Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Schools (not) out for summer.

People around here are officially calling it summer. Few clouds hang in the sky and the temperatures are high enough to break a sweat. School is out for summer in the states, but here we have until July 20th until freedom rings. As much as I'd love for a break, a lot of great things have been happening for myself and my students.

I had an open class, which literally means opening your class to parents, local teachers, or the vice
principle/principle.All teachers in Korea are responsible for them and I think it's a really positive thing. It holds
teachers accountable for what is happening in their classroom. It could be a great thing for the U.S., eliminating
the tendency to judge teachers based on student test scores on standardized tests. Also, helping deal
with teachers that, plain and simple, just aren't teaching. 4th grade.

One of my favorite things when reading English journals is discovering a personal letter. 5th grade.

I've been tutoring a 6th grader one-on-one lately and, in just 2 months, she's gone from being too shy to say a
single word to constantly pointing around the room  saying the English word for anything and everything. She's
100% come out of her shell. She sketched my picture.

There exists a bird crazy enough to have hatched 2 babies outside our 6th grade window. Poor little ones are terrified
of my students, but they are being pretty respectful.

Restaurant Skits, 6th Grade, Anyang-si, South Korea from Lana Wright on Vimeo.

I'm really connecting with my 6th graders lately. It hasn't always come easy. They have so much going on in their lives; it's not always easy to care about what is happening in English class. But I do think we are all getting the hang of it and they absolutely loved this restaurant skit.

And just an fyi- If you're a U.S. teacher and your confidentiality alarm is going off after reading this post, the video and photos with children are completely acceptable here in Korea. No biggie :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Relaxing weekend; Great things.

I finally took a weekend to simply relax. I love these weekends because I still encounter some pretty great things without even trying. This one was no different.

Discovered my neighborhood friend, Chocolate, had her babies. SEVEN!
Discovered some river music on a ride along the Hakuicheon.
The colorful nightime fountains of Anyang are back up and running.
A student of mine told me about 7 cucumbers for 2,000W (~$2.00) @ E-Mart
So I made 쌈 장 (Ssamjang), which seems to go well with all vegetables.
Ssamjang Recipe Here

And Central Park is pretty happening these days.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Herons of the Hakui River

I'm pretty sure I saw my stolen bike ride past me last week.  They went so quickly, though, I couldn't get quite a good enough look to know for certain. It was a little disheartening, but it pushed me into upping the energy being put into my new bike search.

And yesterday, I finally found and purchased one. Immediatly after buying it, I took to down to the Hakui River for a test spin. It was early evening and the cool air along with the river sounds reminded me of how much I love/missed biking in this city. I spotting a great blue heron in the water and so I found a place to sit and observe. And then, right before my eyes, I witnessed my first bird-fish hunt. That heron dove its beak into the water and in one shot, came back up with dinner. This has led to my decision to name my new bike "Great Blue." It only seems fitting as my last bike was "Big Red" and the one before that was "Purple People Eater."

Fish in Mouth

Tonight I took it out for another spin and saw two more herons; one gray and one white! Looks like with the weather warming up, I'll be seeing many of them around.

Bee Watching

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Apparently I accidentally published this post, which I had meant to remain in edit mode until I decided if I felt comfortable with it being out there in cyberspace for all to read. Since it already went out and I'm feeling pretty damn happy (plus removed from the incident) at the moment, I think I'll let it stay out.

Written 5/31/11

So today I cried at school for the first time. I walked in to get ready for my third grade lesson first thing in the morning and my co-teacher said some things (nothing bad, all very kind) that struck a nerve and I couldn’t hold back the tears. If you know me, you know I don't cry very easily and if I do, I at least do it alone.

So here I am, 2 minutes until class starts with students shuffling in and looking for me to shout their usual: “Oh, hellooo teacha!” or “Hii-eee Rana!!!” They are freaking adorable, but nothing could help in me gaining my composure in just two minutes. My co-teacher, who I appreciate for always being very aware of others, both teachers and students, saw me and took lead while I escaped for a few minutes.

When I returned, my students were dolls. I’m not sure if they saw me cry, but if they did, they didn’t mention it. Except a young boy, who with the best of intentions shared this when discussing likes and dislikes: “I don’t like crying.” It totally surprised me because others were keeping it safe with foods and animals.

Emotionally, it’s been a tough past couple of weeks. Nothing bad has happened, but things that should not cause me such frustration, are. Everything trails back to the fact that I am very, very homesick. I tend to blog only about the positive, but there are definitely difficult times when being an expat in another country. No matter how comfortable I become here, it cannot compare to the comfort I feel when near my friends, family, and…I almost want to cringe for saying this…culture of, yes, The U.S. Or maybe I should be more specific…Oregon. Portland-ish, Oregon.

I’ll be home late July and I can’t wait to hear English all around me, go to the library, drink amazing beer/coffee/margaritas, play with my friends and family, hike some luscious green forests, go to the beach, and even do absolutely nothing, but in the safety of my mom’s apartment with my cats by my side. This serves as a very condensed and vague list of the things I want to do when I get home because, ever since I booked my flight, “to dos” are constantly popping into my head at an anxiety-inducing pace. I’ll sometimes be in the middle of a lesson either explaining something or writing it on the whiteboard, and something from the U.S. will take over my brain. It’s totally distracting!

And what I am most excited about for my trip back home is just being a "normal" human being; not being constantly put under a looking glass. I want to go places and not have my every move being watched. I want to just relax knowing people aren't watching to see whether I can use chopsticks, if I like a food, how I will react to anything and everything. I want to have conversations where never once is my appearance of topic...my having blond hair, my looking tired, my eyes being green, there being pimples on my face. Now I know these come from innocent intentions, but they are so very, very difficult to grow accustom to.

Anyway, I don’t mean for it to sound like I am unhappy, but perhaps more accurate would be to say that I am having unhappy moments resulting home homesickness. Still, I am keeping busy and enjoying the fabulous spring that Korea has to offer.


(During a later class)

Me: What do you like?

Student:I like skeleton soldier.

Me: What’s a skeleton solder?

Student: (Stands up) RWWAAAAARRRR!!!

Me: Oh, yes, THOSE!

(During planning period inside my office)

Student: Lana likes me and I like her (Shouting in Korean from the hallway).

Roses are in bloom all throughout Anyang.