Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup 2010

For the first time, in an overseas competition, Korea made it to the top 16 in the World Cup. Celebrations and screenings dotted the entire country with gathering of red masses, as if the beloved Red Devils had made it to the final game. Even though the celebration were a little premature, I cannot hate. I have enjoyed every moment spent celebrating alongside the greatest of all soccer fans! The red. The beer. The soju. The horns. The inflated plastic slapping sticks and abundant clap-clap-clap-clap- "DAEHAMINGUK"! It's contagious! And Korea definitely puts up a fight for worlds greatest fans!

Last Wednesday night work let out at 9:30. Around 11pm some friends and I boarded the subway into Seoul. An all nigher for the sake of soccer! Dressed in red, pumped with espresso, we were headed toward Coex, one of the many national, outdoor screening locations. We arrived shortly before midnight and were kindly greeted with a sea of red and a contagious air of excitement... such things needed for a 3:30 am game.

Though the time difference between South Africa and Korea has made for some unfortunately timed games, Korea has shown up unwavering in support and dedication. We emerged from the station onto the streets closing down and thousands of people finding their seats in the middle of the street. A scene rather foreign to a foreigner like myself, but addicting nonetheless! How has America not caught the World Cup bug yet?

For those of you who didn't watch the game, which i assume is most of you, we tied Nigeria 2-2 and it was a fantastic game! I found myself sidelines on the curb sandwiched between two good looking Korea men for the second half-- and it was a good place to be. Surrounded by true fans, watching a fantastic game, yawning as the sun rose over Seoul. It was magical. The game clock ran out, Korea went crazy! In one massive, untied display of love, Korea advanced into the Top 16. Everyone packed up and headed for bed. Most of us headed to work in a few short hours.

Last night was Korea's final game in the World Cup. The celebration preparations started early and the fever spread. As I made my way to the track for an early Saturday morning run, I was greeted with a massive stage and screen set up on one half of the track. Sanbon had caught the bug too. Horns and music, chanting and red filled the streets early-- waking up a lazy fan like myself early Saturday morning.

This game was much earlier than the first. Just before the game some friends and I found ourselves sitting curbside of a Yongin corner dive called Cheers. We ordered some beer and sat surrounded by true fans. Some of who, under the affects of a few too many beers, took a particular liking to us foreigners. He and his cell phone dictionary found their sweet way to the step on my side. "May i ask what is your name?" he asked. I was short. Not usually rude, but dude, just watch the game. I know i stand out, but that's not an invitation to introduce me to the entire bar.

Anyway, he left just before the game really got started. Right after he pulled up into the middle of the intersection, on the wrong side of the road, to say farewell and pass along his business card to our table. Oh brother- you should really not be driving.

Well the game, again was fantastic! You could feel, literally feel, the joy and pains of each goal. Unfortunately, in the end Uruguay prevailed with a late game goal. Silence came over the country. After a short applause and a few last glass raises, Korea packed up and headed home. Korea showed up this year! I'm thankful to be in a place who appreciates soccer and the World Cup like Korea does! It's fantastic!

Friday, June 25, 2010


I have a hard time narrowing down my favorite class. However, given several factors, this class puts up a good fight! Thee little guys are my Elementary 3 class and they are FANTASTIC. Though a little rowdy at times, they just melt my heart! I took over this class in the Meysen, which is more of a story telling, song singing, poem learning curriculum. Unfortunately, we've moved into a regular desk-ed classroom where we have to work out a ridiculously boring reading comprehension book. They're growing up.
But we make do- and we have fun while we do it! Let me introduce them to you!

