Intrepid Girl Reporter

you, my darling, would make a terrible pioneer.

Live from the gyomushil (teacher’s office) again, where it is marginally less cold than yesterday. These classrooms have no heat – only the teachers’ offices have any sort of climate control – and I find myself bundling up every day to teach. Soccer said she wore a hat all day yesterday in class. The teachers here daydream about how American schools have central heating/cooling. To be honest, that’s not what I thought I’d miss, but now I, too, think longingly of thermostats, of the ancient furnaces that lined my high school’s halls. Yes. This is the state to which I’ve come.

I got Eun Jeong, the whiniest and sullenest of many whiny and sullen girls, to participate MULTIPLE TIMES today, during a too-good-to-be-true, only-in-the-movies lesson – the other girls were even hooting and hollering at her, so impressed were they that she decided to brush that dirt off her shoulder and join the rest of the world. She was still late to class, but I’ll take what I can get. I wrote my own Thanksgiving lesson*, because a) PCT is already teaching her classes the standard version, b) they’ve probably heard it before, and c) a lot of the lessons I found online were either inaccurate or culturally insensitive – for example, crowding kids into a small space and comparing it to the Mayflower is a lot less likely to work here in Korea, where everybody’s crowded and lives in a small space anyway. I feel like the kids would miss the point. Besides, as we all know, the story of Thanksgiving that we have has a few holes in it, like, you know, the centuries of mistreatment that the white man eventually inflicted on the natives, and the fact that no one even knows for sure if they ate turkey. (Although we do know that they prayed and fasted. I’m sure my kids are interested in that.) So we played a game about tolerance to illustrate exactly how it feels to be hated on, and we talked about old pilgrims and modern-day pilgrims (i.e. refugees), and they were SO into it. I could see them getting it. They know we still have a world in which there are pilgrims, and because of that, they are doubly thankful for the fact that, as one student wrote, “we have happy.”

Which was good, because my second class was a nightmare. I tried to get my low-level second graders to imagine what they’d bring on the Mayflower and they were all like, “mp3!” I told them – the ones who even bothered to do the worksheet, at least – that if that was all they brought, they’d starve, because you can’t eat music. My grandfather used to tell my mother, my grandmother, and I that we would have died in short order on the Oregon Trail. Now I am experiencing a small taste of his contempt.

Notes from Seoul: I got in Friday carrying a bag containing at least twenty pounds of tangerines, and, being late for my interview thanks to the worthless baggage people at Gimpo, took Soccer up on her offer to take my oranges. This proved to be a mistake on her part, because those oranges were really heavy, and she didn’t end up seeing me again for the rest of the night. After having taken a taxi that a) got stuck in traffic and b) charged me more money than I had, necessitating a stop at an ATM, I made it in for the Interview with the Internship, where they introduced me as “the girl who’ll be interning with us,” which means, I guess, that I got it. I was scheduled to meet Scooter and Oregon at the Seoul National University 치하촐 (subway) stop – a stop that necessitated a 45-minute journey, in heels that were too big and weren’t even mine, on a subway on which I could not move – only to find that they had actually meant the Seoul National University OF EDUCATION, which is a totally different stop and is also within walking distance of my original location. Needless to say, I got off the tube and immediately started yelling at Scooter, which was great, because I had been in communication with Oregon, not Scooter, and so he had been unaware of the entire debacle save for the fact that I was late. Then we went to get some non-Korean food in Hongdae, but the taxi driver took us to Kongdae instead, which was not helpful in the least. By the end of the night, however, we had: eaten Thai food, found a mysterious convenience store with the best candy EVER, been stopped in our tracks by both a giant construction crane and a man in a wolf costume, and met a sushi chef/sometime DJ and hip-hop enthusiast who introduced himself as – no joke – DJ Ham. We lost Scooter, who went back to the apartment where he was couch-surfing, but then he called us to say that a) he couldn’t find his way home, but b) he had found ₩10,000 (about $10USD) on the street. It was that sort of night.

So it looks as though I’ll be in Seoul this winter, which is a prospect to which I look forward. I like Seoul, even though it’s really, really cold. I’m not entirely sure about The Internship yet; I’m still waiting on a few things, but it looks good as of right now. And now I’m safely home in Jeju, ready to talk about travelers some more.

Note: I want to start doing something where I post something cool every day, something I like, which will both give me an incentive to post more and provide alternative reading material for those of you who get tired of reading about the smaller details. Here is the first thing, courtesy of Brendan: One Laptop Per Child. This is the kind of thing I want to be doing with my life. Okay, Miguk Oma? I am going to graduate school to figure out how to implement ideas like these in different countries. That is my life plan.

*I’ve uploaded the lesson plans and powerpoints I’ve been using – I think I’m going to start doing that from now on. If you do choose to use it, try to give me a heads-up re: how it goes.

intermediate Thanksgiving lesson (pilgrims/refugees)

intermediate Pilgrims powerpoint

low-level Thanksgiving lesson

low-level Pilgrim powerpoint


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

When I was on my student teaching I had a class that had a very strange mix of students with low performance and students with high performance. I had the top four students in the school (across the board) and the “lowest” five. I also had two right in the middle. I found that the more the lessons were structured to be fun, the more the class got into it. The process of checking for understanding was often left to the outcomes of the game, or a group project that they had choices in.
I think it is truly awesome that you are teaching and thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

Comment by endithinks

Yeah, it’s pretty much winter on the mainland, you pansy islanders. Though I do have heat in the classrooms. OH SNAP

Comment by grayshifter

As much as I’d love to steal your lesson plans, they do not seem to be available. Also, we have heat at the school, but nothing close to Powerpoint. Still, if I had to choose, I’d pick heat.

Comment by Rachel

[…] lack of willpower is well documented, as is my inability to be a pioneer of any sort, but I did try to fast today. I did. I almost made it to dinner, but then I ate a piece […]

Pingback by Friday, 3/21: one big holiday « Intrepid Girl Reporter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: