Sunday September 25
Korean lessons at the Gimhae Foreigners Center were held on Sunday afternoon. It was my friend Liz, myself, and 3 Vietnamese students. The lesson was conducted entirely in Korean. It was just basic sounds and vowels.
This got me thinking; they don’t understand English and I don’t understand their native tongue, but we are learning a unifying language that could potentially open up doors for a mutual communication ground. Amazing. There was lots of laughter during this lesson.
I should probably share that this lesson was the third attempt throughout the day to go to the correct level of Korean lesson. This morning I went to church in Changwon with my friend Nadia, then back to Gimhae to meet the 2 o’clock time (Attempt #1)…that was for advance students, so we wandered around for awhile. Breakdown #1 of the week when I was standing in line at McDonald’s trying to order ice-cream and I couldn’t read and the lady taking my order didn’t understand. I feel so inadequate not being able to communicate…Mission: Learn to Read. So I went to a stationary store and I bought posters and a workbook. Attempt #2 at Korean Lesson…Liz and I ended up sitting in the class and I had no idea what the lady was writing on the board then she called on me to say something that she had wrote…breakdown tears come again. Attempt #3- finally Liz and I get to the right class as previously mentioned with the basics. I guess it’s a teaching lesson to me when I use bigger words or complex sentences that my students don’t understand. I need to be conscience of what I’m saying and if they look confused, then to recognize this and re-word what I am trying to explain.
It just struck me that not everyone is learning English in hopes to get into a top university or study in an English speaking country, English is not the only language to be learned for survival either. The students in other lessons are from India, the Middle East, Philippines, (etc) to survive because this country provides better opportunities for them in regards to living conditions and financial reasons. Many come to work for a few months at a time, take a break to visit family, and then return. You can see it in their eyes when asked if they like Korea, they wished they could be back in their homeland with their family.
By the time we got back to Jangyu it was almost 7 pm- long day, but we went for bulgolgi- beef that we cook yourself on a small open flame in a built in pit on the table- with mixtures of onions and sauces…and kimchi’d sprouts- (ok these were good!), then waffles- (it’s a Korean thing to eat waffles for dessert)- while studying from our new Korean workbooks- here’s one word I learned: 나비this is pronounced- n-ah-b/p (soft b almost a p sound) -ee; it means butterfly.
Monday September 26
This morning I was able to talk to my grandparents; they want to visit me! I feel blessed to have them such a part of my life…they also came to see me when I studied abroad in Kenya. It’s special that they are interested in my crazy destinations of choice… 🙂 Breakdown #2 of the week.
My co-teacher Ashley lives in Jangyu and offered for me to visit her house where her, her husband, and 5 year-old son live. When Koreans invite you to their home it’s a big deal- it means they respect and enjoy your company. (aww) …I was telling this to a friend who has been here a while and she was excited for me when I told her about my offer.
Thank goodness for angel hair pasta, red wine, and internet! I really need to stop crying.
Tuesday September 27
Today was the day I was supposed to get my health check back. Wrong. Apparently the hospital forgot to inform me that they stopped authorizing the foreigner’s health exam for immigration purposes- in May. They apologized and returned my fee and offered to take me to the Gimhae hospital, but there wasn’t enough time. The hospital called my director, then put me on the line to speak with him and I couldn’t understand what he was saying and so I put my friend on who speaks some Korean and he hung up on her. (Breakdown #3; I have no idea where these tears are coming from…at least I laugh following the tears about how ridicules this all is!?) I emailed my director about the situation; now he is unable to meet me in Changwon on Thursday to take me to the hospital, so my alien card process is still stalled. My director told my co-teachers that he wouldn’t take me to the hospital and I would have to just go there by bus. (Word of mouth from past teachers who knew someone who worked for my director says he is an $*#- awesome- UGH) Then I was going to try figure it out- (bus signs here are only in Korean- it’s rural), but on my way out, the co-teacher who has her own class asked me how I was and I lost it again…my students were not the nicest today…I mean I shouldn’t let them get to me, but after my day I did… anyways… she told me not to cry and would discuss her and the other teacher taking me to the hospital since the director wouldn’t…she understood my situation and said she had experience similar problems when studying in Japan. She is the sweetest! I do, I love the kids, and I love seeing their faces when they read the right words and can get a 100% on a spelling test, along with a million others antics, and I am truly enjoying being in Jangyu, but the logistics of being in another country and needing to process important documents- is frustrating! (insert my 30 second rant of if you are going to be dealing with foreigners as your profession, maybe you should assist them in getting alien cards so they aren’t illegal in the country…and learn a bit of English to communicate with them…) I also found out that my director goes to my church and one of the ladies that attends the English service knows him and is helping me deal with him as well. Praise the Lord.
On the bright side, I skyped with my baby sister and saw her lovely face this morning, then I got my mom’s card, and at school I found out that in addition to having next Monday off in observance for Korean is Established as a Country day, I also have Tuesday off in observance for my School’s Anniversary of being Established day. (yay! and both are paid!)
And then truth smacks me in the face…my wilderness, my South Korea, my lostness in direction, questioning why and spilling out frustrations and hurtfulness…in tonight’s exasperation for wanting answers I turn to the Truth. This is what my devotions said… “It’s easy to thank God when he does what we want. But God doesn’t always do what we want…Read the story of Job. He asked questions and in return received oceans of more questions. The point is…God owes no one anything. No reasons. No explanations. Nothing. If He gave them, we couldn’t understand them. God is God. He knows what he is doing. When you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart.” Therefore, all of the above that I have wrote are indirect questions without answers and I just need to trust trust trust and be calm. It’s my lesson of hope and belief and patience being tried and tested once more. I pray that after I have admitted these faults and helpless feelings I will begin to see yet another chapter of my life he has laid out…
Wednesday September 28
Much. Better. Day. Today I got to see another lovely friend on skype. I love technology. Seriously. It’s a necessity I have decided, especially after not seeing loved ones for almost a month. Then went to the post office. I think the package cost more than the gift. So really it is the thought that counts. I was almost dreading school today with the disastrous day yesterday I wasn’t sure if I could deal with my kids today. In the end I still love teaching and I love my kids. So. Much. Better. My second floor 5th class kids speak the most English so we have a more interactive and discussion type class. Today we were talking about exercise and I asked one student who said he liked to hike what his favorite place to hike was, and he tells me “Teacher, up the mountain, then down the mountain.” (insert fits of giggles from my co-teacher and I).
My co-teacher is taking me to Gimhae tomorrow to get my health check done and after class she told me that my last class of teaching was much better than yesterday and then gave me a few pointers on how to get them to be quiet. No tears today. She also told me she cried yesterday too because of the students. Now I don’t feel so guilty crying. I also clarified an assignment she had given me and said she didn’t want to think about it until after vacation…what a relief! She didn’t discuss it anymore so I’m not going to stress about it either. 🙂
Tonight: dinner and cookies. (my friend really likes to bake. so we make do with her mini toaster oven.)