henny. My sweet Henny is a quiet one, but her chuckle is contagious! She is not smiling in this picture, however she rocks a smile that will melt the roughest of hearts! She loves two things that i find particularly cute. The first: when i ask her how she is doing, she always answers with a shy, “I’m fine.” So consistent that the other students finish her sentence before she is able to. Second thing she likes to do is wear my jewelry. If i am wearing bracelets one day, she will come over, take them off my wrist, and wear them during class. In the beginning before we moved into a classroom with desks, I would sit with them on the carpet an read them stories. She would come over, and sit as close as she could to me. Often times rubbing her cheek against my sweaters. I think she has a rough family life-- i'm praying she feels the love of Jesus in me (or my sweater!)

sonic. My little Sonic! His “real” English name is Gerald, but he likes to be called Sonic. You know, “the hedgehog” he once told me. I joke that if he were 15 years older I’d marry him and if her were an orphan i’d adopt him. He’s that stinkin’ cute. First, in one of my first classes I taught him the world “pretty”, which he later used to call me “Miss Pretty Teacher”. Sold. Favorite student award now taken. Everyday before class, he makes his way to my desk. Where we play two games. One, he’ll poke his head around the corner, i’ll notice him, make a funny face, he’ll laugh, and run back to class. The second is as i make my way to class i’ll pretend to chase them, they get all scared, scream, “SARAH TEACHER” and run back to class. He hides in the corner until i “find him”. It makes me smile! When he tries to tell me a story, most of the time horribly complicated, in which he cannot think of the English words, he becomes a charades master. It usually ends with him on the floor somehow, making sounds akin to Evan in Bruce Almighty. Without fail- he brightens my day! Except yesterday he asked me, "Teacher, expand?" pointing to his stomach and suggesting a pregnant belly of sort. Translated: "Teacher, are you getting fat?" I chuckled and said... "Oh Sonic!" The things they ask you. (I'm hoping it was my loose fitting sweater.) : )

kevin. Oh Kevin! Kevin is smart! I am constantly impressed by his ability to understand and comprehend what i’m saying, at such a young age! And like Henny, his favorite thing to do is to see how often he can tell me “I don’t know!” Oh, he knows, but i play along for kicks. “Kevin, how are you?” ... “I don’t know.” “Kevin, what’s your name?”... “I don’t know!” It continues. He laughs. I laugh. All is well. One thing he does know is what his “dream” is. Yesterday i was teaching them jobs and the question, “What is your job?”. Focusing on the “I am a...” and “He/She is a...” you know, a good ESL lesson. Anyway, i had a picture vocab worksheet of different jobs. After finishing the worksheet he chimed in, “Teacher, what is your dream?” Translated- “Teacher, what do you want to be when you grow up?” They’re smart i tell you! I answered and reversed the question, “Kevin, what do you want to be when you grow up?” “I want to be a science man,” Kevin answered. “ A scientist! Kevin, you’d make a wonderful scientist!” I told him... he smiled!

cloara. You never know what you’re going to get with Cloara- but it always makes me happy! Before moving to our classroom, she would make her way as close to sitting in my lap as she could manage while I read our stories. Often times just wanting to hold my hand or play with my rings while i read. Her sweetness is also coupled with a stubbornness that makes me laugh inside! Sometimes i’ll ask her to do something, like sit down, and she’ll stand there and say “No” with a face straighter than my laughter can contain. She just likes to push my buttons and if she weren’t so dang cute, it could be really annoying. The other day she came over to me with her little princess-set clip-on earrings and put them on me. Little blue and silver stars. I struck a pose. She looked over at me, shook her head, planted her hands on her hips, shook her head and said “uhhhh” in much disapproval. It was pretty funny! Oh Cloara, i like her!

Here they are! My Elementary 3 Class. I like them!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Well Done Korea!

For the first time ever, in a foreign match, Korea has moved on to the top 16 teams in the World Cup! A huge feat! Catch the whole story here!
(more personal anecdotes when i can process thought more clearly. after pulling and all nighter in downtown Seoul with thousands of Korea fans watching the game, i'm struggling. I'm Currently running on 4 hours of sleep, a half empty cup of coffee, and baggie of Special K... and have 5 classes ahead of me. Wish me luck!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Sweet Collision

Travel is more than sightseeing. It’s reach is beyond the gates of an un-ventured city and it’s end far above a brilliant skyline of the world’s most impressive shores. Though sadly it’s often boiled down to a pursuit of the most impressive and a constant pressing onward to the next thrill. All the while, simple alleys and worn door frames are passed over. The very places which house the people that make these wonders so rich. These people fill the streets and their hands make the trinkets we buy. Guilty travelers look through these faces, past the ticket booths, onto to the golden statues. After all, that’s what we came to see, right?

Let me digress for a moment.

I believe in a Creator. A creator who creates good and beautiful things! Things which flow out of who he is. I’d even venture to say that he might create beauty simply for the delight of his children. Does the grandness of Yosemite Valley serve a purpose? Can it’s extravagance be calculated? Or maybe, it exists simply to display the beauty and expanse of a good Creator who takes delight in creating awesome things. A photo-op, road trip worthy, account of a God whose hand is mighty and whose brilliance is breathtaking! Could it be that he would create things just for our enjoyment? Does he smile when giddiness rises out of a soul seeing the first glimpse from the summit? I think so! But I must venture still to say, without question, that the people whom he scatters across this globe in the very places we esteem worthy of travel, are even more so astounding. Created in the very image of this great Creator, far more intricate and highly cherished than the greatest of all the world’s natural most bewitching wonders. Worthy of more affections than the best of these.

Allow me to venture a bit further. What if one’s desire to see the world’s treasures collided sweetly with one’s deep seeded personal convictions? Could these ordained soap boxes of sorts, planted in the heart of a fearfully fashioned heart, move from personal conviction to action, in a place fantastically awesome? Could travel be the means by which I fulfill what I was created to do? Something greater than a full passport, a collection of anecdotes to share with friends, and a collection of tailored pieces for publication?

I have to argue yes.

Change is possible. Travel is the means by which we do it. Writing is the method by which I steward my gift of a voice.

A year ago I sat, fixated on my now retired iBook, in a dimly lit dorm room. A week long, campus- wide discussion prompted my own investigation. Article after article, hour after hour, I was left shaken. Forever so. That night a deep seeded fury took root in a young heart. A young heart ambitious to see, explore and write about the world one over. Convicted of the massive problems that plague it, convinced she knew someone who was coming to make things right, and two hands free and longing to do something about it in the meantime. You see, in the midst of a beautifully created, brilliantly orchestrated world, there is evil. Evil that is stealing, killing, destroying that which was created to flourish. This wasn’t new to me; I knew things were broken. But I was shaken with the urge to do something about it. Shaken beyond the ability to sleep, and so I read on.

International Trade: A Marketplace of Humans. For vile, horribly defiling, repulsively debasing, purposes. Men. Women. Children. In all corners of the world. From the bungalows of Thailand, the weathered cobble stone of Europe, to the iconic comfort and perceived greatness that is California and Las Vegas. People! Bought! Taken! Used up by the superior-ly vile in the most exotic, intoxicating, sought after world wondrous locations. A white washed extravagance of a beautiful place secretly rotten within. Funded by travelers themselves.

I stand at a balance. On it sits an awe and wonder of a world waiting to be explored, and its counter in a fiery mission to change it. Repulsed to think I could have some contribution to it. How do I, as a traveler, uphold, admire, and pursue the beauty of this world without treading past the souls of people who I was created to touch?

I am convinced it’s a rather delicate balance. Passions and convictions have the opportunity to move to powerful world change when eyes find their way off the golden statues of a foreign land, and into the eyes of the people who live there. To dive head first into their stories, venturing relentlessly to listen and love in radical ways. I was given a heart, a mind, a relative restlessness, and a MacBook, wired to go and be and do big things. Not for thrill’s sake, or outside accolades, but rather on mission to make a change in things. And to tell people about it! To bring life where death threats, and light where darkness looms. Nothing fancy. Just an overflow of love into the lives and land of folks who need it most.

