Archive for September, 2011



Until a few days ago, I hadn’t had much direct contact with the Principal Of Our School. The few things I did know about Him – gleaned through conversation with Charles and other teachers, or through my fleeting exchanges with him – can be summed up thus: He is new to the school this year and speaks no English, yet sees it integral to a young Korean’s future success and will be putting his full force behind its teaching/learning at his school. He battled through stomach cancer and now sees life as an opportunity to be seized with both hands and as such is a major workaholic. He seems relatively friendly and social compared to some other principals I’ve heard about (He gave me a high five when I was on his team during the first volleyball session; and that time I mentioned a while ago when all the teachers went out to enjoy a meal in his honour – He paid, plied us with Soju and then took us to a karaoke bar). Most interestingly, He instills a kind of fearful respect in everyone at the school from youngest student (even the naughtiest, most rebellious child falls silent at the very sight of Him) to most experienced teacher (meetings with Him are conducted in one’s smartest outfit and in a high-pitched quiver). This is especially funny as He’s no taller than about 4’3″. Read the rest of this entry »


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Back In Action


Wednesday’s exercise day. All the teachers gather together at 3pm in the sports hall to play a volleyball-tennis-football hybrid: two teams, one on either side of a tennis net; the aim of the game is to hit a volleyball over the net within certain lines so that the other team can’t return it with three touches or fewer; girls can use their hands, boys can use anything else. Then the girls leave, the net is raised, and the boys remain to play some serious volleyball. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve never really known what Thanksgiving is. So when I found myself sat at a bar with a group of North Americans discussing their version of the holiday, I asked about it. Apparently, hundreds of years ago, some pilgrims crossed the Atlantic Ocean (from Plymouth, UK to somewhere in the USA; or from somewhere in the UK to Plymouth, USA – I forget).  The pilgrims presented warm blankets to the indigenous American Indians they encountered, but these blankets carried smallpox and so the Indians all died. I still don’t know what the real origins of the holiday are, but what I do know is that the Korean version – Chuseok – is a harvest celebration; and that it means three days off work. These three days off work (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday just gone) were the reasons I found myself sat at a bar with a group of North Americans in the first place, but I’ll get to that shortly. Read the rest of this entry »


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A Different Perspective


They’ve been eye-opening, that’s for sure, my first few days of regular school. As helpful as orientation was, there’s only so much theory you can take to a classroom, and to say I was nervous as I loaded up my introductory PowerPoint for my first group of 6th graders on Friday morning (Thursday was actually a ‘ceremony day’ and I wasn’t required to teach) would be an understatement to say the least. Read the rest of this entry »

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