The birds and the bees.

DING.DONG.DING. “Teachers, today’s excursion will be a safety puppet show presentation in the 4th floor auditorium  See you up there!” DING.DONG.DING.

As Kitty and Santa walked up the stairs with their classrooms they vented about the relief of not having to sing on the bus ride that morning. A fun puppet show sounded so much better. They sat down with their classes in front of 1 woman who had a few bags by her feet. Hm, no elaborate Korean costumes or set, this is a first thought Santa. The woman began to speak in Korean and all the kids chanted back to her. She pulled out 2 dolls, 1 boy and 1 girl and continued to talk. Finding it pretty boring Santa and Kitty started to drift off into their own worlds but were gravitated back to the show when they noticed the speaker singing while undressing the dolls. Then they noticed the dolls had detailing they had never seen on a doll before. The speaker started to point to body parts. Kitty and Santa scanned the room and noticed their 7 year old (really only 5 year old) classes had their heads cocked to the side and jaws dropped. Kitty looked at Santa and whispered “Is this a safe sex talk?” Santa looked like a deer caught in the headlights and was non-responsive. The children started to chant something in Korean as the speaker pulled out a picture. Kitty and Santa’s eyes grew bigger. What in the world?

The kids chanted and screamed….was this some kind of weird game? OH, Gosh yes. Yes, it was. The louder they screamed the faster the sperm traveled to its final destination. The kids went wild when it finally reached the egg. The students had their game faces on and the teachers were all giggling like 5 year olds. “Ok, well I’m happy thats over” Kitty said. It wasn’t though, not even close to it. The speaker then brought out another doll, this time the doll was pregnant and wearing a moo moo. The speaker proceeded to put her hand up the moo moo and with the help of the cheering children pulled a baby, out of the baby doll. This wasn’t the cute kind of baby doll you would give to your 5 year old on Christmas morning. No no, this baby doll was very premature and fully equipped with an attached umbilical cord. The kids reacted appropriately with an ewww.

Next activity! Who wants to be pregnant?! At first the kids didn’t know if this was a trick question, but after one hand shot up in the air they all decided they wanted to be with child. The speaker chose the lucky guy. The little boy approached the stage with caution. The speaker pulled a pregnant body suit out of the bag and showed him. Speaker: “Do you want to wear this” Child: “aahhhaaaaaaa (awkward laugh)” He was regretting his decision instantly and managed to escape before she dressed him in the flattering pink suit.

“Looks like we need a new volunteer!” of course Santa’s student, The Fonzi, jumped on the opportunity.

Kitty’s student didn’t seem to mind the suit but the speakers face is telling her other wise.

After the “safety” puppet show had come to an end Kitty and Santa looked at each other, “Wait, are we going to have to write an excursion report on this?” An excursion report usually entails writing about all the fun things the students got to do on their weekly trip, and this one wasn’t going without documentation.  As they sat in the front of the classroom asking the kids what they had learned the responses were well, hard to put into words.  Let’s just say there were a lot of visuals as the students scanned their english vocabulary for words that described what they had experienced that day.  Kitty and Santa usually help them make the sentences flow, but were drawing blanks themselves.  Nothing like getting the sex talk before shipping off to first grade at the public schools.  We would have gladly grabbed the mic on the bus that day if it meant sparring ourselves the brutality of the so called safety show. Until next week…

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Bears at the dump.

Kitty and Santa were so lucky to get 2 excursion days this week. The first being a trip to the Gwangju City dump! Image

When Kitty saw the dump excursion on the week schedule she questioned Santa in a frenzy.  “Do you think we are going to the dump or the recycling center? The dump is really dangerous, I dont think they would take us there.” Santa was a little confused “Well, ya I probably wouldn’t want my kid going to the dump. it’s disgusting but I don’t think it’ll be that dangerous.” Kitty was in shock. “WHAT? There are bears at the dump Santa!” Still in confusion Santa replied “Wait, what? There are? How do you know?” “Aaah YA there are, I know! I saw them when I was a kid. We were in Canada and my dad wanted to see some bears so he drove us all to the dump and we watched one eat a couch in front of our car. It was so scary. I’m just saying I don’t want to see any bears again”. Santa was in tears but she respected the validity in her point. She didn’t want to see any bears either.

Rest assure there were no bears at the dump, just trash and outdated technology. Kitty and Santa felt like they had traveled back in time as they toured the plant. The 1970’s control room, resembling something out of Apollo 13, was fascinating to see still being used in todays era.

ImageThe monotors with just flames really added to the special effects.ImageIf the kids weren’t with us Kitty and Santa would have lit up some cigars and did the countdown to take off! 10.9.8….

