Intrepid Girl Reporter

Wednesday, 4/30: 5-7-5
April 30, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, life on Jeju, skool, students, teaching

haiku composed by 2F:


They are handsome boys

Wow! They are sing very well


(Group effort.)


I took a victory nap to celebrate.

Today didn’t start off too well, as I a) woke up at 8:40 (which is the time I’m supposed to be AT school), b) somehow made the copier spit my papers out with such force that they all fell to the floor, into the cranny between the copier and some sort of cabinet, c) LOST my chalk holder (I had it for a month – a new record), and d) started teaching the wrong lesson before my students made me aware of what was going on. Fun stuff.

But then Oregon came to watch my classes and my students all loved her, of course. So that was cool.

Sometimes I look at the Facebook photos of these people I haven’t seen since I was maybe thirteen and it’s so strange to see them now. Even stranger to think that I can guess what we’ll look like when we’re old.

Tuesday, 4/29: in a school by the sea
April 29, 2008, 4:45 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, life on Jeju, life progress, skool

Student haiku:

I like spring so much

There are lots of flowers

It is warm, dear.

Are you a student?

I think I am a student.

So, I must study.

See, I bet you didn’t even know that your heart was made of ice until you felt it melt. (Also, aren’t accurate syllable counts overrated?)

I was talking to Scooter today for the first time in a while and describing my current jobless plight, and he reminded me that I live on a gorgeous island where the weather is really nice right now, which is true. I just need to get this stuff out so I can stop worrying about it. Of course, if I just relax and don’t send off any cover letters, I will never get a job, because no one will know I want one.

It is a nice time to live here. I just need to remember that. The Green Eggs and Ham lesson went surprisingly badly, but because my Tuesday kids are so far ahead, I don’t really have to worry about it for a while. Meanwhile, Oregon is coming to watch my kids haiku it up tomorrow, and I’m quite excited.

Monday, 4/28: as for you, Phil Donahue
April 28, 2008, 4:43 pm
Filed under: IGR Recommends, skool, students, teaching, the future
I don’t have any class notes to post today because I was too aggravated to write any down, which is unfortunate. I wanted to poke my students in the eye today. I am not going to lie. My school has just now separated the first graders into high/low levels, which means that the kids are in classes that are approximately half composed of new people, which means that they’re loud and obnoxious and refuse to listen to me even when I hold Co-Teacher B’s microphone to the portable speaker and make really unacceptable feedback noises. CTB was like, “Well, I dock their grades.” This does not work for me for obvious reasons. Then after school one of them was supposed to be cleaning and was actually twirling his mop handle like some sort of baton and whacked me in the shin. That was fun.

While I generally prefer a mic-free class, though, CTC’s microphone does make me feel rather enjoyably like a talk-show host, striding out into the audience and having students answer. What they probably don’t realize is that in my head, all the other students function as the studio audience.*

On that note, I’d like to recommend a particularly good story from a recent episode of This American Life that I recently discussed with one of my Program friends in Jeonju. I believe the episode itself is a rerun. The first story involves the rise and fall (and rise, and fall) of one Jerry Springer. You have to stream it from the website if you don’t want to pay. Highly recommended listening.


  • one more CL draft completed
  • potentially awesome Green Eggs/Ham lesson planned
  • emailed travel agent re: KoreanAir
  • uh.

Here is a poem by Audre Lorde. I’m not sure that I totally understand all of it yet, but I like it.


Audre Lorde

is the total black, being spoken
from the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open
how a diamond comes into a knot of flame
how sound comes into a words, coloured
by who pays what for speaking.
Some words are open like a diamond
on glass windows
singing out within the crash of sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
in a perforated book – buy and sign and tear apart –
and come whatever will all chances
the stub remains
an ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
breeding like adders. Other know sun
seeking like gypsies over my tongue
to explode through my lips
like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
bedevil me
Love is a word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am Black because I come from the earth’s inside
Now take my word for jewel in the open light.

*This reminds me of this Christopher Walken SNL skit that no one else seems to remember called “Jenny Jones,” or, alternately, “You Called Me A Geek, Now I’m Super Chic!” Our friend Christopher plays an extremely vocal audience guest, and I seem to remember thinking that it was just incredibly funny. But it was cut from syndication of the episode and there are very few mentions of it online, so evidently I was the only one.

Sunday, 4/27: choose your own adventure
April 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
Filed under: life on Jeju, MSYDP, the future, travel



  • call travel agent to reserve KoreanAir tickets
  • write cover letter for Museum Fellows program
  • plan out Green Eggs and Ham lesson
  • ASP lesson
  • work on diplomacy sim: official problem
  • mail package (if in Sicheong)
  • send off questions for article for [publication]


  • for sure mail package
  • cover letter for Janaagraha
  • work on diplomacy sim: country profile
  • Japan ideal itinerary
  • finish 1 article for [publication]


  • cover letter: Sonoma
  • work on DS: country profile
  • Japan hostels
  • at least start article 2 for [publication]
  • t-shirt design?

