Greetings everyone, it’s been a while since you last heard from us, and even longer since you heard from me. We’ve been pretty busy getting things in order around here, on the personal side of things, we have both been inexplicably busy lately. We’re thinking about the future, and trying to get things in order to apply for our next job. Those of you who follow me on twitter probably know I was at home for about two weeks over the Thanksgiving holiday. My grandma was undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer and my return home was an emergency trip to be with her and my family while she prepared for and recovered from the Whipple Procedure. Now that it’s Christmas, Danielle is at home with her family, and my brother Tony arrived earlier this week to visit during my winter break.
In addition to working on some backend upgrades on this site, we’ve been collaborating with Anna and Andre (Seoulful Adventures) on the first of a series of journalism projects. We are currently putting together a story about the large Filipino community in and around Seoul and Incheon, centered around the weekly Filipino Market in Hyewha. Last weekend the four of us went out to the market and put in about five hours of interviewing and learning about the market, and the people who work and visit it. The project is the first of many to be produced under the umbrella of a new organization called International Underground. We hope to have the Filipino Market story up, and launch the full site soon. We’ll have more details here for sure. In the mean time, you can subscribe to the email list or the site’s RSS feed in the reader of your choice.
Creating International Underground does not mean that Schoolhouse: ROK will disappear. On the contrary, it means we will be able to focus on bringing you news and analysis from this site, but also do more broadly targeted, and more in-depth journalism, reporting unique stories, from among a community of journalists located in the Seoul area, and eventually around the world.
Thank you for reading, happy holidays, and stay tuned.
All the students at school would like to wish you a Very Merry…Thanksgiving! I admit I’m a bit late with this sentiment, as that day of family feasting is likely fading in some people’s memories as Christmas approaches, but the kids are as cute as they were a month ago, so don’t be deterred.
Of course they needed a little prompting to shout, “Happy Thanksgiving,” for the waiting camera, but you may be surprised by just how much they understand about the holiday and its history. The video may not show it, but my first grade students can even rattle off the name William Bradford and spout off a fact or two on the Wampanoag Indian tribe. I suspect that is more than I could say at their age.
Do you ever wake up in the morning, pour some milk into a bowl of cereal, and think, “Hmm, I wonder what on Earth children in South Korea eat for breakfast?” Find the responses to this query and plenty of other questions about the daily life of a student in South Korea in this video created by fellow teacher Seth Mattern.
Seth is a certified educator in the United States, and after the logistics of international pen-pal projects and video exchanges proved too messy, he created this website with another teacher in Colorado as a convenient forum for cultural exchange between students the world over.
In addition to this, which I imagine is only the first of many videos to be posted in the future, poke around the website to read some essays by both Korean and American students, and responding comments. If you’re an educator anywhere in the world, and are interested in participating in the site, just send an e-mail and I would be thrilled to put you in touch with the appropriate people. Even if you’re not an educator, I know the kids would love to read any comments and answer any questions you may have.
These students are in fourth and fifth grade and recorded this around 8:00 at night, since they stay at our school until 9. You’ll find that later nights and longer hours spent in schools of all varieties are not the only differences between Korean and North American students. And as for breakfast in Korea, I’ll let the kids speak for themselves, but I suspect many will be surprised by their answers. Enjoy!
If you thought that after two blog posts and a stream of photos, there was nothing more to be said, read, or heard from our encounters at the Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, think again. Our friends Anna and Andre, both fellow foodies, travelers, and teachers over at Seoulful Adventures recently published a video from our prawn lunch. While the Pusan International Film Festival brought us to Busan, the Jagalchi Fish Market captured our attention and the held it. The Jagalchi Fish Market sprawls beside the water with an array of marine creatures so broad, even the pickiest sea food eater’s appetite should be appeased.
Our lunch in a humble port side restaurant within ear’s reach of fishmongers gave new meaning to the word fresh. We’ve grown accustomed to raw protein cooked over a stove at the table, but meat does not usually reach us in any condition to move around in the pan. Undoubtedly alive upon delivery, the shrimp we ordered for lunch retained their capacity to move, and move they did. I could list every synonym for jump, wriggle, scurry, writhe, and twitch in the thesaurus, but this is a moment best watched. Thanks to Anna and Andre for the video (video by Anna Waigand, videography by Andre Francisco). To check out their take on the meal, and a slew of other interesting stories.
As Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Seoul approaches, and bilateral talks between North Korea and the U.S. are in the works, it would seem the winds are shifting towards increased diplomacy. An incident today between North and South Korean naval bodies suggests otherwise, as the two countries exchanged gunfire for the first time in seven years.
“North and South Korean naval vessels exchanged fire in disputed waters off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, leaving one North Korean vessel engulfed in flames, South Korean officials said.”
Considering the magnitude a few shots could have between these two countries, especially when North Korean vessels cross borders they contest, but the majority of the international community respects, the day unfolded normally. The attack occurred before school began, and not one student or co-worker brought it up. Civil defense sirens did not ring in the streets, pausing cars at the curb (something that actually has happened in the time I’ve been here as a drill) as aircraft fly overhead. As volatile as our newly assumed neighbors to the north are, the South’s steadiness is comforting. When the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issues the statement that, “We are fully prepared for further provocations from the North Korean military,” there’s little doubt that South Korea does not train every able male countrywide solely in the name of male bonding. I suspect the calm of the streets will continue. We shall see just how “conciliatory” North Korea is feeling.
We were told this week by our Academic Coordinator that in the event we do close, all teachers are expected to come in on Saturdays and Sundays to make up for lost time. Rumors about a government edict closing all the schools abound but we have not heard anything official from the Government.
According to the Korea Times, the government raised its alert status this week, and is stepping up flu prevention strategies:
The country had maintained its “orange” alert status since July 21 but decided to raise it as an average of 8,857 people caught the new flu per day last week, up from 4,420 tallied for the week before. A total of 42 people have died in South Korea from the flu since mid-August.
Government efforts will be focused on coping with serious flu cases and vaccinating about 35 percent of the population as soon as possible to safeguard public health, the ministry said.
I’m just glad I’m part of the public option health plan.