Monday, June 29, 2009

Map of Gunsan

This is a map of part of Gunsan. I circled our apartment building in red, the church in blue, and the school in yellow. It takes us about five minutes to get to the school, and 12-15 minutes to get to church on our bikes. We use this map a lot to find out how to reach new areas to explore. This link will take yoo to the same map as above, but you will be able pan out or in on this one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Kids at School

On Wednesday we don't have to teach. Instead we have a library class. The kids come in and read books and they have to take quizzes on the books on the computer. We are in charge of managing everything for this. These first three pictures are during the library class.

The eye you can see in this picture is Vicky. She is really fun. She drew this picture of Liji
but wouldn't let him have it. She would only put it up through this window that separates the library in the school from the foyer area. Liji however did sneak up on her to get this picture of it as she was holding it up.

This is the coolest motorcycle we have ever seen.

Here is Liji with one of his classes.

This is our teacher's office. Liji is hard at work preparing his lessons.

These two videos are of my first class. Every class has a name and this is Jack's class. Usually the academy doesn't take kids until they are 10 but Jack is an expection because his mom is the secretary of the school. He is the youngest at 5, but he is so smart and keeps up just fine. His mom said she went out one morning around 6:30 am and she found Jack up practicing his English on the computer all by himself. He said I have to learn English! He is so cute.

At the Air Force Base

They call this guy the devil #1. He is one of the ward members and he is the top civil engineer on the base which means he is in charge of maintaining everything on the base. After church he took us on a tour of the base and had the fire department men give us a tour of their fire station.

Once a month the air base ward has dinner after church at 7 pm. The meal is actually for all of the different denomenations that meet on the base so we made a lot. After church was over we stuck around the base to help prepare the meal and then eat some delicious food. Yea for American food!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Exciting Week of June 14

This week has been very good. I am starting to feel much more comfortable with the kids at school and with teaching in general. The kids seem to have caught on to my teaching style and what I’m trying to communicate to them. They seem to be learning much more. It is fun. I will try and get pictures up of them soon. I have taken the camera to work but get too busy when I am there and forget to take pictures.
Liji and I have been having so much fun. Every day we’ve had a new adventure. Last Sunday we went to the Gunsan Korean Ward and then we went with the missionaries over to the Branch on the Air Base. The ward at the base is very small. There were only 7 others besides us and that includes the missionaries. We were told there is about 3 other men that are military who are just on leave for a few weeks. It was good to be able to understand the talks and lessons. We decided that we are going to go to both wards. The missionaries are also going to help us with our Korean every Sunday morning at 9, just before the Gunsan ward. That should help us a lot with our pronunciation.
Monday’s we’ve decided to set aside as our apartment cleaning and laundry day. So that’s what we did on Monday.
Tuesday through Friday we mostly went out each morning on our bikes with nothing really planned and usually ended up finding some pretty cool places. We found a fish market that Liji was pretty excited about. We also did a lot of exploring on the mountains around our complex. There are walking trails on most all of them that we have found. On Friday night at about 10:30 we heard a bunch of sirens outside and Liji looked out the window to find a house across the street from us in a roaring fire. It was crazy. We’re not sure if anyone lived there or not.
Wednesday our boss took us out to lunch along with all of the other teachers we work with. We went to this Italian restaurant that was a little different from the kind of Italian we are used to but it was very good. When you eat here you just have big dishes in the middle of the table that everyone eats off of. Kind of different, but it is definitely much more personable. If I wasn’t comfortable with someone before, after eating with them I definitely am.
Today we went to this huge marketplace that we found as we were on our way home from exploring yesterday. When we left it looked like it might rain so we took our rain jackets but we were definitely not prepared for the storm that came. Looking around in the market was fine because there was a roof overhead. They had a lot of clothes, fabric, bedding, drapery, shoes, and food there. I don’t know if I will ever adjust to the putrid smell of dried fish. They seem to have fish just out drying everywhere and it just smells so so bad of rotting meet. It’s really hard looking around at buying stuff without speaking Korean because they are very aggressive sellers even in the grocery stores. If you stop to look at something for longer than 5 seconds they’re following you and shoving everything at you. They seem so upset when I seem interested in something and then don’t end up buying it. We tried to shop long enough to wait out the storm that was going on outside but finally decided that we were just gonna have to get soaked. So we tried to get all of our stuff under our rain jackets we brought and headed home on our bikes. Needless to say we were drenched in less than a minute. We had a lot of fun and at least it was warm rain. It was actually kind of refreshing.
Tonight the Gunsan ward had a branch activity at a place here they call, The Singing Room, basically Karaoke. They said that it is a tradition here in Korea. It was so much fun to experience and lucky for us they did have a lot of songs we could sing in English. The ward members are just so welcoming to us. I have not had that much fun in a long time. There were about 10 of us in this room with a big screen for the wards and video to appear on. They had microphones and the sound system was so good. This was way better than Karaoke in America. At the end of your singing you get scored on how well you did. Then they gave out awards at the end. Like first second and third prizes. I was awarded the “Most Popular of the night” award. Man, I’m good, haha, yea right. I’ll post some videos so you can see what it’s like. I was thinking how much Mandy, Marshall, Serena, Deborah and many others from our family would have loved doing something like this. Maybe one of you could start up a business like this.

