Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fun Week!

Well this week was actually more exciting than the last. 

At my after school program I run the Fun Based Activities class.  Basically I play games/sing songs/watch videos/make crafts for an hour and a half twice a week.  It is absurdly easy work that is fun about 90% of the time.  The other 10% the kids are annoying, haha.  This week I spent almost half of every class playing "What's The Time Mr. Wolf?" It is basically an Australia hybrid of Red Light/Green Light and Mother May I.  The kids had a blast and I think I tired them out at least a little bit.

Here are some photos of my students from various classes looking crazy:

On Wednesday, I met wit Sang Ah for tutoring.  We didn't meet Monday night because she wasn't feeling well.  We spent about 40 minutes going through the book and then I pulled out one of the fashion magazines that my Aunt Janice sent and we talked about famous people for about 45 minutes.  It was really good practice for her and it was funny to hear who she thought was the most beautiful, least attractive, etc.  We talked about actor, actresses, sports icons, etc.  She thought I was crazy when I said I would choose Park Taehwan over David Beckham any day.  Thankfully we were able to bridge our cultural gap with the international love of Zac Efron.

Cross culturally adorable.

I was also intrigued to find out that Sang Ah never really went to high school.  She plays golf competitively and apparently here you are able to opt out of high school after 9th grade.  She played golf all day and she would attend school once a week.  That day she would meet one-on-one with a teacher who was kind of like an advisor I guess.  I am not totally clear how that works, and with the language barrier it was a little difficult to ask more questions.  I am going to ask my coworkers if they know what the deal is.  Sang Ah said that you can't opt out completely any more, but you can get early release if you area really into a sport/performance type/etc.  Interesting.

In the afternoon on Thursday we had an honest-to-god air raid drill.  Like I was living in the US in the 1950s.  I was sitting at my desk Facebooking (as I am wont to do on a weekday afternoon) when all of a sudden I started hearing the sirens.  Then, pretty much instantaneously the statuses started popping up "Is anyone else in Seoul hearing the sirens?"  "Whoa, anyone else getting that broadcast?"  I asked my coteachers and they explained that it is a drill that occurs every other month on the fifteenth.  When the sirens go off, all traffic and buses stop so that military convoys can go down the streets.  Fighter jets fly over to check stuff out.  Apparently it is nation wide.  It is kind of a scary reminder of how serious the situation with North Korea continues to be, even when it feels like there is really no effect on my day-to-day life.  Apparently they used to have the drills monthly and the kids had to get under their desks, so I guess this is an improvement!  Here is a video someone made last year that will give you a feeling for what we heard:

Thursday big day) was also our school's performance after classes were over.  Two teams were picked from each grade to perform either a song, dance, skit, or instrumental number.  Sadly they didn't start until about 2:20pm, and I had to leave for after school at 3:00pm, so I missed all the older kids who I actually teach.  The little ones I did see were SO FREAKING CUTE though!

Tiny little girl in a hanbok singing a traditional Korean song.


Or, possibly, the Lollipop Guild.

First graders in PRECIOUS costumes singing.

Their song covered the history of Korea, from dynasties long ago through the 2008 Olympics.  Each child would come otu when their part of the song was sung.  It was great!

Some older girls/boys singing.  Not sure what this was about, haha.

Second grade instrumental performace.  They were wearing these hilarious little pink sailor suits.  Priceless.

Beautiful ballet dancer.

Friday night I ventured up to Brigid's apartment in the northern reaches of Seoul for a delicious beef galbi dinner.  So good.

Yesterday was a jam-packed day.  It started with meeting Chicago Laura at the Sports Complex station for the Seoul Design Olympiad.  We were supposed to meet at 11am, but I was running late so I decided to take a taxi.  The first two cabs I flagged down did not understand the destination "Jamsil Sports Complex" or "Olympic Stadium."  Sports Complex is the name of the metro station, so I thought that would be easy, but apparently not.  Finally I went into Paris Baguette and the girl there wrote it down in Korean for me.  Life saver!  Just after the taxi took off, Laura called and said she was running late.  This gve me some time to get breakfast and read for a bit before she arrived, so it worked out pretty well.

Laura is a graphic designer who was jonesing for a design fix and I am so glad she suggested we go to the Design Olympiad.  Held in the Olympic Stadium from the '88 Summer games, this was a huge design expo that covered everything from textiles, to architecture, to interior design, to product design to meet specific needs, to graphic design and brand marketing, to fashion.  It was awesome!  At various places around the stadium there were Haechi sculptures design by different groups.  Think of the Cows on Parade, or the fish in Baltimore or Miles of Mules in NEPA.  There were Haechis of every size and shape and design!

These Design Olympiad posters have been all around the city for a whie now.

Awesome Haechi made out of recycled bottles.

