Sunday, August 26, 2012

Typhoon Bolaven is coming

This is what's coming and that arrow points to where we are

If you can see the above image, you can guess the focus of this post.  A large typhoon is headed for Jeju.  It will hit Monday evening here (Monday morning in the US).  As of right now, both Vicky and I are expected to come to work despite this.  The predicted wind speeds are sustained winds around 60-100 mph with stronger gusts.  That plus rain does not sound like fun to be out in.  This is the path the typhoon is expected to take.  The eye won't pass directly over us but it will be plenty close enough.

Jeju is the island just North-East of the eye at 9pm Monday

So for all who are reading this I have a simple request.  Please pray for our safety as well as the safety of our island home.  I don't expect a ton of damage but this is a Category 3 hurricane rolling over us.  Prayer certainly can't hurt and would be greatly appreciated.

PS.  If you want to track the progress of the storm, you can do so here
and here

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Liberation Day = vacation day!

Jeju sunset

Nothing beats a random weekday off for a holiday you didn't even realize was coming up.  And that's exactly what we got today as Korea celebrated Liberation Day.  This celebration marks the surrender of Japan to end World War II on August 15, 1945, which freed Korea from it's colonial yoke.

For the previous 35 years, Korea had been ruled by the Empire of Japan which had done everything in it's power to destroy Korean culture.  The goal was integration but the result was near annihilation.  The resentment and anger this period produced still lingers today.  Sadly the independence gained would be short-lived before the country was split in half and war again consumed it.  But Koreans, both North and South, celebrate this day as the beginning of their glorious futures (though how glorious the North's future has been is, let's tactfully say, debatable).

We celebrated by catching up on some much needed sleep, spending time with friends and watching a parade from our 7th floor windows.  Basically we enjoyed Saturday on a Wednesday and that's always cause for a smile :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Not listening in my class? Busted!

Jeju City on a cool rainy day

This has been a very boring week.  So I'll leave you with one funny story and hope for a better report next week (i only have to work on Monday and Tuesday due to a national holiday Wednesday and the school choosing to be closed Thursday and Friday!)

Remember the class I told you about that never talks?  Of course you do!  The boys are getting more talkative but the girls remain determined to be unsociable and taciturn.  I tested this recently by asking about their weekends.  The boys said they played soccer and computer games.  So far so good.  When I asked the girls what they did, they stared at their desks and shook their heads.

Did you play soccer?
Did you play games?
Did you see a movie?
(with a grin towards the boys)  Did you eat food?

At this the boys started laughing and the girls looked up trying to figure out why.  The boys explained in Korean while still giggling.  The girls turned appropriately red at being busted not listening and participation was better for the rest of class.  Victory!

The school behind our building

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Happy Birthday to me

Some moments you just have to stop and enjoy

For those of you who remembered my birthday on Friday, thank you.  I had a great day and a great Saturday too.  For those who forgot .... shame on  you!  My students remembered my birthday and I didn't even tell them.  They wrote birthday messages all over my white board and behaved extra well.  The other two English teachers even brought me cakes and pastries.  The pastries I would describe as dry bread with bread filling.  But the thought was sweet.

However, Vicky outdid them all by finding a piece of chocolate cake!  And the next day she took me out for a great lunch, then went screen golfing with me.  It was her first time to really ever try golf.  By the end of our 9 holes, not only was she hitting the ball consistently, she even made par on the final hole!  I was so proud.  To paraphrase George of the Jungle, "Luke good teacher!"

A small island, only visible on the clearest of days

Vicky's first week went pretty well.  Since the last teacher in her school had never heard of the word "discipline", she inherited a few wild classes.  This has led to many amusing stories that began "Guess how much I got to yell at the little troublemakers today!"  I fully support this method since taking joy in discipline early means you'll get to take joy from a well behaved class later.

My own classes are fine.  I have one middle school boy who took 3 months to say his first words to Jess, the former teacher.  I got him talking, albeit extremely quietly, on day 2.  He doesn't always answer questions and never above a whisper but at least I've got him to engage and that i'm quite proud of.  Ironically my biggest problem class isn't one that talks too much but one that talks too little.  They answer questions correctly at a whisper and don't like games.  I nearly always finish with over half the class time remaining and no way to continue to force them to talk.  Fortunately there are much worse problems to have.  For now i'm off to enjoy a nice warm day outside.  TTFN.

 Sunset over the sea