Christmas Korean Style

The title is a bit deceiving seeing as how it isn't really Korean style. From what I gather, Christmas is a little different to each and every person in Korea. Younger couples use it as a Valentine's Day of sorts. Families will often by Christmas cakes to celebrate. And a rare few will get gifts from their parents. Of course, there are probably millions who do not even celebrate the holiday. While some of my students were going to spend the whole day at church. Christians in Korea have seemed to accepted the importance of Christmas in their faith without bringing the materialistic expectations we have in the West into the holiday. I guess you could say, for many, it's what Christmas was meant to be - celebrating the birth of Jesus. For me, it's just another holiday. Unfortunately, it fell on a Sunday so we didn't get any time off of work. Again, just illustrates the importance of X-mas in Korea.

With that being said, we had a delicious lunch with lots of food: ham, garlic mashed potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes, tuna casserole, home-made mac 'n' cheese, corn, rolls, and black bean burgers for the vegetarians in the group. We also had a few cocktails as well as ice cream and cheese cake (thank you Chelsea) for dessert! Afterwards, we continued on tradition of ice skating in Seoul for the second year in a row. It was a wonderful Christmas year and I'm thankful I had such wonderful people to spend Christmas with.

(Our Christmas spread on the dining table. The table itself was about 6 inches off the ground so we all ate on the floor.)

(Black bean burgers for the vegetarians)

(Here we have the meat and potatoes, as well as the corn and tuna noodle casserole)

(Drew and Harry hanging on the couch afterwards)

(This shot idealizes everything Chelsea is, at least in my opinion. Katrina is rocking a new Christmas shirt she got this year.)

(It was a great time and I had a smile on my face most of the day!)

(Katrina and I at the subway station before going ice skating - cute picture)

(Nice artistic work by Spenser)

(This was the ice skating group - Spenser, Harry, Katrina, myself, Lina, and Drew)

(Whoooooo - great time in my rental skates, pulling Katrina around. Actually, she does a pretty good job skating and I don't even have to pull her that much! Great times!!!)

(Katrina enjoying her skate)

(Katrina with the tree in the background)

(This was our Christmas ice skating experience. In the heart of Seoul, skating on a little sheet of ice. It was a fantastic day!)

(This is me standing with the rink in the right of the picture with the giant tree behind me)

(O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree - my bamboo tree)

(Katrina's tree which was hand made by her mother and shipped over last year)

(How could a Christmas be complete without stockings? Compliments of Katrina's mom.)

(I would say we were both good this year. It was nice to be able to have some gifts this year and be able to celebrate Christmas. I know we both felt love, from friends, family, and each other.

Office Secret Santa

As usual, we did another office Secret Santa this year. It's a quick exchange of gifts about 30 minutes before classes start and unfortunately, we do it with the whole office, so you never know who you are going to get. I ended up with someone I have never spoken to before. Yes, our office, is that big there are still quite a few people I have yet to speak to. It's broken up into Champ (Elementary School), Ivy (Middle School), S-Class (final year Middle School students), as well as high school students. I ended up with some moisturizing body wash and lotion - perhaps someone in the office is trying to send me a message. Unfortunately, Katrina got a mug of sorts, Pororo chopsticks for kids which her fingers don't even fit in, and a door sign in Korean. Otherwise, it was a good time.

(Presents beneath the tree)

(Not all presents were below the tree. Ricky found his hanging on the tree, which told him to go to the fridge - kind of like a scavenger hunt. I believe he got a cake.)

(As the gifts are being passed out)

(Harry Harry Long opening up his box of goodies. Harry is still confused as to who had him but I know. Maybe one day Harry will find out...)

(Some of the Middle School teachers as they got their gifts)

(Katrina's excited look before she actually opened her box. I wish I would have taken one afterwards as well.)

(Myself by the tree with my body wash and lotion)


End of the Fall Semester 2011 - Tu/Th Classes

The same as with the Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes. Here are a few photos from the end of the semester. I will say, my first class on Tuesdays and Thursdays was perhaps one of my favorite classes of all times. They were talkative but respectful, they knew when to work and when to have a good time. It was a great class and I'm going to miss a lot of the students.

In other news, busy time of the year. All my Christmas gifts are wrapped and ready to go. I got a Christmas package from my mom - thanks Mom. And all of the gifts I ordered online arrived in time for Christmas. The head middle school teacher will be gone next week so I'll have a sweet schedule after Christmas - staying until 10 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week. We also have our first of the bi-semester video observations, Quiz Whizz, and a staff meeting on Thursday. So, busy week. After that, intensives start and it's 11:30 to 8:30 - an extra hour of work be we get off an hour earlier. Hope everyone is doing well. Wishing you guys and gals a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

(In the front we have Rachel, Christina, and Stella. Second row includes Anny, Julia, and Vicky. And in the back, myself, Ella, Ann, Alice, and Bill. Kind of felt bad for Bill, he was the only boy in the class.)

