Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guess what we made!!

We made a button.  All by ourselves.  Well, not completely by ourselves.  We used the internet to figure out how to do it.  This blog helped a lot.  But the really difficult part was designing the button.  When we purchased Kyle's computer, we were really excited because it had photoshop.  But I'm photoshop illiterate, and I'm not good at teaching myself stuff.  I mean, I can, but it takes so long, and requires so much practice, and lets face it, I'm impatient. But, one evening, after watching The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was a pretty great film, mostly out of boredom, we decided to try. Well, Kyle, wasn't as excited as I was, but he was more than willing to indulge me. So we thought of an idea.  I found a picture, and he found the yellow brick road image.  And then, an hour and some change later, we figured out how to merge the two into an image, well, Kyle did.  It was a very exciting moment for the two of us.  And then, we had to learn how to do the HTML code, which is very very specific, and if you mess even a tiny piece of it up, it can screw up the entire image.  This took a while as well because we did mess up pieces of the code.  But close to three hours later, we had our button.

What is a button?  It's basically a fancy link. It's a way to brand your blog.  If another blogger follows my blog for example, they can take the button, and put it on the side of their blog, as a quick, and colorful way of advertising the blogs that they read.  I have a few on the side of my blog, you might have noticed.

And since we worked so hard on this button, we'd LOVE (with a capitol L) if you'd display our button on your sidebar!!!

(The button code has been fixed since the last time- try it out and let me know)

How to grab the button?
 copy  the HTML on the side under the heading "Grab a button". Make a text widget on your sidebar, and paste it in.  The end.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bloopers Reel

At the beginning of the year, when I was still in the Education department (not in preschool) I was asked to make a culture class.  I searched the internet for hours for a video about gestures that ESL students would understand.  Coming up empty handed, I decided to try and make my own. An easy enough endeavor, I thought to myself. WRONG!! I spent over 20 hours putting that little seven minute film together.  The wonderful thing about that video, is that its not used at our school.  The cultural class, I was specifically requested to design was not employed.  Hours upon hours, seriously, I spent weeks on this powerpoint that currently just sits on the Intranet drive taking up space.  Maybe one day, it will be put to good use, but honestly, I'm not optimistic.

After my eyes regained their ability to look beyond a computer screen, I promised to those involved, that I'd make a bloopers reel.  We had a lot of fun in the filming process of this video, as you can clearly see from the video.  Hope you enjoy it!

Link for the Bloopers REEL 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"This is my home"

This week, our class size has grown from 9 to 11 students.  Two may seem like a small number, but I can definitely feel a difference.  We're struggling to integrate everyone into the routine.  However before this addition, our newest student was "four year old" Aden.   Aden came to us about three months late.  It was obvious from the start that Aden had NEVER been to preschool.  He was a wild child, often hitting other students, playing during circle time, and never helping to clean up during "clean up time." Aden was by far our most difficult child.  He didn't ever do his work unless one of us sat with him the entire time coaching him step by step, which makes helping the rest of the children do with their work extremely trying.  His focus lasted as long as a gold fish's memory; two seconds.

His adorable face with two deep dimples was quite endearing however.  And although he often hit other classmates, he'd always freely admit to it, and would apologize with such candor and empathy in his eyes, even reaching out to touch the other student. It made my heart melt the first few times I saw it.  Now, I'm just tired of the words, "Aden hit me!"

But today, Aden did something else to tug at those heart strings; he cried when it was time to go home.  His aunt told us that he's been doing it nearly every day.  He insisted that he wanted to stay at preschool.  When teacher Cindy said, "But Aden, it's time to go home now." he exclaimed adamantly in Korean, "This is my home!"

I'd like to take all the credit for this outburst, but I realize that it most likely has more to do with there being other children to play with than with my marvelous teaching ability. But I'd like to think at least, that I create a fun and safe environment for the children to learn and play in.  And that's enough to make my day. That one of my students, despite, how much we scold him, still wants to be at school with us.  These kids just might make leaving Korea more difficult than I bargained for.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Swing birth

