12.23.2010

Playwright Debut

My dad, Tom Ratto, taught music in Southern California for over 30 years. This means he put on Christmas plays and performances with and anywhere from 200 to 400 kids every year in December. This also means that I attended a K-8 Christmas performances every year of my life until I was 18 or so.

And they were spectacular.

He has since retired from teaching but I joked a while ago about how all of my hours as a rug-rat tailing him into classes, setting up before shows and prepping props for performances thoroughly trained me for my job out here in Korea. But last Friday that joke became a blaring reality.

I too have joined the family business. I put on two Christmas plays with 4 and 5-year-old Korean kids, song and dance movements 'n all.

How the Grinch Stole KDLP by Mark Ratto from Elysabeth on Vimeo.

{This is a video of my 5-year-old's. I actually wrote this play for them and it included "All of My Favorite Things" and "So Long Farewell" from the Sound of Music as well as "Santa Clause is coming to town." The camera ran out of memory card space so it is cut short, but I am very proud of these little tiny people. I mean, come on, they are performing in English!...Oh yeah, and I did not pick out the costumes. I repeat, I did not pick out the costumes.}

In many ways I am my dad. At everyone of those old Christmas plays or other events, parents and friends would often say we look alike. I always shrugged it off like most kids.

Now, on almost a daily basis, Tom Ratto bursts out of me. The the things I say, how I teach, my connection with the kids; everything sounds just like him back in the day. And now look at me, directing school plays. I know we look alike but this is getting wildly similar.

It makes you really think, "maybe this is exactly where I am supposed to be?"

For right now at least.

Get Lost my friends...

12.13.2010

NPR Bound

My lady, otherwise known as the lovely Elysabeth Hahm, has landed the gig of all gigs.

She does not start work until 5 p.m. and gets out at 8 p.m. everyday. Not only that, she can comfortably survive out here with the amount they are paying her. What does she do? Radio. She does radio and does it big.

It's funny, when you listen to talk radio you always picture some face behind the voice. It may even be a vague image but you always do. Minutes before Liz hit the waves for the first time my curiosity sparked because I wondered what people would think she looked like when they heard her voice. I was sourly surprised...She sounded too good to be true.

She spoke with a subtle smoothness enhanced with sophisticated sag-ways. She sounded like a veteran capable of always putting a fresh perspective on things. But she also sounded, for a lack of better words, super attractive. I immediately thought, "I'm screwed." I had joked the week leading up to her debut that she was the next big thing in Seoul. I did not realize that she would be the next 'hot' chick in Seoul. I got really nervous when this thought surfaced but quickly dismissed that silly notion when the reality of the situation rapidly came into perspective.

In that moment her voice rang though ears and speakers throughout Korea. This was the biggest English speaking radio station in Seoul and her 30-minute segment played at 7:30 p.m., prime-time.

My emotions quickly turned toward genuine pride. Of all the things she has done in her life this is by far the biggest challenge and with the most at stake. If she failed, she would be jobless. If she succeeded, coming to Korea instantaneously became a hugely profitable decision.

So she did what she does best; smiled, giggled and rode the wave through, grounded head at the ready. And she sounded absolutely incredible.


She has just entered her fourth week on the job and has officially staked her place behind a mic. It's quite impressive to say the least. Prior to this she only had experience in print media and had never really done any type of public speaking. You would not know it when she comes on air.

The station (http://www.tbs.seoul.kr/ENG/) enjoys her tremendously and the show is picking up momentum. I must also mention that I have been a guest caller three times since the start of the show and I, eh-hem, attribute most of the shows success directly to my calls.

With that being said, it's good being Liz right now. Did I mention she doesn't have to use an alarm clock!?!?

Get Lost my friends.....

12.09.2010

The Best Concert I Will Ever Go To In My Whole Life For As Long As I Live, Ever.

Last Saturday I went to a concert with Liz, my buddy Dave and whole lot of apprehension. It was free because Liz's work put it on and none of us really thought it was going to be anything more than maybe a banquet style setup with some food and a jazz band or DJ.