Ironically, I find this very mission dropping me into the loftiest of world wonders. Adventure awaits. But my eyes are fixed. Heaven forbid travel ever again be simply for the next grand wonder over the people who I might meet there.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


My work days start in class with these munchkins. They're fantastic! If you can't tell by this picture, my boys are crazy. My girls are sweethearts! And i LOVE it.
Let me introduce you to them!

the boys.
Adam. Is a stinkin' riot. He is always doing KPop dance moves attempting to wrestle N0-ah. Which , considering the size difference, is almost impossible. I hardly walk into class and not find them in a full out wrestling match. No-ah and Adam are buddies.

No. Or more class room appropriate Noah. Some of you might remember the story, but on No's first day in my class, i asked him to to pick an English name. He told me he wanted to be called "No". I was thoroughly confused. I asked him, "Do you want to be called Noah?" And he said, "No. NO!" A joke and a joy ever since. This kid is brilliant. My favorite moment in this class thus far is with No and Adam. Adam was talking a lot on day in class. Answering a lot of questions and well, No was getting ticked. So, No, nonchalantly reaches over and covers Adams mouth with his hand. No, without any hesitation and impeccable timing sticks his tongue out and licks the heck out of his hand. I couldn't hold back the laughter! It was SO funny.

Alex is a my rebellious teacher's pet. He's great! He is just learning English and his favorite thing is when i ask him what the weather is. Part of my curriculum teaches the weather and the differences between rain, raining, rainy, etc. So, i start a lot of my days asking the kids what the weather is like today. Alex will answer and say " Today's weather is sunny, and hot, and rainy, and snowy, and wet and dry and Sarah Teacher, and Alex... yada yada yada." until i cut him off with an "Oh Alex!"

Tim is my man of many voices. Holy heck this kid is full of energy and quickly established himself as my class clown. I say that he is the man of many voices, because every time i ask him a question or ask him to read is does so with an absolutely hilarious voice. And while most of the time i cannot understand a bloody thing he is say, i cannot stifle the fun because he's taken speaking English to a whole new level and it just makes me smile! I do believe he also holds a record for most request to "SIT DOWN."
My boys like to give me high fives. I let them give me a high five when the can tell me their poems by memory or when they leave class. They thoroughly enjoy a little game we're created: How many rapid high fives can i give Miss Sarah before she pulls her hands away. It's fun.

the girls. my sweet girls.
Diana. Oh Diana. She is one smart girl and does she have a lip on her! Holy toledo. But i can handle it. She loves to speak Korean in class, which is a no-no. So I often encourage her by saying, "Only English ladies!" To which she responds, "But Miss Sarah, this is Korea." A comment most often accompanied with a half-scared look of rebellion. A funny one she is! : )

Julie. Is a knockout sweetheart. First in line to turn in her homework and always trying to tell me a story about her day or weekend, she just melts my heart. Most of those conversations go like this. "Teacher. Jessica. After A-Class. Game." Which means "Teacher, guess what! After A-Class, Jessica is coming to my house to play!" I've become a professional decoder. Anyway, Julie loves to play Simon says. One day after i had had it with the daily, "TTEEEEECCCCHHHHEEERRRR. GAAAAMMMMEEEE!!!! " I taught my class to say "Miss Sarah, may we play Simon says please?" I start almost every day with it and Julie's eyes light up. She rocks that madness with all seriousness and it just makes me smile. She's a pro.

Hannah. Miss Hannah. My royal Space Cadet. This girl has mastered the art of spacing out, and almost daily, as i'm making my way to class, she b-lines it to the bathroom. She likes to hide, or escape, or whatever it is she is trying to do. If my reflexes are oiled my quick "HANNAH" will stop her mid dash and she turn around defeated and trudge back to class. Most of the time i cannot find her, and she doesn't make it to class until well into the first 10 minutes. She doesn't speak English very well at all, BUT i would say she has improved the most. When i first took over the class she was not even willing to read out loud, now, she bolts out what she knows!
The girls love it when i secretly tell them to lip sync the songs on the girl part. It confuses the boys and they giggle uncontrollably. It makes me happy!