The conversation began simple enough, about children's innate ability to swim.  It was swimming day.  All of our children came completely prepared with life vests and tubes for all.  No one would EVER drown on our swim days there are so many floating devices. One of my coworkers said she'd heard that if you threw a new born in a water, that because of so much time spent in liquid in the womb, they naturally know how to swim.  This led the discussion into births in bathtubs and how it was becoming more popular with the home-birth movement.   I'd also recently heard a talk on NPR about home births, and why it's popularity was rising.   "My friend from Holland says that everyone has home-births in her country." added my co-worker. "When we found out she wasn't going to the hospital, we were shocked, but she said, no one goes to the hospital unless there's an emergency."
"Cindy, what happens in Korea?" I asked, "Are home births common?"
She explained that they were not common, but did occur. She'd recently heard of this thing she described as a swing for birthing.
"A swing?" we asked
"Yes, you swing while you give birth." she continued.
A quick google search came up with zilch.  So she typed in Korean, and through the miracle of a google translator we discovered, THE ROMA BIRTH WHEEL.
Yes, this thing is real, and is not a hoax, as far as I can tell.  Has anyone ever heard of this or seen this in use before?  Very interesting....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beautiful Seoul Project

This Seoul video is amazingly done.  It gives one a peek into the beautiful side of this rectangular, and often ugly and uninteresting (in the way of looks) city.  Check it out.
Seoul Time Lapse 2011 from Oh Choong Young on Vimeo.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I've discovered the secret

To cutting onions...

yep, I'm wearing googles, cuz I'm cool like that!

No more tears boys and girls.  No more tears!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Strange markings

It began at the start of summer, when the layers of clothing began to shed. When we moved from five layers to four, to three to two, and now, at the height of summer, the lightest material passable for appropriate for work clothing.  I noticed one of my students had strange markings on her shoulder. I began counting, one dot, two, three. There were 18 dots in total.  Two square boxes of 9 dots a piece. I began to inspect all of my children. Almost everyone of them had it.
"What are these markings?" I asked my Korean co-workers.
It was explained, that these markings were a new form of a vaccination.  Previous to this currently used vaccination, the out-dated one, left a scar on the shoulder.  This newer vaccination was created to avoid that permanent scarring.  It is said, that the markings will fade with years.
Now, I was even more confused.  Where was my scar I wondered? I'd had all my shots as a child, and even more shots before I left for traveling the world. My family were not one of the anti-vaccine families, so why was it that all of my international friends had scars on their arms, and I didn't nor did any of my American friends. But no one could tell me even what vaccine it was, that is until recently. I follow a blog called, Ask a Korean.
Basically, people write him their questions and he answers them.  Very useful site for questions regarding Korean culture.  He explained, that this vaccine is the BCG vaccine, and for some reason Americans do not receive it.
Evidently, we are one out of two countries in the world that do not recommend it for children. (The Netherlands is the other) Tuberculosis (TB)  kills more people in the world than any other infection. Currently, it infects 1.6 billion people, about one-third of the world's population.  But the vaccine, that is used, does not protect against the kind that is the true killer, which is the millary TB. The TB vaccine is good at protecting against the severe form of disease found in young children (called "miliary" TB), but not as good at protecting against the lung infection commonly found in adolescents and adults. Because miliary TB is very uncommon in the United States, we do not use the TB vaccine. (Info found here)

  So, my question has been answered. And now, if you made it to the end of this spiel, you are more educated, that when you clicked open my page.  Aren't you glad you visited today?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I've joined

I've joined a new blog.  This blog is a photo blog called Soaring through the World in Pictures.  So hopefully it wont take up too much of my time. And, if your interested in photography at all, there are still some spots open.   Its a brilliant idea.  Basically, its a collection of folks around the world sharing photography from their end of the world.  Each week there is a new theme, and whomever has something to contribute, contributes.  Clever hey? Take a peek.  Come and visit!

Soar Button

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mongolian spots

Not a pic of Richard
We all have accidents. My preschool children, although mostly potty trained, have accidents more often than I would like.  Once while changing Richard, I noticed strange splotchy blue marks on his behind.  Cindy explained that these spots, which are found on nearly 90-95% of Asian children, are called Mongolian spots, and that they disappear later in life.  She also said that when Asians first started immigrating to America, doctors suspected abuse after seeing these markings, not understanding that the marks were birthmarks, and not bruises.
Now that I know what they are, I've been looking for them and its true, nearly every baby I've seen has these markings. The markings are most common on the behind, but they also occur on the back. Our co-worker's baby, even has one on her shoulder.  Wikipedia explains, "It results from the entrapment of melanocytes in the lower half to two-thirds of the dermis during their migration from the neural crest to the epidermis during embryonic development"  Basically, its just some type of discoloration of the skin that occurs during development in the womb and is corrected as the child develops further.  Living in a foreign country is quiet intriguing. You never know what our going to learn next.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ancedotes of preschool 3

We've been teaching illnesses recently in my afternoon class.  They learned stomach ache, fever, cough, cold, and rash. The picture for the rash, however, was a bit deceiving, and confusing. The picture shows a child with red dots covering her face. I think they were demonstrating chickenpox but what it actually resembles is acne.  We were talking about each of the illness, and as we came upon, "rash" one of the kids observantly said,
"Teacher you have a rash"
Shaking my head, slightly embarrassed, I explained that the red dots on my face were pimples, which are different from a rash.   "Rashes itch, pimples are just red dots that you get when your older."  I didn't even have that many, maybe two or three, but oh, are kids observant.  Almost every time I have a new pimple, one of the children asks me about it.  "Teacher, what's that?" they ask innocently, not knowing that they are rubbing salt into my wounded self-image.

It's summertime.  In Korea, the tale tell signs of summer is the heat, which isn't anywhere near the heat index in Texas, the humidity, which is high, maybe even sometimes higher than San Antonio, and the insects. (I wrote two posts last year about those nefarious bugs, here and here)  These insects, seeking refuge from the great outdoors, or maybe the many cruel Korean middle school children who try take them apart limp by limb, for some reason or another, choose to make their home in our bathroom.  At first, we didn't understand why the kids would wiggling and shaking, doing the pee pee dance, were refusing to go to the bathroom.  Sometimes, they would even have their pants down, as they came back into the classroom, whining. Once, a student in our afternoon class, who is normally quite garrulous, refused to not only answer a question but repeat anything I said.  He then refused to answer, "what's wrong Edward?" We finally got out of him that his stomach hurt.  Later, we found out, that his stomach hurt because he refused to go to the bathroom to poo, as he was afraid of the bugs.

Cindy, my co-teacher, is afraid of all bugs, even moths and butterflies, albeit massive bird sized moths and butterflies, but harmless critters never-the-less.  So that makes me the designated bug catcher. I don't like to kill animals, unless it's likely to harm me.  However, I've had difficulty catching spiders without killing them, as I'm always afraid they might escape and start crawling on me. 
The kids have, out of necessity, have learned the word "bug," a word they use nearly everyday now, when its time to use the restroom.  What I've found, even more cute however is when they tell me,
"Teacher, spiderman, bathroom!"
"Spiderman is in the bathroom?" I ask jokingly. They know who Spiderman is, but haven't learned the word spider on its own.  I'm loving summer, but I'll be glad when I no longer have to fend off the insect invaders so that my kids don't pee in their pants!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Ancedotes from preschool 2

So last Ancedotes from preschool I talked about my little girl Elise, however, the story doesn't end there.  Elise is a four year old (in Korean age) which means she is between two and three; my guess is that she is three years old.  But she is quite mature for her young years, and is by far one of the superior colorers in the class. She is quite adept at staying in the lines, and even color coordinating.  She is reticent, and slow to speak, but lately she has been coming into her English voice with confidence.  After lunch, which is brought to our classroom, I make their toothbrushes.  That is, I put the toothpaste on their toothbrushes to avoid a calamitous sticky disarray that would send me into a cringing, twitching state liable for institutionalism. (I have to say, I'm admittedly, not a neat person, but messy toothpaste is a pet peeve of mine)  And when I first entered preschool, the children raced after lunch to brush their teeth, and found it hilarious to put not only their own toothpaste messily on their toothbrush but to make a hodgepodge of everyone's toothpaste on their own one toothbrush, making what they called rainbow toothpaste.  After a few eye twiches, I put a stop to that quickly.  I digress however...  Where were we?  Awww yes, Elise.  One day, Elise, who hasn't spoken hardly any English outside of circle time suddenly calls out to me,
"Come here!" Two words I haven't heard her speak before. I'm already impressed, but she's just gotten started. She leads me to where I have made up the toothbrushes, and points to one particular toothbrush, Louis's.
"Louis isn't here." she tells me.  I stare at her dumbfounded. Not only had she been observant enough to remember which cup and toothbrush was Louis's, but she had just formed a perfect sentence, with a negative verb and all.  She didn't say, "Louis not here," which would have been impressive on its own, but she used "isn't."  Huge! Colossal! I had to restrain myself from picking her up and twirling her around. My throat constricted, and my heart pounded with pride like a mother just hearing her baby speak its first word.  My children were learning. They were actually not only understanding but on the cusp of beginning to speak English in sentences.