Well, it was much more than that my friends. It was a production of excitement blended with moments of fear wrapped in a whirlwind of "what could possibly be next?" questions that fiddled with my emotions so much I ended up enjoying it more than anything else I have done in Korea.

Yeah. I know.

Here goes...


{The First Band was a reggae band. He told us to, "shake ya' booties and feel dah vibreations," in a slightly Jamaican yet almost American slash pirate accent. If you attempt the accent exactly how I described, you most likely nailed it.}



{This is ToucH, a Korean Pop band. A group of seven dudes, 4 of which could pass as very attractive girls, all dressed in tight denim and some array of brown leather coat with fake white fur frills and if you look closely you can see the lead singer in the middle with wings sewed into the side of his pants. I'm not making this up.}
{The calm before the insanely badly choreographed storm.}
{Then boom, wing pants takes flight!...It was really bad. But so bad in fact, I loved every moment of it.}




{Now this was interesting. It was a choir group that consisted of 13 different ambassadors wives. They did a medley of 18 traditional folk songs and arguably the most confusing part of the night happened when the wives from Papa New Guinea and the Phillipines did a traditional dance other wise known as 'The Electric Slide'.}



{This was by far the best 20-minutes of my weekend. A Korean band that covered Queen. The lead singer rocked a mustache, the guitarist wore a wig and aviator sunglasses and they conjured the essence of Queen magically. No joke, this Korean dude hit every single note and sounded exactly like Freddy Mercury. At the end of the first song I gave a standing ovation with a wildly too loud yelp in appreciation but when I looked back at the hundreds of Koreans giving me that, "come on, don't be so American dude," look, I quickly sat back down...These guys have been a band for 13 years. Which means this guy has rocked that stache for 13 years which, looking back, is what most likely prompted my adoration for them.}


There was about 10 acts all together that ranged from the K Pop scene to embarrassing Korean rappers to young girls playing traditional instruments to a very talented American rapper and finally finishing with a fantastic Jazz quartet that ended up accompanying some K Pop star chicks.

We walked out of that concert with 3 hours worth of conversation and we used every last minute of it.

Get Lost my friends....

The pictures were provided by the beautiful Elysabeth Hahm.



12.02.2010

Awesome Crying

Last week the strings that pull my conscience one way or the other were vigorously yanked...To the right.

Every month I administer a Spelling Bee to my two groups of smarter kids. One group are 5-year-old's and the other group are 4-year-old's. This month's Spelling Bee unfolded like this.

The 5-year-old's went as usual. One of the smarter kids won, the appropriate high-fives were administered. It was pretty standard. I think it's cruel to put children this old into any type of educational competition, but I walked out with a smile

The 4-year-old class on the other hand exceeded all precedents for a Spelling Bee with tiny people.

Instead of explaining how everything unfolded I will skip to the final round where four kids stood at the front of the class. Three of the students had already won the Bee more than two times. The other student, named Oliva, had not ever won. As a matter of fact, she had never made it to the final round. In the final round I present four words to each student and the student with the most spelled c0rrectly, wins. This Spelling Bee is designed so I can influence the winner. So I did.

(Olivia had been falling behind lately with her English and I have recently made it my goal to help improve her reading. I like Olivia. She told the other students she likes Markuh Teacha' very early on. So naturally, she has been a long time favorite of mine.)

At the end of the round I asked the final four students how many words they spelled correctly. The first said three. The second one said three. The third one said three. The fourth one, Olivia, looked at me shocked, surprised, astonished and simply ecstatic when she finally realized she had spelled four words correctly and had won. With a jump of pure joy she yelled, "FOUR!" She then proceeded to run to my side, wraps her arms around my waist and dig her smiling face into my hip. It was special.

But all of sudden, I noticed another student, Rachel, crying. Her face ran soaked with tears. Her face scrunched together with emotion and she could not hold it in. Everyone in the room paused hoping she was upset because of losing. My Korean co-teacher asked her if she was OK, she nodded slightly. My co-teacher, looking surprised, then asked her, "Are you happy?" She nodded, once again, yes.

