Thursday, April 14, 2011

A whirlwind of a first week!

The hardest part is over!!! The day we flew out was probably the longest 2 days in my entire life!!! Since we had to be in the airport at 4 am, Carl had the greaaaaaaaaaaatttt idea of staying up the entire night. I probably napped for about 45 minutes, but my nerves were high and I was excited. By the time we arrived in Seattle and about to board our long flight to Seoul we were both cranky, smelly, and uncomfortable from the tiny seats on our coach connecting flights. I literally had a woman sitting on me on the flight from Chicago to Seattle while she was munching on jelly beans, ding-dongs, and drinking a diet coke. Unfortunately, the best flight and accomodations happened to be Asiana where both of us slipped an Ambien and passed out. By the time we arrived in Gwangju (around 12:30 am Friday morning) we felt digusting, sweaty, greasy, tired, and hungry. But we made it!!!! It took me about 3 nights of sleeping pills to finally adjust to the time change and the jet lag.

 In the first 24 hrs we've discovered a 7-11 (on every corner), had
copious amount of iced coffee mixtures where it's never going to taste
like you think it should, been to a Lotte Mart (upscale classy Walmart), gone into a restaurant and ordered something/anything (which we leanred wasn't what we wanted), cooked our on barbecue and wrapped it in lettuce, learned that while I LOVE spicy I've NEVER experienced something THIS SPICY, watched Korean TV and kind of enjoyed it, and searched endlessly for power adapters for no luck of landing one. Our little Korean phrasebook has helped some, but sometimes you just gotta nod your head and settle with you're-goona-get-what-you-get. There is
a huge and gorgeous lake several blocks from us where the Koreans all

So yesterday was our first full day of teaching. We had 6 adult ladies in the morning who were there to "test" out our program to see if it would be something they would want to take their kids to as well as just to learn. We started out by playing charades with them to lighten up the mood, and then took them to Immigration where we give them passports and ask them questions to try and get a baseline of their english abilities. Some were very good, and some struggled, but they were very interested in talking to us. One lady held up the whole group while they were trying to leave because she kept talking to me and the other girl. We took them to the Furniture shop where we paint and build mini tables, the Bank to fill out a check and explain money, and then to aerobics where we did the "Hokey Pokey". I had that damn song stuck in my head all night! In the afternoon we had a group of 25 elementary kids who come to the camp every other week. Apparently, these are the "worst" kids. "Worst" by Korean standards is well behaved for American students. I manned the Hair shop where you paint faces and paint nails. Yes, even the boys like to "manicure". But what was so rough was the first class (for both us and the boys) was like pulling teeth. We would ask them questions and they would just stare at us. Sometimes I'd ask them what their name was and they would shake their head and get all embarassed. One kid kept telling me his name was "OK!" or make up names. None of the kids wanted paint, and none of the kids wanted nail polish, so we kept saying words for them to repeat and saying "Tada hayeseo" or "Do as I do." We then switched groups and took the kids into the supermarket. This is where the kids got rowdy. They kept taking the money we were showing them and picking up the fruit and running around. Typical kids, right? And this was supposed to be the worst!?!?! It was manageable. Finally, the boys in the class got so unfocused that we just took them outside to play. After dinner, I was playing with them by pretending to chase them and tickle them. All, but one, LOVED it and liked running away from me and playing with me. This one girl would come charging at me screaming. I couldn't figure out if she was upset or playing, so when she screamed at me, I screamed back. She kept holding my hands and pushing me, so I thought she was playing. Apparently, as I learned later, she was not. But that usually she would have been kicking and crying, so I did something right. About 10 minutes of giving all the kids High Fives and her refusing, she ran up to me and demanded a High Five. As they were leaving and in the car she STILL kept giving me High Fives. Needless to say, yesterday was a looonngg day and it didn't take long for me to empty that bottle of Soju I bought the day before knowing I'd need it ;-)

As a reward for surviving our health checks (you know, peeing in a cup in a squat toilet, having blood taken, getting laughed at by Korean nurses by putting the gown on backwards, and having my boobs measured) our managed took us to a park where all of the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and gorgeous! 

We get stared at, and many random kids say "HELLO!!!" to us as we walk past them on the streets. We have no idea what in the world we are doing half the time, but that's the fun in it!!! 

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