Friday, September 21, 2007

Pictures! From Hwasun

As promised, here are some pictures of my school, of Gwangju, and of my host family. I wish I had a good picture to show you of the town of Hwasun itself, but honestly, it's such a small town (and I never have a good enough view from the bus). Just imagine a cluster of high-rise apartments and brightly-lit streets, seemingly surrounded by rice paddies and, just a little farther out, green-blue mountains.

Now on to the actual pictures!

First up, here's my school. The long white building on the right is the main school building, while the red brick building in the back is the cafeteria and boys' dormitory. Behind that building is the girls' dormitory.

This is the view from the front entrance to my school. You can see the dirt field where the kids play soccer during phys ed classes and the gym in the background, to the right.

This is a bad picture of some of my students outside. They do mandatory stretching with the students everyday between 4th and 5th period. I tried to take a surreptitious picture from the teacher's room, and it's not a very good one, but you can at least catch a glimpse of some of my students.

Host family time! I haven't wrangled my host parents into taking a picture yet. But I do have some excellent pictures of my host siblings!

Here's my host brother, Yeo-nu (pronounced Yaw-nu). You might be able to guess from this picture that he's around four years old that he's noisy, always moving around and pretending that he's some sort of superhero, beating up and climbing all over the rest of us. Or maybe you couldn't guess that. But if you did, you'd be right. I've successfully taught him "hi!", "bye!", and "oh no!". I also taught him "water," briefly, but I think he forgot it. Besides, I think he generalized water to include the fish bowl that was surrounding the water at the time. Language learning in little kids is cool to watch.
Next, these are my host sisters. Mi-na is the one who has her hands blocking her face. (The peace sign, by the way, is done by almost all Koreans when they take pictures. It's extremely cute. I've already started doing it myself.) Anyway, Mi-na is in her first year of middle school, which corresponds to seventh grade in the United States. She's very sweet, and although her English is still limited, I think she's quite good given her age. Furthermore, she tries very hard and is usually not shy about just trying to talk, which is the most important part of learning a language anyway!

Beside Mi-na is Ji-eun. She's in, I believe, fourth grade. She's this incredibly sweet, energetic little girl, and she ALWAYS has a smile on her face. She's only been learning English for a few months, so between the both of us, we usually communicate in smiles and giggling. But you'd be surprised how far that can take you!

This is a picture from downtown Gwangju, where I spend a lot of time. It's nice to go into the city and relax. Anyway, the fountain in the picture is a famous fountain in memorial of the May 15, 1980 uprising against the government. This is the only picture I managed to get without a car in front of the fountain. I just love that you can see the mountain in the background. My favorite thing about Korea is that no matter where you are, you feel like you're nestled in a little valley, a little more alone but a lot closer to nature. I'm feeling a little mountain-obsessed these days. Can you tell? I think I need to start seriously hiking again.

Finally, my room. The first is a picture of my chair and desk. It's very messy in this picture, and rest assured that I've since cleaned my room quite a bit. (I took this picture while I had a nasty cold and wasn't motivated to do much other than sleep). But if it wasn't a little messy, it wouldn't really be my room, right?

Here's my bed. My comfy, comfy bed. And my bookcase. Which now contains a copy of Le Petit Prince in both English and Korean! I'm hoping to improve my Korean skills a little with it. I also have a copy of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales with Korean definitions on the bottom, so that will help too.

This coming week is Chuseok, a major Korean holiday, so I'm off of work until next Thursday. It looks like I'll be spending lots of time with my host family and participating in traditional Korean Chuseok rituals, and I'm very much looking forward to that!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

"Oh No" was the first think I managed to teach the two-year-old in my family as well. I think he forgot it though too. I'm always torn between wanting to teach the kids English and wanting to practice my own German. It's a bit difficult. Your host family looks adorable though.

- Amanda