On the bus back from Seogwipo today I listened to We Are Scientists, thinking that I had not, until I realized that a) I did know these songs and b) it really just made me want to listen to Bloc Party, instead.

For the Ultimate tournament party on Saturday I was Hillary Clinton, Arkansas and Scooter were Secret Service agents, Oregon was Chelsea, and Transy was a Bosnian sniper. I took lots of pictures which I cannot share here, obviously. We danced a lot and ate some not-very-good food – I’m still not sold on Gecko’s, and La Vie makes a far better burger for much cheaper – and drank free Cass all night, and then we had a sleepover at a motel near EMart. Then today Oregon and Transy and I went to see Soccer play Frisbee. She’s quite pan-athletic. We left before Hallim’s game because it was starting to rain and, more importantly, we wanted some sujebi. Sorry, Hallim.

The applications for MSYDP will be on their way to Seoul by tomorrow, after which point we merely have to: find a way to get students there, arrange for their transportation, create programming that will appeal to them, make up some sort of diplomacy simulation, and ensure that they are fed. And design some t-shirts. Also, I got in a minor scuffle with Host Fam today because Host Parents wanted HB to apply for the program, even though, you know, he doesn’t want to go, because HE DOESN’T WANT TO BE A DIPLOMAT. He wants to be a judge. The deadline had passed, anyway, so he couldn’t apply without accusations of nepotism, but Host Parents are less than happy.

Friday, 4/25: the days of miracle and wonder
April 25, 2008, 6:05 pm
Filed under: Cheki, lists, MSYDP, photography, the future, travel

Post-travel recovery plans:


  • get out of bed by 9 AM
  • call KoreanAir to reserve MSYDP tickets
  • mail package home
  • write another stupid cover letter for another stupid job
  • things I can spend money on: paying Arkansas back, book club, maybe one coffee wherever I go to work (which rules out Hollys, as is far too expensive), splitting hotel room with Oregon for the night


  • start reviewing diplomacy simulation stuff for conference
  • plan lesson-ish
  • make list of stuff to do in Japan
  • no spending of money allowed

That list just took me about ten minutes to type. I sort of hate WordPress’s formatting a good deal of the time.

Anyway, on my travels, I bought this:

I AM EXTREMELY EXCITED. This is an excellent toy.

I realize that the whole Polaroid thing might be a little done already, and to be totally honest this was a complete impulse purchase – I was with my roommate from the Embassy internship, Wallenda, who had come to meet me in Daegu, and we were on the first floor of the Kyobo Bookshop and they had this beautiful display of cameras right by the entrance for people with no willpower, like me. To my credit, I managed to wait until I had bought a bunch of other stuff before going back and investigating.

The Cheki, at any rate, is unavailable in America, or so it appears from a cursory Google search. And Korea’s obsession with “name cards” (i.e. business cards) means that a million albums exist for them, which is convenient, as name cards are the exact size of the pictures my new camera takes. I bought the simplest one, which was also the cheapest; it wasn’t exactly cheap at ₩57000 (roughly $60 USD), but the only place I can find to get them in the US is eBay or, which, not being exactly a discount site, sells a “special edition” for $200. Still, it was not money I needed to spend, and instant film is notoriously expensive, but it’s pretty beautiful anyway.

Anyway that makes three cameras I have here in Korea – my good one, my old digital point-and-shoot (which is what I took to the mainland this week) and the Cheki. I wish I could have my lovely Holga here with me, but I can’t use it until I live somewhere where they can process my 120 film. Hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later. I’m rather embarrassed that I’m not a better photographer, to be honest – I haven’t studied photography in any way since high school, and I’m always afraid that my photos are too dependent on trite emotional manipulation and rely on the same old tricks. Nonetheless, I’m excited to play with a new way of taking pictures (well, for me at least). There’s a big expat party tomorrow in Jungmoon in honor of the Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and we’re all going to celebrate Arkansas’ birthday and cheer on Soccer and Hallim. Oregon has urged me to have my camera make its debut.

The mainland was surprisingly wonderful. I ate candied strawberries and Italian food and had my feet eaten by fish in Daegu, I saw The Host in Yeongcheon with Grayshifter, I went to a sports day at Jeonju Girls’ High School, and I met my summer roommate and her friend in Andong. I got a lot of one-on-one time in, a lot of surprising bonding, and I managed to get myself around the mainland without getting lost, which is more than I can say about my home here on Jeju.

One final note: Interest in the MSYDP is almost unbelievable. We’ve gotten a truly staggering number of applications, and I’m really excited. From my own school, however, I’ve only received six, and the truth is that my students’ English is just not that good. I mean, I know I shouldn’t be surprised; I teach at one of the lowest-level middle schools in Jeju-si. At least one applicant from my school will go, and I guess the rest is up to the judges.