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A grungy korean man approached them all like “Check this out” to the kids. He was definitely the coolest guy in the room hitting those buttons and navigating trash in his space chair.Image

Kitty and Santa were actually a little jealous of his mad skills. He could win them a lot of teddy bears at an arcade. Image

On excursion days the co-teachers always act like paparazzi with photos of the kids and everything they are doing. It usually consumes about 95% of the trip, waiting to take photos. This time the lights didn’t seem to flash at all. Although Santa did see one co-teacher making her kids pose next to some steam pipes. Way to keep it dangerous and edgy teacher!

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without seeing how many people they could fit into an elevator ride. 2 classes? no, no…lets go for 3 classes AND the teachers!! Clearly it wasn’t this co-teachers brillant idea but they were successful. 3 classes and 5 teachers deep. Image

“Teacheeerrrr, Jack too close” haha he loves to terrorize.Image

Lessons learned here: Always watch for bears at the dump. The garbage man’s job is like playing in a jumbo arcade room & never underestimate the size of an elevator.

Kindergarten Camp

For the past few weeks the kids have been counting down the days until camp.  Kitty, Santa and the other teachers were oblivious to what this camping was or what exactly it would entail.  We soon found out that it was a two day deal where all the kindergartners spent the night at the school with the co-teachers (thankfully we weren’t asked to pitch tents and stay over).  There were a lot of activities planned for the two days they would be at camp.  As usual the foreign teachers had little info on what was about to go on.  Lets just say it wasn’t the kind of camping that Santa and Kitty were use to; there weren’t any tents, sleeping bags, s’mores, camp fires, or ghost stories.  The first day was a lot of crafts, coloring and costumes.  To Santa and Kitty’s surprise, one of the crafts included painting a piece of china with our pictures on it.  Our faces were everywhere.

Time to decorate

Upon showing up to school on the morning of day two we were immediately whisked onto the colorful buses.  It appeared that some of the bus drivers overslept, because it got quite cozy on the buses.  So cozy that some of the passengers started to nod off.  It seemed that the co-teachers weren’t the only ones that didn’t get much sleep.  After a few rounds of 5 Little Monkeys and Twinkle Twinkle we arrived at our destination.  We spent the morning at an agricultural center.  We managed to keep everyone awake, including the teachers, and were back on the bus in time to for a quick nap before arriving at school for lunch.  Lets just say by the time camp came to a close everyone was ready to head home.  Now we know why this is a one time of year thing:)

Fully loaded

Mid morning nap

Agriculture Center

Cat nap on the way back to school

Kimchi love

KIMCHI! If you don’t know what this is let Kitty and Santa enlighten you. Kimchi is the center of the Korean universe. Every dish served (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert) is almost always accompanied with a side of Kimchi, or made of Kimchi.

Wikipedia says “Kimchi, also spelled gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is Korea’s national dish, and there are hundreds of varieties made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber.”

Kimchi is so loved that when anyone smiles for a photo they say “KIMCHEEE” instead of our version ” CHEESE”. Our Wednesday field trip was to Kimchi Land to educate the children on this spicy fermented vegetable they have been consuming since birth, Kitty and Santa learned some things as well. For an example, you can make ANYTHING out of Kimchi. Enjoy some photos of Korean culture!

Getting ready to make some Kimchi pancakes

This video showed the children how Kimchi is made. Here is a baby taking his first bite of Kimchi, don’t worry the hot chili taste will go away with a bottle of milk!

Heading back to the bus in a Michael Jackson style trench coat, we only travel in style in Korea.

TIIIIIMBER! Excursion day.

Every Wednesday Kitty and Santa set out on an excursion with our kindergarten classes. Field trips are something Kitty and Santa remember fondly from childhood. Going to the Zoo, roaring rapids at the water park, children’s museums, apple orchards, picking pumpkins and even over night camping trips to the local state park. When we found out that every Wednesday we were going to get to go on a mini adventure, we were more than ecstatic to hear the news.

Kitty and Santa saw on the schedule that our excursion day was set for a “Forest Experience”. hmm. This should be fun, maybe a little hiking or games in the woods. In the morning an announcement over the classroom intercom came on. DING. DONG. DING.”Attention teachers! Todays excursion will be to the something in korean farm. We will be letting the children use dangerous equipment like saws and hammers so please be sure to keep a safe watch over your classroom. Thanks!” DING. DONG. DING. Santa was positive the noise in her classroom made her hear that entire thing wrong so she walked next door to see what Kitty heard. “Saws and hammers?! They are 7 years old, but really only like 5 years old!”

——-> SIDE NOTE<——– In Korea, when you are born. Your 1 years old. On New Years day all Koreans turns a year older together. Therefore, on your actual birthday you do not celebrate turning older but just the day you were born. SOO, for an example, if you were born on December 25th you would be 1 years old but then on January 1st you would be 2 years old. So in our classes of 7 year olds most of them are 5 and most the of 5 year old classes are, well, really little. You get my point?

The kids piled on the brightly decorated school bus in their matching excursion jumpsuits. On bus rides to our destinations it is the English teachers job to keep the children entertained with singing into a microphone.  We are confident to say that with the set of vocals on Kitty and Santa we will not be signing up for any American Idol contests any time soon.

