Intrepid Girl Reporter


Monday, 8/24: DC is for lovers, or: I would like to clarify a few things
August 24, 2010, 12:47 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, causes, okay seriously America

First of all: I thought about posting the link upon which I’m about to expound on my Tumblr, but i’ve decided to focus that account on serving as a scrapbook of sorts of things I like and wish to share. I’m in the process (ha ha) of constructing a website that will serve as my portfolio site and also feature the Tumblr, and I’m trying to figure out how to integrate blogging in there, as I’ve become quite attached to this blog, and I’m not sure how to integrate anonymity into a personal website. Not that this is really and truly anonymous, of course, but it still doesn’t technically have my name attached unless you really look, and identifying what is discussed on this website would take a good deal of legwork.

Second of all:

Tea Partiers’ Warning-Filled Guide to DC

I have no doubt that this is going to be burning up the DC blogosphere w/r/t its casual dismissal of the city’s incredible culture and diversity, and I also have no doubt that most of that criticism is going to be a bit homogeneous. I, however, have some very specific criticisms of this list and of its analysis, which I will now proceed to share with you.

  1. They left off a TON of good restaurants. This has a lot to do with the fact that they pretty much wholesale dismiss DC’s immigrant communities, which is where all the good cheap food is. As such, it’s not a good guide, regardless of one’s ideology. Tea Partiers, you like to save money. Go get a banh mi at Eden Center for $3. Bonus: it’s in Virginia, where I hear the handgun laws are more relaxed. (Yeah, I know this list has an Indian buffet and some sort of Middle Eastern bistro, but quite frankly, those are not the city’s strongest cuisines.) (Side note: CVS over the Georgetown Safeway? Are you on crack?*)
  2. “As a rule, African immigrants do not like for you to assume they are African Americans and especially do not like for you to guess they are from a neighboring country (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia) with whom they may have political or military tensions. It’s rare to meet anyone who gets really offended, but you can still be aware of the issue.” Oh, Bruce Majors, you mean so well. Yes, geopolitical cognizance is important for a lot of reasons, one of which is not offending people. I cannot think of a conversation, however, in which such an immigrant could become aware of your thinking that they’re African American without some other, very serious, repercussions. “So, I see that you’re black”? “I really admire what your people have done with the city”? “Just so you know, I took Emancipation Day off too”? The only place this country-of-origin issue *might* come up is a) in a discussion about food or b) if the other person starts a sentence with the phrase “Where I come from…” Any other discussion where you find yourself stuck on this issue was probably on the wrong track to begin with.
  3. “Do not take the Green or Yellow line…” if: you hate pupusas; you don’t want to go to Target; you want to miss out on the city’s best chicken and waffles or some really remarkable cakes. (Those cakes were featured on the Today Show, son.)
  4. Look, I understand what he’s saying about crime. But a) his neighborhood statistics are surely outdated, and b), well, he’s exaggerating. If you do not know me in person, I stand an imposing five feet two inches tall, although my self-image is that of a seven-foot-tall point guard. I am half Asian, half white, and I look more like a Powerpuff Girl than any kind of reasonable adult. I have also worked in two of the neighborhoods this map expressly tells you to avoid – Columbia Heights, which is on the Green and Yellow line, and Trinidad/H Street, which doesn’t even really have a nearby metro. Between my job in youth development and my ex-boyfriend’s house, I’ve covered pretty much the entirety of Columbia Heights (which is almost all hipsters now anyway) and Mount Pleasant on foot. In the year and a half I lived in the city, I never – never, never, never, never, NEVER – had any sort of issue with crime. Because I was not an idiot. I stayed in well-lit areas, I traveled with others, I carried pepper spray, I stayed on the phone if I was alone so that someone would know where I was at all times. Many of the people who lived in those neighborhoods had been there for generations, especially in Trinidad, and I remembered when I was there that I was on someone else’s home turf. I was respectful, if not engaging, if anyone hollered at me on the street. I didn’t look scared, and I didn’t look disgusted, and no one gave me any shit. I’m not saying that if you do get mugged, it’s your fault, because that would be stupid; DC is a city, crime happens, and you shouldn’t be alone in the dark somewhere where you don’t know the terrain anyway. But what I’m also saying is that you’re going to miss a lot of the city if you stay in the proscribed areas described in this so-called “guide,” and you shouldn’t feel scared going to other parts of the District if you’re with others, you know where you are and where you’re going, and you’re not wearing your grandmother’s $15,000 diamond choker. Don’t be stupid, people.
  5. As has been discussed on this blog so many times before, I have difficulty with traditional political labels. I do know, however, a lot of very intelligent people who proudly identify as conservative or libertarian and who would have a real problem with this characterization of the city. Unfortunately, because the MSM (yes, I went there) and especially the blogosphere tend to skew very liberal, this is publicized as just another example of the Tea Party being a haven for idiots and bigots and not an ideological sparring partner. What I’m trying to say is: I’M IN YR PARTY, MAKIN U LOOK BAD.

And counterpoint, problems I have with the coverage of this issue, or I am not done with everyone yet:

  1. See #5. Dear Media, Please try to remember that not all conservatives are this loathsome. Some of them do just want a less intrusive government. Whether that is efficient is another matter, of course, but it’s separate from these morons. I know you won’t listen, but I can hope, right? Sincerely, More Or Less A Centrist.
  2. The map that’s being circulated showing the demarcated area isn’t accurate. If it was, the blue area would be a lot larger, as the current map doesn’t include Woodley Park, Van Ness, Tenleytown, Chevy Chase, or my old ‘hood, Cleveland Park, which, God bless it, might be the whitest neighborhood of all. Of course, the sentiment is correct: the guide largely (okay, entirely) focuses on the Caucasian-dominated areas of a mostly black city. But it’s hyperbole, and it makes an otherwise mostly legitimate critique look bad.

I cannot get that everloving map to zoom in any more, so zoom yourself or click on the link for a clearer delineation of where this guy actually says you can go.

Good Lord, as my grandmother used to say. I didn’t think I’d get so worked up about this issue, but here it is an hour later and I now know how to make shapes on Google Maps. I suppose I’ve gotten pretty attached to this city, even if I don’t want to live there right now. (For reasons that have nothing to do with the District, and everything to do with me.) Best Beloveds, in a world full of people, only some want to fly. Isn’t that crazy?**

*One of my father’s favorite expressions.

**Five points for the reference.



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



never too late
October 16, 2007, 1:34 pm
Filed under: causes

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

As it turns out, Blog Action Day was…yesterday. I didn’t learn about it until today, however, but I still feel compelled to do my part, even though the vast majority of my audience knows me personally.

I’d like to make an eloquent and compelling case for the environment, but thanks to pottery it’s a bit exhausting to move my arms, and anyway I don’t think anything I could say would offer as much as this photo:

Lakes are not supposed to be that color. Just something to think about.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/world/asia/14china.html