Friday, 4/18: NO FUN FOR YOU
April 18, 2008, 3:28 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, host mom, okay seriously Korea, skool, students, teaching

2L – Break it Up

  • did REALLY well with syllables, said words too easy (who died and made them syllable king?)
  • computer didn’t work
  • Co-Teacher F does not understand sudoku, and once he learns concept of Syllable Sudoku worksheet, thinks it is a waste of time
  • “When I was young, all we learned was word and meaning, so for me, it’s a waste of time”
  • is this kind of like when he told me that he used to hit a lot more than he does now?

2I – Break it Up

  • strong work from the runt in the front
  • I can hear him telling the kids that he doesn’t get why we’re doing this

2E – Break it Up

  • dug game, etc.
  • generally well-behaved
  • already knew WotD thanks to Co-Teacher E, WTF Co-Teacher E

Can we please consider all of the things I could have done to be productive, instead of napping and watching “The Office” and staring at my computer screen contemplating my jobless future?

  • completed cover letter
  • written letter letter
  • made earrings
  • cleaned room
  • reworked resume
  • planned imminent trip to mainland

Instead I did exactly what I just told you, with a side of eel gluttony.

My latest attempt at finding a job culminated this morning, when I discovered that the application I had stayed up until 3:00 AM finishing had not, in fact, been delivered in its entirety, due to the fact that the person’s inbox didn’t accept PDFs, or SOMETHING. So I had to roll into school (with really gross hair, btw) on very little sleep and beg them to let me use the fax machine to send stuff all the way to America. That went over pretty well.

So that was probably why I didn’t react very well when Co-Teacher F told me that games were not legit. I mean, he has a lot of really good teaching-related advice as long as I’m not asking him about the validity of corporal punishment, and I think he’s admirably flexible considering that he’s taught through some of the greatest changes that Korean education has ever seen (i.e. the shift from no-fun to occasional-fun classes). But I was frustrated enough that I broke a huge, cardinal rule of kibun, which is to never put anyone in a position that would force them to defy their “senior,” and I turned to Co-Teacher B and was like, “Do YOU think this is a waste of time?” Then I had to apologize. Fortunately, no one got mad at me. Which is impressive, because sometimes I think that I would be mad at me too. Maybe I’ve been here too long.

Anyway, after that lovely morning, I finally satiated my naengmyun craving with Pottery Teacher. I don’t know how I ever hated naengmyun. I’ve eaten it three times in the past week, and it’s not even that warm out. Then Africa called and wanted me to have an adventure, but being the awesome person that I am, I had to go take a nap instead due to my absence of sleep the night before. Then I made plans to hang out with HM, because, truthfully, I thought all my friends would be busy, although I did legitimately want to hang out with HM as well. They turned out to not be, of course, and I got home from eating eel with one of my Korean friends only to find that HM was too busy to do anything.

Miguk Oma points out that HM was sort of a backup anyway, so I shouldn’t be aggravated, and I do sympathize – this woman runs a house and has a job, and she won’t even let me do my laundry. Last night we had some really great bonding time, too, in which we had a conversation about foods we like and do not like. (She hates dog, just for the record.) So I recognize how immature I’m being. I think I’m just stressed because I still don’t have any plans for next year. Some days are mine, Trebek, but not all of them.

Thursday, 4/17: sweet and sour
April 17, 2008, 4:28 am
Filed under: okay seriously Korea, skool

Lunch today was spaghetti, which is worse than American caf spaghetti, if such a thing is even possible. Fortunately, I only pay for lunch three days a week, and even though I have not technically fulfilled that quota for this week, I can escape with the excuse that I just haven’t paid for that delicious food, ergo I am denied the privilege of eating it.

Anyway, I just downed an entire package of sour strawberry chews in like five minutes. Maybe this is why, despite my poor eating habits, I don’t seem to be losing very much weight this semester.

The Teachers’ Book Club has been canceled, as the book chosen was too hard for the non-English teaching (but Anglophone – got that?) teachers. The whole point of the stupid book club was to allow the English teachers to practice and become better teachers, but then Co-Teacher E invited these other teachers who only speak some English to join, and now the book is too hard, so instead they want me to lead a conversation each week, which I suspect is just going to turn into a conversation class. Which would be fine, and a good way to get to know other teachers, but is also a) not what I signed up for and b) not something I have time for.

The MSYDP, however, is shaping up quite nicely – Program teachers were supposed to distribute the applications today, and they were uniformly enthusiastic I LOVE MY FRIENDS. Fingers crossed.

Today they’re playing James Blunt or something on the soccer field. Last semester they played Celine Dion and “Stan” by Eminem. I guess it’s a good thing my kids don’t really speak English. WHERE AM I?