My heart dropped. Olivia ran into her friend Rachel's arms and two bawled with happiness over Olivia's accomplishment. They could not hold back the tears of joy.

Witnessing this type of purity turned a page on humanity for me. Rachel was truly happy for her friend. So much so it brought her to tears. This brought me to appreciate my job. I will forever take that moment away with me when I think back on my year of teaching tiny Korean pre-schoolers.

{Rachel on the left and Olivia on the right.}

Get Lost my friends....

11.22.2010

Korea: The Sandlot of Dreams

I did it. I suited up, put on some spikes, tipped my Dodgers hat and took the field. On Sunday, I played in my first baseball game in Korea.

It was a practice game of sorts that was not actually on a field but rather a big dirt space usually used for soccer. It kinda had a mound. It kinda had a backstop. It kinda had foul lines. It was kind of a baseball diamond.

I played with a group of guys between the ages of 27 and 42 against a team with the same demographics. They were all Koreans, they all smoked in between innings and they all loved playing baseball. The warm-up drills were formally done with batting practice and ground balls to go with it. Everyone had matching uniforms and expensive gear. Pep talks were given with vigor and we even lined up before the game and bowed to the opposing team.

I felt exhilarated. I came from playing in an old-man-softball-league where everyone crushed Keystones, cussed at each other and the idea of a bat-in-hand brawl breaking out always loomed.

Here, respect for the other team and the game comes first.

Our team, Khazon, scored 7 runs in the first inning while I walked and scored on a double. I then played first base. The idea being that I grew up playing baseball so I could at least catch a ball. I liked it. The pitcher tried a few pick off plays and the other team tried speaking English every time they reached first.

It was a perfect way to spend my Sunday. But, after about the fifth inning, and after I had hit an RBI-double and popped out, (4-hours and 15-minutes after I arrived at the ballpark) boredom struck. Everyone stopped talking to me because they had used up all of their English vocabulary and first base is historically a boring position reserved for non-athletic lefties and fat dudes.

But in the sixth, inspiration struck. From the on-deck circle I realized that the bases were loaded when one of my teammates said, "Mark, hit ball fast." I said OK and strolled to the plate. The pitcher had gotten me out my last time up and he looked confident. (Poor guy)

He threw a first pitch fastball. Strike. Then he shook off the catcher's pitch call and smirked. (Again, poor guy) I knew he was going to try his curve. The pitcher reached back, legged kicked like his hip spasmed and floated up a very weak pitch that spun furiously without curving or moving fast.

I crushed it. A grand slam.

While jogging around the bases, everyone on the other team came to a base to high-five me. My team had a high-five line at the plate and the pitcher even gave me a bow after he was taken out of the game. They gave me the ball after and even when I told them it was not necessary, they refused to have it back.

I hit another home-run on my next at-bat and the same parade went down. To be honest, I got a kick out of how excited they got but this is nothing to brag about. The bat I used would have been illegal in American high schools because it was too light and both pitchers were pretty much beginners. I actually felt kind of bad about it after because my RBI's alone put the game out of reach.

The whole day ended up being a very unique and touching experience. The players really went of their way to make sure I was having a good time and to see how passionate they were about a game that is generally taken for granted in the states, was humbling. Most of these guys have only been playing for a few years and even take baseball lessons as adults during the week to get better.

After the game I was called the hero of the day and received many congratulatory hugs.

And to think, it was only a practice game.

Get Lost my friends....

11.19.2010

I Hate Taekwondo

I've said it once, I'm saying it twice and I will most likely saying it again and again--I hate Taekwondo.

A country that trains kids in Taekwondo, is dangerous.

...

So I'm teaching right. Everything is going well. The kids are laughing, I'm laughing, everybody is having a good time. Generally, after my 30-minute session of singing the ABC song, I say 'Bye bye class!' and they all rush in like metal marbles to a magnet. Each vying for hugs or sleeve grabbing, maybe even a little arm hair petting. After a moment of group hugging, I start pulling them off one by one and try to get to the door. This is very normal.

But on this particular day, one of my little Korean students had a different version of the goodbye hug in mind.

Eddie, who stands about pocket high, reared back and unleashed a Dragonball Z style two-handed side punch to the 'oh-so-sensitive-region.

Kaplow!

I kid you not, I dropped to my knees and could not breathe for about 5 seconds.

While the rest of the class began a free-for-all dog pile on me, I pleadingly looked toward the my Korean co-teacher for help. She was giggling.

I hate Taekwondo.

...get Lost my friends.


11.15.2010

Turning 22

Liz had yet another birthday this past weekend. It's getting a little ridiculous. Every year, they keep happening...ZING.

Oh yeah, I'll zing yah.

Anyway, Liz has turned 22. Her big two-one was in Lyon, France last year ( a phenomenal three days) and the two-two happened in Seoul. I'm sorry America, this chick simply does not want to celebrate with you. Good thing she has plenty of people to celebrate with throughout the globe, and plenty to celebrate.



She recently shoved away any doubts or anxieties about moving out here by getting a job at an English radio station. She's almost famous. She has a great group of friends. All of which came out for her celebratory trudge through the city streets of Seoul on Saturday night. Thank you guys.

Her connection to her father out here has been a perfect evolution of discovery, love and support. They have the same smile, or maybe they smile the same way at each other. Either way, it's really cool to witness it unfold naturally.



And finally, she has a ton of love coming from the guy typing this.

The small details our Sunday together are not important so I thought I would post some pics to serve as a small outline.

{We went to the Seoul Tower.}


{Yo.}


{I etched our names. The Korean couple below it thinks we are nail-bitingly cute.}



{We then made our 'lock of love' to put on a fence at the base of the tower.}


{My 'lock of love' gesture was obviously very original and not something I discovered on google, I swear...Liz and I were jealous of the bike lock couple. That's real protection.}


{It's cute though.}

{Then of course, you must huck the keys off the mountain to symbolize locking it up forever.}


After our trip to the tower, we settled into a cozy restaurant for a glass of wine and talked about how good her birthday was.

We both agreed, it was the best yet.

Get Lost my friends....

11.11.2010

Pics from Liz

My lady's blog has some beautiful pics of our night in a very unique neighborhood in Seoul and since I have no pics, I thought you may enjoy this.

http://sansborders.blogspot.com/2010/11/hongdae.html


Get Lost my friends...

11.10.2010

I Got A Bike. So Stoked.

I got a bike. A good one. And for a good price. This is big for me because while on it, my palate for discovering nuances of my new life is frothing.

1.) I have discovered that instead of taking a 30-minute metro ride with cramped and grumpy Koreans I can get to the same spot in 20 on my bike.

2.) I have discovered that riding in the shadow of a sunrise along the Han river with perfect music eliminates the possibility of a bad day.

3.) I have discovered that stuffing your right pant leg into your sock to avoid chain catching or rubbing saves lives and dry cleaning bills...I officially apologize to all of the riders I mentally called 'dorky' at UC Irvine.

4.) I have realized that a fanny pack is very practical when riding a bike. It holds plenty and erases the threat of sweat stains from backpacks...Again, I officially apologize to all of the riders I mentally called 'dorky' at UC Irvine.

5.) I have discovered women and children will not move out of the way in Korea. As a matter of fact, women will cuss at your swerving-self while kids scurry to get in the way. ( I don't like this discovery)

6.) I have discovered that the stigma of Asians being bad drivers is America's fault. You see, out here, everyone drives crazy, thus creating a very alert and controlled driver. In America, Asian drivers must be weirded out by people following rules, thus the timid entries into corner turns.

7.) And finally, I have also discovered getting Lost on a bike. (So much better than on foot)

{There she is}

{I'm pretending to fix the bike while Liz takes a good pic.}

Get Lost my friends...

11.09.2010

The Intimate Mover

Last night I was walking back to my apartment with my headphones in when I caught a peripheral of a man waving and yelling in my direction. I looked and he smiled back. I was the target of his excitement. I did not recognize this man but while I processed all of the people I have met in the last six weeks he had already hustled up to me. So, I took out my headphones and heard this.