This is my first class!

Sunday, June 6, 2010



It's 9:45 am, June 7th, and I think it's safe to say summer is here. My windows are open, the fan is blowing, and i'm sitting here, basically inactive, sweating up a storm. So unfortunate. But, until the humidity swamps over, I just can't bring myself to turn on my air conditioner yet. I'm from the desert- i got this!

Much has happened since my last greeting. I'm pushing 5 months in Korea, and life is good! I'll break my update into a few categories to make this greeting more organized.

Work is good. Though the past few weeks have provided moments and days of pure chaos, for the most part, my job remains the same and i'm still enjoying it. I am really enjoying my writing classes. In one of my middle school classes, i was teaching them how to write "How-to" or procedural essays. I told them to pick anything. Serious. Funny. Crazy. Boring. Whatever they wanted to write about, WRITE ABOUT IT. (And like it!) One of my favorite students wrote: "How to Blink". And let me tell you, it was a brilliantly written, hilariously funny essay that just made me smile! Writing is fun... and i hope my kids are learning that!
Excerpts to come soon.

I have taken a few small trips since my last greeting.
The Lotus Lantern Festival was great! I missed the parade, but got to see some of them on the river at night, which was beautiful .

Kelly, Nick, Steph, Ames, and Me

Over the weekend of Buddha's birthday, the ladies and I traveled to Gyeongju. It was a great, horribly less than ideal trip, but much needed trip out of Seoul. Check out my blog below for the full story! I also attended my second baseball game, and like the first, it was awesome. I like to say im an official Doosan Bears Fan. Korean sporting events are just fantastic, and for 5,000W... you can't pass it up. I also made my way to the Korea- Ecuador soccer game! Which was also awesome. Korea likes soccer. Again, check out the post below for a more complete story.

World Cup
Speaking of sports, the World Cup starts this weekend, and unlike the good USofA, soccer is a big deal in Korea. And when i say big, i mean MASSIVE. This weekend is a major game: Korea vs. Greece. Thousands of people will be flocking to the center of Seoul to watch the game in one large, red sea of fans. It's going to be awesome, and undoubtedly overwhelming. But, not something to miss out on. More to come on that soon, but it's going to be awesome.

I recently applied for a Glimpse Correspondent position. If chosen, i'll embark on a 10 week endeavor this fall to write and produce features for the online magazine In doing so, i'll have access to journalists from whom i'll learn the art of travel writing.
Ah! I get excited thinking about the possibility.

A lot is coming up. I'm pushing my 6 month mark and the summertime is promising a lot of awesomeness.
  • DMZ Tour. There is rumor that they might shut it down if tensions continue, and I will be horribly disappointed if miss it.
  • 23. Whoot! My birthday is coming up, and i'm going to rock it Korean style.
  • Mud Festival. Summer time. Mud. Awesome.
  • Summer Break. Last weekend of July, we're hoping to make it down to Busan for a long weekend on the beach in a new place. Ahh... just delight to my heart.
  • Thailand at some point in my tenure to visit a good friend!!
Good things are to come this summer! The awesome team of foreign teachers I work with will be turning over this summer too... which is sad. So so sad. They're awesome and I will miss them dearly, but, it's also exciting knowing that new folks are on their way, and new things are to come.

If there is anything I've learned about life, it's that things change. Sometimes things change in big ways. But, God is good. Life is made up of choices. And life is a awesome adventure! Even more so when you're living in a foreign country!

Blessings to you all!
sarah, capa, potts, pottsie

Things to look forward to
  • Taste Test: The Korean Sausage Phenomenon.
  • Meet the Kiddos: Want to meet my students?