Monday, December 21, 2009

New Books

Recently, here at Dongbu Elementary School, my co-teacher and I were given a stipend with which to buy some materials for the English classroom. On the top of both of our lists was books. So we ordered a collection of traditional western and Korean fairy tales written in English, with accompanying animated DVDs. While the western books were familiar titles to me (Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.), the Korean books were, for me, a little peek into the childhood of Koreans.

I was intrigued by titles such as "Rabbit's Liver," "Return Kindness, Toad," and "Golden Dung Cat." But still one book aroused my interest above all the others.

And so, without further ado, I'd like to share with you one of my new favorite Korean traditional stories:

Thunder Farting Daughter-in-Law
A long time ago, there lived a good hearted daughter-in-law. But as time went by, she got so lean. Mr. Kim worried, and asked, "Are you okay? Are you sick?"

His daughter-in-law's face turned red and answered, "I've never farted. That's why." Her father-in-law listened and laughed.

"Baby, just fart!"

"My fart is so strong," she said. "So father, hold on tightly to the door handle."
Mr. Kim held it like his daughter-in-law said.

'Pop, Pop, Pop' it was like thunder! Alarmed, Mr. Kim got angry and drove her out. The daughter-in-law met nine silk traders under the persimmon trees. The silk traders wanted to eat the delicious persimmons. But they were too high in the tree, so they could not pick them. The daughter-in-law said she would pick the fruit for them.
"If you pick the persimmon, I'll give you all the silk and donkeys," one silk trader said.
The daughter-in-law farted as hard as she could under the persimmon tree.


The sound of the fart made the fruit fall down. The daughter-in-law got silk and donkeys. Her husband had followed her and saw the whole thing.

"The ability to fart like thunder is so useful! Let's go home together," he said.

Mr. Kim listened to the story and danced with joy.

"My daughter-in-law's fart is the gold!"

The End

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ping Pong

For the past two weeks, Dongbu Elementary School students in grades 4-6 have been involved in an epic ping pong battle royale.

Mr. Choi, explaining the delicate nature of the competition.Split into two divisions (boys and girls) students initially took on their own classmates, but the championship round will pit the two best of each gender against each other, regardless of grade.
Mr. Choi, my main co-teacher and Korean best friend, explains how to kick some ping pong butt!

This week marks the lead up to the final round, and every student at Dongbu is gritting their teeth in anticipation. "WHO WILL WIN?" I hear them muttering at lunch. For you see--the winners walk away with a 10,000 won gift certificate that can be used at a variety of online vendors as well as brick and mortar book stores.As is the way of things--to the victor go the spoils. And for the defeated, only humiliation, isolation, and ridicule await.

I'm not kidding--my kids are really taking it THIS seriously.

Here's a video of the end of one of the matches: >.<
The kid swinging the broom around was charged with the task of keeping people from getting too close to the action, which he took to mean "swat at 4th graders as much as you can."

May the best ping ponger win!

A Student Letter

Today as I was walking through the halls of Youngnam Elemetnary School on my way to my 3rd hour class, I was stopped by the same little 3rd grade girl who used to resist leaving my classroom until she could tell me, "Teacher, I love you!" and give me a great big hug. She was awestruck for a moment, but then reached out her hands to present me with a handmade envelope, complete with pencil drawn arrow in case I didn't know how to open this strange device.
I told her (in Korean) that I was on my way to a class and couldn't open it just then. She said, "Ok!" and ran down the hall with a smile. But as soon as I got into my next class and started the movie we were watching today, I opened it up as carefully as I could to preserve her sticker-sealing system. Inside was a simple, but endearing note:Thank you, Young-eun!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Though I have no photographic or video evidence of it, on Saturday night foreigners from Andong and the surrounding area gathered for a feast of such epic proportions (and portions) that it must have rivaled that of the earliest Thanksgiving dinners. Our friend Alissa, who was blessed with a cavernous, ground-floor apartment, offered her place up to us as a venue. I never thought we would be able to pack 19 people comfortably into one of our tiny Asian apartments, but we did it!

The guest list included almost every EPIK teacher in Andong, plus a hagwon (private English school teacher), and a few EPIKers from out of town. We also had a Brit and an Aussie to share our day with, which marked both of their first Thanksgivings.

Though I had some early fear that the meal would not sufficiently feed the massive turnout, the menu wound up being bountiful and delicious:

-Fresh tossed salad
-Deviled eggs
-Cheese and crackers
-6 Rotisserie chickens (Turkey is a little expensive/difficult to cook here)
-10 lbs of mashed potatoes and gravy
-Turkey gravy and mushroom and onion gravy
-Twice baked potatoes
-Sauteed zucchini and almonds
-Cinnamon and sugar apples
-StoveTop Stuffing
-Dinner rolls
-Fruit Salad
-Steamed broccoli with cheese
-Pumpkin pie
-Pumpkin casserole

It was absolutely a meal fit for kings.

I can't say enough how thankful I am not only for a good job and many great experiences here, but also that I can share it all with so many great friends. Cheers to the Andong crew for making Thanksgiving feel absolutely authentic and reminding me of one of the reasons why I decided to stay for another year.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!