted to put a little power in their hands, for once.  They seemed baffled that I was asking *them* what they wanted to learn, but eventually they figured it out.  So, now I have some ideas of what units I should touch on first.  I ended with about 10 minutes to spare, and so we played hangman with the category being sports that were in the Olympics.  They enjoyed that, and it gave them a positive note to end on.

Tomorrow I go to 섴교, my least favourite school.  My co-teacher there corrects me in front of the class (and 95% of the time he’s wrong), and often will try to change my lesson as I’m teaching it.  I have talked with him about this before, but he’s an older teacher, and most older teachers tend to view younger teachers as below them, and thus have no problem with overstepping that classroom boundary.  It’s irritating, but there’s little I can do about it.

*Edit:  Oops, I was wrong, I’m going to 지산, the school I work at that doesn’t have indoor plumbing.  Nice kids, horrendous facilities.

Stuff.

Having the new bike is really helping with my mood, in general.  I hadn’t realized how much it was bothering me to have my travel restricted to the (very limited) bus service here.  I’ve been driving it around parts of the island I hadn’t even previously realized existed, and coming across people who I’m quite sure have never seen a Real Live Foreigner™ before, from their reactions.  It’s been enjoyable, and I’ve been getting some good shots.

That said, with the recommencing of school duties today, I found myself rather depressed this morning, for some reason.  In general, I do pretty well here – I’m not really sad, or lonely.  But, sometimes it does hit me broadsides.  I miss having Marc next to me when I wake up, I miss the forests of both Massachusetts and Virginia, and I miss being able to feel laid back.  The communication barrier adds a general level of stress to my life here, and while it is low level, it is constant, and that can begin to wear on me.  I’m hoping to go up to Seoul for Chuseok so I can attend Quaker Meeting again, as I think it will help.  I have found that attending Meeting really does wonders for my mood here, as it provides a reasonable amount of familiarity, something I sorely lack here most of the time.

Without further ado, here’s two photos from yesterday’s drive:

 

Seaweed Farmers in Paengmok

Seaweed Farmers in Paengmok

and

My bike at sunset in the most rural part of the island.

My bike at sunset in the most rural part of the island.

 

Classes start for me today at about 11am.  Since it’s the first week for the kids, I’m giving them an easy day.  I’m going to have them each tell the class three things about their vacations, and then I’m going to call on random kids and have them try to remember what other students did.  Simple, easy for me (I’m a little tired after spending 4 nights sleeping on someone’s floor), relatively easy for the students, and will help to ease them back into the idea of being in school again.  That’s this week’s basic lesson plan.


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