Lot's of adventures

They really get into this. It sure did make it fun.

Liji had fun singing, but he did not have fun when they tried to get him to dance.
I had fun watching them try and make him dance though.

Sister Che and I
She speaks English really well, though she is very shy about it. She has been so helpful to us.

This is outside our complex when we finally made it home in the downpour. I was drenched.

If you can't tell by now. This is a dead dog in the market. Yum, Yum, not.

Poor Bunny. He doesn't even know that he is just there to be someones dinner.

This is the fire damage the next day.

Liji obviously needs to be more careful with his Head.

We see this groups of young kids all the time out on field trips or something. They are so cute.

What handsome men!

This is what happens when you forget to turn the knob on the faucet from shower
to sink after taking a shower. I went to brush my teeth after getting
ready and got wet instead. Sad Day:(

Shark for dinner anyone?

The guy dancing in this video seems to be the ward comedian. He is so funny.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I bet you can't get seafood any fresher than this!

Rice planter

Korean's don't have/use a lot of farm equipmet, but on the bigger fields we have seen these rice planters. The video quality is not very good, but you can see the row of green shoots that the machine is putting down.

Korean night on the Town

On Saturday evening a sister from our ward invited us to dinner with her and another member of the ward. Her name is Sister Oh, she is single and close to our age, the other guy is also close to our age, he told us to call him Chad, which is a lot easier to pronounce than his Korean name. They were both really fun people who speak English fairly well. They took us to a pretty nice restaurant, where they grilled the meat in a hot pot right in the middle of our table. It was marinated pork, and we ate it wrapped in lettuce or sesame leaves with several different toppings. It was delicious, and it was really fun to grill our own meat right at our table. After our main course we had noodle soup, but they served it freezing cold, I liked it, and Christina said she liked it, even though she usually doesn’t eat anything unless it’s hot enough to burn your mouth.
After our meal they took us to a park that had a lake, and lit up footbridge across the lake. It was really pretty; we also saw fireflies hovering over the lake. There was a free cultural exhibition with traditional Korean singing and dancing. The dancers balanced pots on their heads while they danced, it was pretty impressive.
After the park we went to a movie, they asked us to pick the movie, and the only movie we were sure wasn’t rated R was “Night at the Museum 2.” Christina and I liked the movie, but I don’t think that Koreans understand American humor; we were the only ones laughing. The movie had Korean sub-titles, but I guess the humor was lost in translation. There was probably close to 100 people in the theater and Christina and I were the only ones who laughed at all.
It was a really fun night; we are so glad that we have been able to make Korean friends.
We also purchased used bikes this week and we have been able to see a lot more of the city. We get around much faster on the bikes, so we get to see a lot more than we did when we were walking.
Early Saturday afternoon we rode clear out into the countryside, we didn’t really know where we were going but we had a lot of fun just seeing the countryside. It was really nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city.

Korean night on the town

After dinner we asked them if we could then treat them to some ice cream. They agreed and took us to Baskin Robbins(not as Korean as Liji would have liked, though they
did have a flavor called green tea). When it came to paying though they refused to let us pay and said the whole night was on them. Very nice people.

There was soo much food. We loved it!

This is a bridge at the park that we went to, it really pretty.

This is the noodle soup that we at after our main course meal, it was served freezing cold.

One of the salads they served us, it had sesame oil, chili pepper and other spices on it, we liked it.

We wrapped our meat in these lettuce leaves, they told us the darker green leaves were sesame leaves.

Dried fish with onion, and lots of chili paste, it was very hot, but I liked the taste, Christina opted to not try it.

Shredded green peppers and onions, with chili pepper.

The dressing for this sald was sweet, it tasted like ground up sweet corn and crushed pineapple. Christina and I both really liked it.

Grilling our meat over charcol right in the middle of our table.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


We pass these pretty flowers on our way to and from work. Today I matched them so

we took a picture.

We have been so busy during the days; we are pooped at night. This was about 5 minutes

after I was done saying my prayers. He didn't even wake up when I took this. I just let him sleep. He finally woke up after about another 10 minutes.

This is up one of these hills/mountains near our apartment. It's the one with the

exercise equipment.