I love the texture he has.

Laura and I with our new friend.  So cute!

A whole herd of Haechis.

The stadium was all decorated and the exhibits were in these huge bubble tents.

One of my favorite exhibits was the one on recycled/green materials.  They had some awesome stuff.  I want these plants preserved in resin in my house!

All different resin based materials.


I also loved some of the recycled lighting fixtures.

Wouldn't it be cool to have a space themed room with those meteor lights?

Some of the product designs really made me laugh.

Funny and cute.

Please check out the "Safe Sex" work gloves in the back, all decorated with condoms.

Illustration in a book.  If there is one important thing I've learned in Korea, it is that pandas poop green tea.

After walking around for a while, Laura and I sat down to watch a fashion show rehearsal.  Let's just say it was no ANTM or Project Runway, haha.  The clothes were fun, though, and the models must have been FREEZING!

My personal favorite is the guy 4 people in from the right with the super furry half jacket and leather pant.  Magnificent look.

One especially interesting announcement was made while we were there, informing us of H1N1 screenings that were taking place as people walked around and how if we had any symptoms (ie- the congestion and runny nose I've had since I arrived in Korea) we should go to the medical tent.  Probably needless to say, I did not.  Each time you went from one exhibit area to the next you had to go through these "Clean Zones".  In them, they watched you put on "hand sanitizer," and they fogged you with some sort of machine.  One even had a biometric scanner thing that was reading our body temperatures as we walked through! Crazy town!

Not sure this really helps prevet anything...

There was also a children's area that had these cool activities for kids (shows, huge play ground, green cooking classes) and bizarre sculptures.

Half rhino half bird?  Part lion part dinosaur?  Sure! Why not?!

Moral of the story, it was awesome and I plan on going back to make some purchases before it closes.

After leaving Olympic Stadium, Laura and I headed over to the World Cup Stadium for the FC Seoul soccer game.  You know what?  I LOVE SOCCER.  I love the energy and excitement of the crowd, I love the movement on the field, I love it.  At the stadium we met up with Erich, Frank and South African Laura.  We got our tickets (in the correct area this time) and headed down to our seats.  Now this stadium is huge, with a capacity of morethan 45,000 people.  There were many many open seats last night.  The game was between the Seoul team (ranked #2) and the Busan team (ranked #11).  It (sadly) ended in a 2-2 tie, but it was quite a good game.  Definitely less agressive than American or European soccer.  There was a crazy cheering section for Seoul (think Barra Brava at DC United games) with huge flags, lots of cheering, jumping, and singing.  Unlike the DC fan sections, however, these fan sections are DIRECTLY behind the team goal for the first half of the game.  So anytime you run down to try and score on the other team, you are faced with an entire section of crazy fans!  The game was tons of fun and I can't wait to go to the next one.

The stadium at dusk.  So pretty.  As you can see, the Busan side was kind of lacking. (Even though they have the red "Special Chicken Zone" on the visitor side.)

Diehard Seoul fans.  Can we talk about that flag real quick?  I think they stole it from DC United!  The colors for the two teams are the same, but we definitely don't have an eagle logo...

Busan (bad guys) in white, Seoul (good guys) in red.

Every time the home team scored, FIREWORKS went off.  It was sweet.  Except for the smoke afterwards.

Lyrics to the support chants were shown on the big screen.
Direct translation:
Ohohoh oh ~ oh!
Ohohoh oh ~ oh!
Ohohoh oh ~ oh! Seoul!
(I can't read most of the last line because it is too blurry)

South Africa Laura, Me, Frank, Chicago Laura

Fan/Noise maker that I bought for 80cents.


Enjoying some cold beers on a chilly night.  I snuck into the back of this picture.

Group pic with the awesome scarf I bought.
SA Laura, Me, Frank, Chicago Laura, Erich

After the game, SA Laura and I decided to go downstairs in the stadium to the movie theater and catch a movie.  Yes.  The World Cup Stadium has an entire shopping mall and movie theater under it.  Awesome.  We had about an hour to kill before our movie started so we had some Cold Stone and talked for a while.  Then we saw District 9. It was a very well done movie that really made me think about the way humans have historically mistreated anyone who is different from them.  It was also interesting seeing it with someone from South Africa (where the movie takes place) because she was then telling me about how it was really just a huge commentary on South African politics ranging from actions during the apartheid to recent riots against foreigners and refugees.  It was impossible to watch the movie and what they were doing to the aliens without thinking about the times human beings have been in that place as well.  Very interesting.  I was nice to have someone to take the loooong subway ride home with, and I crashed soon afterwe arrived home.

Since yesterday was so busy, I am looking forward to relaxing today and doing a little cleaning.  Plus I see some Pizza School in my futue...

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