We arrived at the farm 20 minutes later and were greeted with boxes of saws and small thin white gloves to wear. We couldn’t figure out if these were intended for protection or to give the kids a little Michael Jackson flare and style.

Cute little Jack + stick = deadly weapon

The kids were loving this trip, it probably was the intense excitement of seeing some drama unfold in front of their very eyes. Kitty and Santa were on watch making sure no kids were running, jumping, or hitting others with saws.

Kids, this is a sharp saw.

Teacha Teacha! Look what I found!

Kitty and Santa were told that we would be having a picnic lunch and this was a first. At home when you pack a brown paper lunch it usually includes some type of easy make sandwich, a fruit and maybe a small snack. Today’s lunch was 1/2 a cup of white rice, some egg topped with…ketchup! MMmmM! Also serving a side of kim-chi (because there is never a meal in Korea, no matter how small, without kim-chi) and pickled radish. Eat up kids!

The kids ended up all surviving the trip. The Korean teachers thought it was such a success that they told us they are going to start bringing the children here more! YAY! Kitty and Santa went home shared a bottle of wine to release some anxiety.

Next week we are going to KIM-CHI LAND – a place full of different types of fermented cabbage in fiery hot chili sauces. A word of advise from our bosses “wear red, it might get messy.” Just goes to show that cultural differences are rather large and the children here in Korea are most definitely exposed to a different type of fun.

PEACE, LOVE & CULTURE SHOCK TO YOU ALL! – Santa & Kitty

Call me chef

Once a week Kitty and Santa get a new schedule from the school that has their daily curriculum planed out. One thing we noticed is that because we speak English people think we know how to do just about everything including how to cook foreign foods. We walked into our classes the other day and realized it was planned for us to teach the kids how to make Sushi. HMMM. Santa walked into Kitty’s classroom conveniently located right next to her’s to discuss the matter. “Are you making sushi today?” “umm yes.” “What does that even mean?” “I have no idea.” So there we were again, plummeting into the unknown, at least were getting good at laughing at ourselves. Our co-teachers brought us the ingredients and the improve began! We used seaweed wrappers, 3 different types of sticky rice, crab, cooked ham and pickled radish. (weird combo but it was actually pretty good!)

Not too shabby for our first time! Before every snack / meal the kids do this prayer like chant together. As teachers we say “Hands together!” and everyone claps their hands together like they are going to pray and they say “Thank you mom, thank you Dad, thank you teacher for this food!  Leeeeeetttttssss Eaatttt!” Kitty claims she always has the urge to say “AAAMMMEEENNN!” after haha

TEACHER! TEACHER!

Here is our school, located about 10 steps outside of our front door. Kitty says it looks like Lego Land and Santa couldn’t agree more!

They call us “Savannah teacher and Katie teacher” and all the little kids and some adults wiggle with excitement trying to get a better look at us when we walk around the school. Sure, we stand out in a crowd and our faces are pretty much plastered with confusion and nervousness but deep down were just as excited as they are!

So a little background to this story. Finding shoes to bring was a HUGE ordeal. We heard that they didn’t sell giant shoes and since both Kitty and Santa wear a size large we stocked up. It was hard to tell what kind of shoes we would be wearing in school though so we literally brought boots, heals, flats, sandals, walking shoes, running shoes…Kitty even brought slippers that she said she was going to try to pull off as flats. Santa didn’t think that was a good idea but she is always looking for a way to sneak comfort into her day so she did it anyways. The first day we were nervous about what to wear and wanted to make a good impression. As we walked up to the school we saw some shoes outside the school, Santa quickly reacted “shit, you don’t think we have to take our shoes off, do you?” We walked up and a little lady gestured for us to take our shoes off, so we did. Then she brought us to this wall of cat slippers and pointed for us to take some. So we did. She showed us to a room to wait and as soon as we were in we both reacted at the same time. Santa said “What are these?” at the same time Kitty exclaimed with excitement “this is awesome!” A few minutes later we confirmed with another English teacher that we would be wearing slippers in school, all day, every day for the rest of our Korean teaching career. Needless to say, I think South Korea just won Kitty’s heart forever.

SNACK TIME! Every kid’s / adults favorite time of the day. We got 2 snacks through out the day. Our Korean co-teachers would whip something up in the corner of the class and serve it to us. Lets just say that snack is a lot different from the juice, goldfish & animal crackers were use to. On today’s menu was rice mixed with fish and seaweed with a tart plum juice and fishcakes and chili sauce for a mid-day pick me up. We actually loved both of them but it sure was weird to see 5 year olds using chopsticks eating food that in our culture would only be served as an adult snack, for the health conscious.

We were able to shadow classes on the first day. Day 2 we will get our own classrooms and students. We teach kindergarten in the mornings and elementary in the afternoons!

Off to our second day with our own classrooms! Wish us luck, I think we might need it!