"I am Woobong Shin," he said. I just looked back.

"I like America," he said. I kinda smiled back.

"Do you need truck service?" he asked. I shook my head, no.

"OK, well, you are teacher, yes?" he asked. I nodded my head, yes.

"OK! The teacher in Korea is our best profession. I move Americans!" he yelped and gave me his card while completing the interaction by giving me an unannounced bear hug before I even said one word.

He stamped off and I put my headphones back in and looked at his card. Along with his name, cell and a picture of his flatbed truck, it read:


"MOVING AND DELIVERY SERVICE
FOREIGNERS ARE WELCOME"

Despite the fact that I did not say one word, felt slightly violated on the hug, did not know what he was talking about and missed the signal to cross the street because of him, I enjoyed this exchange.

Thanks for the hug Woobong.

Get Lost my friends...

11.03.2010

Teaching Gophers

Every so often I am victim to gopher screams. The gophers, of course, are my students.

I usually open a class with my 3-year-old non-English speakers by saying very slowly and clearly, "Hello class." They reply, very loudly and rushed, "HELLO MARKUH TEACHAHH!" I will then ask a series of simple questions to get them into English mode.

This generally goes over smoothly. But sometimes, every fourth day or so, one student will stop listening, lift his head like a gopher and start screaming. These are high frequency screams too. Not scared or sad shrieks like a baby. It's more like an animal call.

Because within one second, another will raise his head, like a gopher, and scream. Then two more join in. Then three more. In a matter of five seconds, 10 different students will be howling in a directionless commotion that can only be compared to a 'Dumb and Dumber' scene of, "do you want to hear the most annoying sound in the world?" But with Korean children and in a classroom.

Now, if I try to get louder and say be quiet, they get louder and more join in. So the only way to stop the phenomenon is to gently put my hand over the face of the initial screamer to calm him or her. This shuts down the beacon signal and the others come out of the daze within seconds.

The whole scene lasts about 15-seconds total. It's intriguing to watch unfold , really.

But to be honest, if I wasn't getting paid to teach, I would probably partake. They look so satisfied after a good group scream.

10.31.2010

Hiiiiigh-YA!

To lighten the mood in a classroom of stressed 5-year-old's, I sometimes waltz in and fake fight the little tykes. I snap an air chop here, throw a phantom sweep-kick there and even fake being hurt for their viewing pleasure.

They like this. Even the girls will attempt and jab or two just to be in the fray. Smiles sprout from their faces for these two-minute soire├ęs. Everyone is happy.

Except one kid.

Oh no. He takes this moment serious. During my flurry of fanning the students with fake punches, this boy waits. And waits. And...waits.

Then, after I begin to rattle off, "OK...OK...OK, that's enough sit down," and the other students begin to disperse back to the rug, he starts his approach. I don't see it coming, but I feel it when it hits.

He walks stealthily to within two feet of me, winds up and WHAMMY! I get a swift kick to my shin bone. For a split second I get pissed. But when I look at his face beaming with a smile of glory, I remember that Taekwondo is Korea's national sport and I immediately respect him more for doing what he has been trained to do.

...get Lost my friends.

10.28.2010

I Am So Glad I am Not in California

I saw a Korean dude with a SF Giants hat on today and I almost shoved him.

Go Rangers.

10.26.2010

What is That Smell? Oh, Yeah.

The other day I called a student up to the front of the class. He hopped up and screeched to a halt right next me. The floors are wood in the classroom and his socks (Koreans do not wear shoes indoors) allowed for a very smooth standing slide-and-stop right next to me.

He had a great running start, perfect power stance on the slide, his eyes were focused and he stopped on the exact spot I wanted him to. But just as his Tom Cruise "Risky Business" sock slide came to a halt, his face went pale, his body stiffened and he looked straight at me.

Then it happened.

Half a second after he looked up, he let out a fart. Not a big one. Not big enough for the class to hear but definitely big enough for me to hear and he knew it. He then did what most kindergartners would do...giggled.

I played teacher and pretended nothing happened but I could not get over the fact that it oh-so-gently and slowly wafted directly into my nose for the full 45-seconds he stood next me reading.

