Sunday, July 8, 2012

On the Road Again!

Back again! It's been awhile....and things have happened but I'm back to blogging.

Since Korea I've been working...just chilling in the basement of the medical centre. But, in March there was an add in the bulletin for a mission trip to Japan. And now...I'm sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to start boarding.

More updates to follow!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On my way to class this afternoon I stepped out the office door only to jump right back. There was a fresh trail of blood leading all the way down from somewhere on the second floor (it went past where I was headed) to the nurses office.

I've seen this before but only small drops that seem fairly containable. By the time the students went to their classrooms it looked like someone had spread red paint down the hallway.

As I walked up the stairs one of the special Ed kids ran after me yelling " PI, PI, PI, PI!!!" (Pi, or 피 is a Korean word for blood)

I felt like I was walking into a scene from a horror movie.

Proud Parent

While I'm not exactly in a parental position at this school I'm still quite proud of at least one teacher.

Corporal punishment is slowly falling out of favour in Korea but, in schools like mine, it still exists. When I ask my teachers about it they say they don't know where they would begin to control 1000 teenage boys. My guess is that for many of the older teachers they were never formally taught other methods of punishment besides hitting their delinquent students with sticks.

I often find myself bearing witness to these punishments as the Detention teacher sits in my office. I'm sure he sees no reason to punish them elsewhere. Next to him sits a P.E. teacher who is also involved in various disciplinary measures.

Today I saw something new....and improved? methods of punishment.

The students were made to do burpies for a certain amount of time (they stopped whenever the teacher wandered off) and then sent outside to collect garbage. With exams next week, high school entrance tests in a month, and rain pouring down outside (which is where they had to collect garbage) keeping these kids from their classes and out in the rain seem like fitting punishments to me.

The Life and Times of a Soccer Ball

When I arrived at my school I inherited a soccer ball from my predecessor. Once the students realised I had it and was willing to lend it out they would often come by at lunchtime to ask to borrow it. More often than not I would not be at my desk when they wanted they would take it. Usually they would return it....but sometimes they didn't. Eventually I never saw it again. Since there were still students asking to "borrow a ball" I went to the local sports store and bought a new one.

Long before it's time, the soccer ball became flat. It softened to a point but didn't flatten the students kept borrowing it. It was perfect for their needs: A version of monkey in the middle where the ball is kicked/thrown at the monkey in order to hit him. If the 'monkey' catches it, his changes positions with the person who kicked/threw the ball.

I guess they were better off with a soft soccer ball.

Anyways, they would play this game under, and around the very tall trees lining the entrance to my school. At times the ball would get kicked high into the air and fall through the trees. I always wondered if any of the ball got stuck in the trees....

I was about to find out.

I've been a bit of a nazi about getting the soccer ball back at the end of the lunch hour. One day this week they didn't bring it back. After class in the afternoon I went upstairs to confront the students I knew had had it last. One of them is a particular favourite from the month long winter camp we had in January. I saw him in the hallway and approached him:

Me: Hyeon Jun, where's my soccer ball?
HJ: Hehehehehe. I don't know....hehehehe.
Me: What do you mean you don't know?
HJ: Weeeeellll......hehehehehehe.
Me: Where's the ball?
HJ: Teacher...uh, friend kick the ball....ball goes whoosh...*points upwards*...*keeps looking up*....ball is in a tree.
Me: It's in a tree? Which tree?
HJ: *waves in the direction of the front gate*...Hehehehehe
Me: *sigh.

On my way home, passing under the trees, I tried to look for the ball. I couldn't see it anywhere.
The next day, yesterday, I was walking outside at lunchtime. Hyeon Jun and his friends saw me and pulled me over. They point up...up...up into a tree. Sure enough, about 40 or 50 feet up, caught at the crux of three branches, was my soccer ball.

When I asked who put it there they just laughed....except one student who was standing in the back, pointing to another student. When I asked his name and called him out....he ran away.

I went back later to find them desperately trying to retrieve the ball.

First, they tried to climb the tree. Fail.
Second, they tried to throw brooms up to knock it out. Fail. And loss of several brooms.
Third, they tried to throw another, miniature soccer ball (mine as well) up in the tree. Fail. I took it away.

The day ended and the ball was still there. It was still there when I came to school this morning. Looks like I left my mark on this school.

Until the next big storm anyways.


I've always wanted to ride in those scooters old people use. They look really comfortable and easy...if a little slow.

I've seen a limited number of them around Korea. But last week I saw one being used by people I did not expect.

I was walking down the street into town. The after school classes at my school had just been let out and there were a large number of students walking around. I waved and nodded and smiled to the ones to saw me and said hi but kept walking.

Then I heard someone call my name.

I turned around expecting to see a student riding a bike, or walking....or something.

Nope. Two students, one, admittedly, with a broken leg or something, were riding an old persons scooter, trucking their way through traffic on their way home.


The boys at my school are very...physically affectionate. When I first arrived it was....a little shocking. By now I've gotten used to least I thought I was.

Just the other day there was more...loving behaviour.

A particularly earnest student was sitting in the front of the class. His friend, a not to earnest student, walked in late and promptly sat at the back of the class. The earnest one decided he preferred to sit with his friend than in the front desk by himself. He moved back quickly and before long they were chatting together as they usually do when they sit together. I figured I would put a stop to it right away. I went to their desks and asked the more earnest student, let's call him Kim, to move away from his friend, Choi, and come back to the front.

Kim's reaction to leaving his friend? Kissing him on the cheek, looking him in the eye, and saying goodbye as if they'd never see each other again.


The Korean male types I have had contact with in this country have not been the most chivalrous of people...particularly my students. But, on occasion, they will have a lapse in their usual rudeness....for example...

A student and I were trying to go into the same office door at the same time. Not wanting to get in the way of his cleaning duties (he was looking for a garbage bag....not important) I was prepared to step back and let him go first. To my surprise he not only opened the door and stepped back for me to go through...he said, in a very mannerly tone, "Ladies first."

I was so taken aback I could do no more than stutter a thank you and wander, dazed, back to my desk, where I sat speechless for some time.