Update from Christina: Teaching and Gunsan Ward

Liji has been so great with the kids. He is crazy with them. They just love it. His class is so loud. They are just across the hall from me and I can hear them all the time.
Our part of the teaching job at the school is to mostly get the students comfortable with speaking English and getting their pronunciation accurate. The Korean teachers mostly deal with the grammer part of it. A big thing that they want the students to be able to do is form sentences. If you ask them something they almost always just give one word answers. So I ask them a lot of questions during class. I have them answer first with their one word answers and then I demonstrate how to properly answers with a complete sentence and then I have them repeat me. It has seemed to work pretty well. They are gradually catching on and I will sometimes get a proper answer. When that happens it is so exciting. They also want us doing a lot of games with the students so that it is more interactive so I have been gathering a list. If anyone has any fun classroom games to help with speaking please let me know.
I am learning so much here. It is just so different. The communication barrier has definately been a little tricky to get around. But this has given me an opportunity to take a minute to step back and think; ok what is it really that I am trying to convey. Sometimes I can be so unclear in my communication skills and also such a bad listener. This is just going to be such a great experience. I feel so grateful to be here.
At church on Sunday everybody gave us such a warm welcome. Even though most of them couldn't speak to us. They would come up and to us and just seemed to let us know how happy they were to have us. In Relief Society there were only 4 sisters and then me. One girl is my age, her name is sister O (that is shortened from her full Korean name to make it easer for us to say) she just was baptized a couple years ago but as been inactive until this year. The other three sister were like in their 30's or early 40's. Nobody gave a lesson they just had a testimony meeting and they asked me to bare my testimony first because they said they really wanted to hear me speak. So I bore my testimony to them and told them how grateful I was to them for their kindness and love towards me and that I knew this was where I was supposed to be. As I testified of this the Spirit entered and they felt it also. It was just a real neat experience. I already feel so much love for them. The missionaries told us that all of the members in the ward are first generation converts, and there are many inactive. I have never been in a ward with so many that new to the gospel. It is going to be so great. I feel like there is so much I can do and it is driving me to learn the language sooner so I can communicate better. Liji and I are studying the language every morning but it seems slow going. Pray for us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First days of teaching in Korea

We have taught classes for two days now, so I thought I would tell a little more about our academy, that is what the Korean students call our institution. When we have called it a school, they always correct us.
We teach students from about 8 years old to 16 or so. The kids go to a regular school in the morning, and then come to English + (the name of our academy) after that. I am still not sure how the Korean education system works, but it appears that the younger students get out of school first, and the older they are the longer they stay in school. So we start teaching at 3pm, and our first classes are the youngest students, about 8-10 years old. Our last classes of the night are from 8-9pm, and on Mondays I teach a 9-10pm class. The last classes of the day are the oldest students, 15-16 years old. My biggest class has only had about 8 students in it, I really like that. After teaching classes of 25-30 students, 8 students seems almost like one-on-one.
I like the variety of teaching so many different age groups, but each age has its different challenges. The youngest students barely speak English, so teaching them has much more interactive. I have found that drawing pictures on the board; and acting things out are effective strategies to help them understand what I am trying to teach them. The younger students have a much shorter attention span, if I don’t change pace every 5-10 minutes, I bore them to death. There are also many benefits of teaching younger kids: they are not shy about speaking English, they belt out at the top of their lungs any new word or phrase that I give them, they are so eager to learn. Another plus is that if they are getting restless I can always have them stand up and jump around and wave their arms to burn off some energy. They especially like it when I join them in this activity, to tell the truth, I like it as well. It helps me to burn off some energy, and to wake back up if I am starting to be boring.
The older students have a much better command of the English language; some of them can actually carry out a conversation. It is much harder to read the older kids. With the younger kids, I can always tell when they are confused, or lost. Their faces are so easy to read. On the other hand the older kids are much less animated, so sometimes I think they don’t understand, but they actually do. Other times, I think they do understand, but I have lost the whole class, they just sit there stone faced. It is much harder to gain the older students attention after I bore them. I have tried having them stand up and move around, but they are shy about dancing around the classroom. So I am still working on ways to regain the class’s interest after I lose it, does anyone have any suggestions about how to animate teenagers?
I have also discovered some important cultural differences that I have been blatantly ignoring. It is polite to take your shoes off when you enter a building here in Korea, that we knew. So we went and got sandals to wear at school. I had a hard time finding sandals big enough for me, but I found that if I took my socks off the sandals fit me alright. The first day I just wore my sandals, no socks. On Tuesday, Carol, she’s the assistant principal, and also a teacher, told Christina that in Korea it is rude for men to not wear socks. I am not sure why Carol told Christina because I was sitting right next to Christina. It must be another cultural thing. She did not think it was proper to tell me that I should wear socks, I don’t know. Then she told Christina that it is not appropriate for teachers to sit on the desks, which is another habit that I have. When I get tired of standing, I just sit on a desk for a while, but I guess I won’t do that anymore. I don’t know what I will do because there is not a chair in my classroom for me to sit on. After I found out that I shouldn’t sit on the desks, I started sitting in an empty chair that was not being used by the students.
Despite all of the cultural differences, I am so excited to teach English here. The students are so fun, it is exciting to learn new teaching strategies, and I just can’t wait to get back to the classroom!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

20mm cannons on one of the ships we visited

OK, lets play guess what Christina is doing....I will tell you in a later post.
These are the larva that I ate.

This is Christina holding up our dinner, a dried squid, just kidding about the dinner part. Christina gags is you say the word fish, and if she smells fish, she gags harder. You might think she is grimacing to make a good picture, but that is her reaction to anything thtat comes out of the water.
OK, lets play gues what Christina is doing again....

This is our view of the sunset, we see this every evening, it is pretty cool.