The weird part? The smell did not bother me. I was used to it.

You see, in most schools in Korea, the students and staff eat the exact same thing for lunch. And in those 45-seconds of fart filtering into my nose, I realized that if everyone eats the same things, everyone farts the same thing too. This equation creates a subtle undertone of fart throughout the afternoon everyday.

I am not sure how I feel about this. It's weird, yet OK. But it does make me question how much of that fart cloud is teacher produced. I guess we will never know.


...get Lost my friends.

10.25.2010

My first trip to Busan

My first bullet train zipped me into my first relaxing weekend in Korea. I traveled with Jamie, a friend of mine since middle school and one of Liz's best friends, on Friday night to meet Liz at her Korean families house in Busan.

Simply put, the comparison to the states run as follows: Seoul is like L.A. and Busan is like San Fransisco.

I agree. Considering it lines a huge harbor, has a giant bridge over that harbor and looks all together nicer at first glance than Seoul ever will, the comparison feels very true.

Here are some beautiful pictures Liz snapped on our short two day stint that was wonderfully hosted by her dad Stephen.

DSC_0033
{A shot from across the harbor.}

DSC_0016
{Liz, looking real smooth.}

DSC_0128
{Me, scooping a cup of water at a Buddhist Temple, Jamie, taking a pic of her boots.}

DSC_0119
{Puddles on the temple walkways.}

DSC_0148
{Me walking over a oddly dangerous bridge for a Buddhist sanctuary.}

DSC_0160
{Liz made it look easy. Athlete.}

DSC_0153
{These women were not as confident in their athletic abilities.}

DSC_0174
{The last meal before leaving Busan. I kind of enjoyed it. ;-) }

A great first trip, of many, to Busan.

...get Lost my friends.

The Art of Walking Slow

I used think of long slow walks as a sign of depression. A sign that you (or the mid-aged bedraggled woman that trudges through the sand on a lonely beach at sunset by herself) walk to get away. Being from Southern California, I used to think a long walk meant you are either depressed, disappointed or lost. A long walk became a soul searching endeavor done alone.

I used to walk slow when Liz lived in another part of the world. I have not had those types of walks in a while. Thankfully.

But here, the walk simply walks. It moves slower and slower as the destination nears. You do not walk slowly to get away but rather to stay in contact. The art of walking slow in Korea never happens alone. People arm in arm lose sight of the world in front of them. They simply listen or talk to the one person in the world important enough to be next to them for the walk.

This past weekend I walked with a buddy of mine I met in Italy a few years ago. He teaches down south in Busan and on our walk he looked up at the slow moving yet crowded coastline walking-trail and said, "You know, if Korea knows one thing, it's how to make a walking trail the right way."

Do not get me wrong. This culture moves fast. Determined, if you will. But front them with a table of Korean food, beer and rice wine and an after-meal walks will always ensue.

DSC_0073
{A few locals taking a walk after a meal in the beautiful Busan. Photo courtesy of Elysabeth}


I like these walks.

....get Lost my friends.

10.21.2010

I Get Petted

There is a tiny little person in my 4-year-old class that calls herself Leah. She wears ultra-magnified glasses that make her tiny eyes bulge with curiosity like the Korean version of the littlest "Who in Whoville." She is literally 2-foot-9 and constantly complains of a headache, a stomach-ache or any other word combo that ends in -ache to get a little extra help on her coloring worksheet.

Her kindness makes my day easier.

But she also makes my day slightly, well, uneasy.

You see, she pets.

I have many minor petting moments throughout the day. Yes, I know. Odd. But arm hair, it appears, rarely happens in Korea. As a result, the kids think I have fur...Like a pet teacher of sorts. I get tons of arms grazes or maybe a little pull followed by 4 kids running away giggling. They love it.

But Leah, she gets serious with her teacher-fur. For instance, when I sit in the mini-seat next to her to help spell the word 'because', she loses all interest in my explanation and starts petting. Full grooming motions like it's her daily visit to the pet store. Even after I get her attention back to the spelling issue, her tiny little fingers will slowly start to pet again and her eyes will slowly follow in the same direction.