(The ladies in the front doing a bit of posing)

(As I said, this was probably one of my favorite classes of all time. I am going to miss these little kiddos. Luckily, only two moved up to the middle school so I may teach them again.)

(This was my second class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They were also great but had a little more energy as a class and a few 'talkative' students. Overall, I really enjoyed teaching them as well.)

(Here is Emily. She can play a traditional Korean instrument called the gayageum.)

(Sally and Angela in the back)

(Sandy and Bang Bang Jack in the front followed by Alexander and Emily with Sally and Angela in the back. Bang Bang Jack is a bit of a handful at times.)

(On the other side of the class we have Matthew, Sally, Steve, who usually sits next to his brother Glen, and Lina, who had a boyfriend, which is big news in Korea, in the back.)

(The students are getting ready before class starts)

(The following are students who I've taught at some point and who all moved up to Ivy. In this first picture we have Kelly and Monica. I had Kelly, the one in purple for about a year helping her prepare to enter Cheongshim.)

(Here we have CBK or Crying Baby Kevin. He always used to whine in class so I just nicknamed him CBK. It's stuck, even after 9 months.)

(The Little Avalon group. They are fun to teach but also a handful.)

(Perhaps one of my favorite all time students - GI Jane. Her level wasn't GI but she just reminded me a bit of Demi Moore in the movie GI Jane. She was smart, polite, and raised her hand to answer every single question. Sadly, she moved up to Ivy.)


End of the Fall 2011 Semester - Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes

The last day of this fall semester was a little different. For a lot of the students, many of whom I've taught for over a year now, it was their time to take the leap up to Ivy (aka Middle School). Many of the students I've built relationships with and connected with I will no longer teach, which, at least for me, is a bit sad. I miss a lot of the students, remember a few, and hopefully keep in touch with some. It was a great time and I'm very thankful to have been able to teach this group of students. Here are photos of the final Friday with many of these students:

(This is my JA class with Brian, Mikey, Jack Attack in the Back, Ian, Julia, Tiffany, Irene, See Yu, Emily, Cathy, Jenny, and Jane. Colleen was missing today. This is one of my favorite photos and they were a great class!)

(Irene hiding in the front with Emily behind her and Tiffany working hard. See Yu and Jane are in the back.)

(Tiffany had her head down the entire class. I eventually got her to take one good photo.)

(Brian with the peace sign)

(See Yu also supporting the peace sign with Jane resting on her shoulder. Ian resting next to Jack Attack in the Back. Remember, many of these students go to school, come to Avalon for two hours, and then go off to Math or Science Academy afterwards. They do this Monday Wednesday Friday and will attend another academy or two on Tuesday, Thursday, and sometimes Saturday. No wonder Koreans far surpass Americans in education...)

(This was my GA class - second highest level. They were a wonderful class and I really got to know the students this semester. From left to right we have Heidi, Eunsuh, Michelle, Cindy, Kevin, Nick, Erik, Charlie, Harry, Isavel, Jenny, and Amy. All except three of these students moved on to Ivy. So, I was a bit sad to see this class go.)

(This is me with the girls. Amy was not one for pictures and she never seemed to joke around in class, but she wrote me a very sweet letter at the end of the year.)

(Erik and Charlie, hamming it up. I taught Charlie in our Cheongshim preparation class so I've had him for over a year. As you can tell, the boys definitely had a lot of energy in the class.)

(Although Cindy was quiet in class, she was very intelligent and one of my favorite students. I continue to email her and hope to do so in the future.)

(Amy and Jenny - Amy not wanting her photo taken)

(Charlie supporting the peace sign and Erik hamming it up again)

(Isavel was one of the few students to say hello every day and for the most part, have a smile on her face. As you can guess, some students really do not want to attend all these academies but are 'forced' to do so by their parents who are hoping to give them any advantage in life.)

(Taking attendance)

(There are anywhere from 2 to 14 students in each of my classes. This class had 13 and the girls and boys, as you can tell, do not like sitting together.)

(This is the best of the best - AO. We have Sue, Jennifer, myself, Peter, Sebastian, and Grant. Missing from the photo are Judy and Jonathan.)

(This is with Spenser and Chelice, my Korean co-teacher for a few of my classes. She usually teaches the upper levels and also dedicates a lot of time preparing the students for Cheongshim. She's a wonderful co-teacher and expects a lot from her students - my kind of teacher.)

(Jennifer and Sue doing some work)

(The guys hanging out in class)

(Sebastian is the one student this year who made it into Cheongshim. This is one of his photos up at Avalon. He also has his photo on the buses. It's a big deal, great for the school, and most importantly, fantastic for Sebastian, who deserved it.)