Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The First Official Tim Tam Slam Jam

The Lord's Bounty

Last night, some of us Ugly Americans displayed our ignorance further by not knowing what the world-famous  Tim Tams are.  

These chocolate biscuits are a product of Australia, and are said to induce near orgasmic pleasure in those who indulge in them and dunk them in tea.  Or rather they were a purely Australian product before the great satan bought the company--buahahahaa!    

  I dunno about toe-curling extacy, but we managed to have an entertaining get-together tonight in Amanda and I's room with a bunch of folks from our group and beyond.  During the evening of chocolate and Australian TV on Youtube, we were graced with the presence of: Jeremy, Steven, Carrie, Roger, Grant, Scott, Glenn, Amanda, Jacqui, and your truly. 

The Batmen Steven and Jeremy.  One has The Joker's laugh, and the other can do quite a disturbing impression of Heath Ledger's Joker.  Wanna see a magic trick? 

It has been suggested that this Tim Tam tradition continue, even after we are shuttled off to our different schools.  We're building a federation, held together by general area, cell phones, Facebook, and blogs.  

We're going to need all the help we can get because word on the street is that all of us in the TaLK program are embroiled in a political drama that transcends our humble lot.  The rumor I've been hearing is  that opponents to president Lee-Myung Bak may be quite pleased if the TaLK program fails.    

Personally, I think the program will probably be a success--if nothing else it has the potential to inject some youthful energy into the English education system here.  Can I get a witness?   Check back later.   

Given the rumors, I'm not surprised the amount of news coverage we've received so far.  Yours truly was interviewed by a reporter from the Chosun Ilbo, and here I was trying to keep a low profile, and I've been on Korean TV too.    I'm still looking for the brief clips, and will post if they're ever found.   

By the way, have you ever seen where I am?   Our group is living and learning at Dongguk University in Gyeongju city since last Thursday or so.  Dongguk is a Buddhist-affiliated university and has been in existence since 1906.  Apparently all the regular students are on Summer Break, so we have the run of the place.  This is unfortunate, as we are growing restless and running out of toilet paper.  

The official front of Dongguk U.

Symbol and mascot of the school 

Cafeteria of torment

View from my room window when it was cloudy

The instruction here has been heavy on the philosophical, as it has been explained to us that our goal should not be to "teach English" in the traditional sense.  Our job is to inspire the children to have a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards English and speaking English.  We are to develop good relationships with our students, and develop lessons that make the most of this rare opportunity to speak and interact with a native English speaker.  We are to inspire, challenge, and enable them to think on their own.  At least, that's what I've drawn from it.  The progress of the students should be measured in fluency rather than accuracy.  The kids' regular instruction in school with dry repetition and even drier textbooks is not the sort of learning environment we are trying to create.  Since we're teaching an after school program, we have more flexibility.   

Earlier this week, we visited a school where we got to interact with some of the kids.  They seemed to appreciate us being there, and they're mighty cute.  Kids are especially good with ketchup on rye.  

Okay,  so only those two on the end are kids.  

So far it's been fun or  at very least interesting. Many of us TaLKers have taken Korean classes, and gotten introduced to Taekwondo, Zen meditation, Hanja papercraft, and traditional Korean dance.   I got nothing to complain about.  I've already experienced more interesting stuff in these short weeks than my whole year in Korea back in '04.  

 Tomorrow is our last official day here, and after that we will be spirited away to the areas we'll be teaching for one more week of local training.  I'll be in Ulsan.  As usual, we have no idea exactly what the future holds for next week, but does anyone ever?  



Friday, August 15, 2008

TaLK Life Pt. 1

Wait!  You still have so much to live for!

Look, I'll show you!  

We talk scholars attend class all day almost every day.  Some of our speakers have had helpful information presented in a stimulating way.  Others, not so much.  

Still, this is an extraordinary opportunity to expand our horizons.  I wonder what sort of people we will be afterwards.  What sort of teachers.   Are we too young and immature?  Or we rise to the occasion, even greater than expected?   But I don't care much if classes here are boring or exiting.  Even now, I've received a lot more useful information than last time.   

Iro na!!

Aww, young love.  

Take it off!

Our orientation in Gyeongju, the place where we are learning to be compassionate, and  employ firm yet kind correction with our young students.  

Personally, as far as discipline goes, I prefer the good old fashioned Board of Education.    


Sunday, August 10, 2008

You know you're in Korea...

When you see an MV like this:   


Your Weekend Bows its Head in Shame when it Sees Mine Part 2

View upon emerging from Hwarangdae station.

Sunday, I took a personal journey back to the old neighborhood.

View from the train crossing the Han river. 

Nothing but pimps, hustlers, and drug dealers.  Looks like I'll have to clean up this town again.  

Next I went to Gwangwhamun station's Kyobo Bookstore  to buy a few art supplies among other things.  I'm making a stationary gift for my future principal, VP, and co-teacher.  Gift-giving is a part of the culture.  We shall grease the wheels of diplomacy with what's left of my art talent, seeing as I have no interpersonal skills.  

NO MAS!!   



Your Weekend Bows It's Head in Shame When it Sees Mine

Insa-dong mini water garden. If y'all in the States had these, you know they'd be mostly full of trash, pennies, cigarette butts, and gum.  

No great pictures at Insa-dong or at the Blue House.  Insa-dong was mostly touristy shops, and there were photo restrictions at the Blue House.  It began to rain, and I had nothing to protect the camera.

Security guard at Cheong Wa Dae:  "No hittin', spittin', kissin' or cussin'!!"


Don't hate.  Jealousy is such an ugly emotion.