She petted me on the very first day at school. Since then, a few full time petters have developed and the Korean teachers have to yell at them in Korean. But personally I am cool with it. If it means they will like me more, go for it. I mean, look at what the willingness to be petted has done for dogs. Right?

...get Lost my friends.

10.20.2010

My Job

I got to my desk in the teacher's room 30-minutes before my first class on and asked the guy next me, "How is it here?" He looked slightly befuddled.

"Have you ever taught before?" He asked.

"Nope," I said.

"Well, have you ever seen 'Kindergarten Cop?'" he asked. "`Cuz it's kinda like that."

I politely giggled and turned back to the English language workbook at my desk. I opened her up and I tried reading but I couldn't stop thinking about the governator's ulcer. That intro into the system did not sit very well. I immediately felt exhausted and out-of-my-league. "Who are these kids?" I thought. I had heard multiple horror-stories about private Korean schools just screwing Americans over. This job was a leap of faith and at this early point in my teaching career the faith I had possessed fell immediately with that comment.

But I sucked it up, repeated my motto (fake it 'till you make it) and cruised into class. 12 sets of curious eyes and anxious smiles waited patiently for my arrival. They got the first word.

"What is your name," little Rex asked.

"Mark."

"Mahkuh teacher!?!?" He boisterously replied as the class giggled. Koreans have trouble with the "r" "k" combo in English and they sometimes add vowels to end of English words.

I smiled. It was funny. I corrected him and spent the next 30-minutes laughing with the most intelligent 5-year-old's I have ever met. No disrespect to my nieces, nephews or little cousins but I had a full conversation with these kids in English the first time I met them. I was impressed, and excited.

I teach 12 4-year-old's, 12 5-year-old's and 13 7-year-old's that can all understand English. I also teach 24 5-year-old's that know very little English and a group of 3-year-old's that know about as much English as 3-year-old Korean children should know (they know colors and the word "hello"). All of these are split into groups of 30-minute classes and after 4 weeks I can honestly say I feel lucky being here. The kids are filled with love and the staff works really hard.

I did not exactly know I would be "teaching" such young kids, but who cares. I remember my friends after the age of 8 and it was nothing but annoying the authority figures. So I'm cool with it.

And plus, I'm too young to have an ulcer...I think.

...get Lost.

First Impressions

{Down the stairs into the metro}


Crowded....

10.19.2010

Notes From the Plane

(Here are some notes I took down while on the plane to Korea three weeks ago.)

It was a long day. Scratch that, it is a long day. I woke up with dew still hovering over a San Clemente camp site at 5:45 a.m. I stayed the night with my mom at a family reunion but woke up early to run the last of my "leaving for a year" errands before needing to get to the airport by 9 a.m. Mom and I raced up and down the 405 until getting to the airport promptly at 9 a.m. I said goodbye to my mom and even though her eyes were less watery than expected, they were as loving as ever.-- Her beauty travels so much farther than she will ever know.-- I boarded at 12:00 p.m. L.A. time, flew 12 hours and am now on my decent in Seoul. I have watched five movies, slept 4 solid hours, ate two incredible meals and now Thelonious Monk swimmingly carries me through my current peace...

(--I go on for a page about how Thelonious Monk's skittish but smooth piano stroking ability translates to my excitement based anxiety. Good stuff, not important to this post though--)

...this flight has helped. All 96 of the people in coach have been so kind. My seat partner helped me open the foreign packages. It's premature but every time one of the Korean people talk to me I say, "I have my new home."

We shall see how it plays out.

In 25-minutes I will be walking into a whole new adventure. I start teaching about 16 hours after I land. Ha, what a typical move. I leave no room for fidgeting. I move, and move fast. This new life will work well for me because I can "hustle" again. Work four jobs, run around a city, make weird money and enjoy the process as it speeds by.

I have relaxed for a year. Now I'll move quicker than I have ever moved before.

15 minutes to touchdown....Here we go.


(...And the ride has begun....)