One finale Elise story...(watch her little video here)

As you know, our preschool goes on field trips.  One Friday, we made our way to a beautiful wildflower garden. We picnicked under the shade of  sycamore trees. (I don't even know what sycamore trees are, but it sounded nicer than just saying trees :) )  Lunches consisted of the snacks the children brought, which ranged from chips, packaged goods, candy and fruit, and kimbap which is brought by the school (Korean style sushi roll).  One ingredient in the rolls is a yellow radish.  I don't like radish.  I don't like radish in any form, yellow or no so I meticulously pick it out. On seeing this Elise picked up my radish to hand me, thinking that it has fallen out.  I tell her "Thank you," but explain to her that I'd taken it out because I didn't like radish. Minutes later, Elise handed me a kimbap, an action that's sweet in itself.  However, that she handed me food without my asking is thoughtful in itself, but what really got to me, was that she'd been considerate enough to take out the radish. This is a three year old folks.  A three year old who thought beyond her own needs and desires to unselfishly feed her teacher. I nearly cried. Seriously, I held back tears as she handed me that seaweed rice roll missing the disgusting radish.  Elise has taken my heart and run away with it, and its all I can do to keep up with her.  I only hope that she remains small enough for me to pack in my suitcase when I come home.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

An inside look at North Korea

I've been looking at reddit recently, a news site I don't fully understand yet, and came across this article.  It's a montage of photographs taken within North Korea.  There are some 37 pictures, and although I often include many photos, sometimes even too many in my posts, even 37 is stretching my limits.  But I found the pictures intriguing.  North Korea are our hostile, and unpredictable neighbors to the North, and yet we know so little about them.  A country that prohibits almost all foreigners, any photo, even non-revealing photos, allow us a little glimpse into the secretive land of the intensely controlled country.  Below are a few of the pictures from the article. To view all of the photos, go directly to the article, which is linked above.

A multi-lane highway with virtually no cars

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

And with the flooding comes...

crayfish???  During the cleanup, which was done primarily while the rain came crashing down around us, we discovered crayfish! I didn't know what they were exactly when I first saw them. I've only ever seen crayfish cooked, and much larger.
Upon seeing them, Kyle said, "Mmmmm, dinner!"
Of course Kyle recognized them right away.  He may not remember my name when we're 80 years old and living in a nursing home, but he'll be able to tell you the diet of each different species of lizards.
Are crayfish common in Yongmun? You may be asking.

I still haven't gotten a clear answer on this.  I have no idea where these guys came from.  We live near a river, but not on a river.  I'd never heard of freshwater crayfish, but that must be what they were, because there are certainly no oceans near us.

Because Kyle loves being manly, he begged that I switch with him for the day, and let him clean outside in the rain, while I take over his classes.  Preschool students were called and told not to come in; being so little, the currents running through our campus could have quite easily washed them away.  I obliged my puppy eyed husband although playing in the rain had in truth, sounded fun to me, I just can't say "no" to those eyes. And instead taught his classes.

The flooding actually was worse than I'd expected, more than 17 inches of rain within two days.  Landslides killed several University students, and Seoul was an absolute mess for a few days. Life went back to normal the following day for us, however, more rain, more humidity, but less torrential.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Revisiting 2010

A while ago, I watched a video our friends had made of their previous year.  At the end of 2010, I thought, I could do that!  As I started to make the video, however, I came across an issue.  Something happened in the formatting of some of our video footage.  I couldn't figure out how to convert the strange format.  Kyle said he thought he could fix it, but months later, it was still not accessible.  I'd started making the project in 2010, but had decided to wait until the video footage was fixed.  It's July of 2011, and I've decided, I've waited long enough.  Most likely the footage wont be recovered until we are back in the states, and seeing as that will be quite a while, I decided to finish the project without the rest of the footage. 

If you interested in whats going on in the video, I've provided a rudimentary list of events along with a few links to blog posts.

Click to watch in youtube

Ansan drama, Samgipsal dinner (BBQ pork), golden beauty- our first, very decorative, phone, ski trip- click here
Monk for a day
Teaching at an orphanage- (the middle two posts)
Deserted island trip
World cup
Jellamnom-do- in the south
The Russian students
and part.2
Free trip
egg drop
Our schools version of immigration
Shopping in Seoul
Boracay- Vacation to the Philippines,
Hiking in Yongmun
One year birthday party
Korean food
Preschool- there are LOTS of preschool posts, here's one
Building an igloo
Vacation to Hawaii
Home for Christmas

Wow, that took way longer than I expected to link all those posts... I hope you look at them...

Note: The first two songs are Korean songs, and the last one is composed and played by our friend Michael Fontenot.