Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Saturday, August 28, 2010

South Korean Journal -- Part V

August 3, 2010

I am trying to get out to run and walk in the mornings as much as possible, though it is often difficult for me to log any kind of respectable mileage (by my coach's standards at least!) in such intense heat and humidity here, which can already be felt at 7 a.m. I have several marathons and my second JFK 50 Miler to prepare for this fall. I am trying not to beat myself up over this, though, as my time away in Korea was meant to be a welcome break from my usual hard year-round training. My training is bound to get back to normal (and where it needs to be) after this trip and our Utah adventure, especially once school resumes.

Meanwhile, my time in Korea continues to fly. And I must say that I am having "a damn good time," as fellow volunteer Zarina would say. Though the language barrier may be difficult and impossible at times, I am doing my best to make the most of everything, go with the flow, and treat this incredible experience as a real eye-opening cultural exchange. Not a bad idea.

Today we lived, breathed, and completely consumed ourselves with preparations for the global festival. It was challenging, tedious, and monotonous at times, but hopefully, ALL of our efforts will soon pay off!

Boy, am I exhausted! It was an excruciatingly long day but well worth all the efforts, I believe. All four of my performances went well, and the audience especially enjoyed my singing, which felt gratifying. I felt most proud of my solo of the American national anthem during our anthem medley and of our group's drum performance. We sounded like professionals! All of our practice certainly paid off. We were even reunited with the younger students from last week, whom I genuinely miss, and it was heart-breaking to have to say goodbye to them again, this time probably for good. :(

Many locals attended our cultural festival, including other international volunteers from another workcamp. One of them is a professional choreographer from Canada who performed a beautiful dance for us. It was a truly special evening filled with music, memories, laughs, hard work, and collective pride and desire for world peace. I certainly think we will all sleep well tonight...

August 5, 2010

I love the sound of soft rain hitting the roof in the wee hours of the morning. What a welcome invitation to sleep! Unfortunately, my alarm went off way too soon afterward. I ate a large breakfast and was delighted to learn that we had an extra hour before we had to leave (translation: just enough time for a long walk and alone time! I had already showered, so a good run was out of the question. Oh well).

After more sporadic bouts of downpour and a long, sleepy bus ride, we trekked one of the mountains on the island adjacent to Mt. Hala, which was about 1,200 meters high. I enjoyed leading everyone up in about half the time it's supposed to take to climb (Me? Competitive? Never! Haha). I impressed myself with my ability to remain relaxed and calm at the top, despite the severe drops and expansive panoramic views of towering mountains. My husband chuckles when I proclaim my fear of heights, as I have climbed some of the most difficult mountains in the world. My fear does exist, I know; it's just a matter of learning how to mentally control it. The mind is such a powerful thing.

Luckily, the sun came and stayed out, making it an ideal beach afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed being a true Pisces and fish in the water, even when it started to rain. Unfortunately, we somehow lost the key to our van, so let's hope we're not here all night looking for it! Ahhhh!

It's hard to believe that I will be leaving Jeju in less than 48 hours. I have genuinely enjoyed the workcamp experience here and am already eager to enroll in a different camp in a new country next summer, if at all possible. Two main frustrations have arisen for me, though: the large amount of down time required to be with the kids (that could easily be turned into a bit of well-deserved down time for the volunteers) and the overwhelming majority of language being spoken in Korean. This cuases me to truly feel like an outsider at times. It also requires a great deal of effort to get to know the older kids, as they are SO shy and reluctant to speak English.

Regardless, I am still trying to make the most of this experience and become a better person for doing so. While we never found the van key and had to take the bus to downtown Jeju (while Mr. Moon drove back to his house for the spare key), we divided into our three teams (Mine is love, obviously!) and had dinner, etc. My group ate some really funky -- and a bit unappetizing -- Hawaiian-style pizza at Mr. Pizza. The salad bar was stuffed with what looked like everything but actual salad, even offering plain yogurt with cereal! Quite bizarre. We then headed to the ever-popular Digital Photo Picture Shop, where the nine of us posed in a tiny single photo booth for both serious and funny shots together. They will be memorable keepsakes indeed.

We ended the nigh playing fun board games at a downtown cafe and had ice cream from the Family Mart on the corner. I cannot tell you the amount of ice cream I've consumed in the past two weeks -- not to mention the two small slices of pizza tonight -- but I am beyond grateful for not a single GI reaction to any of it. Hopefully, I haven't jinxed myself!

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