For starters, we're all healthy. The kids seem plagued with little complaints about this and that, but I honestly wonder if they really just don't know what else to say sometimes. Now, in all fairness, they do have the right to complain about some sore muscles these days. They've been attending Taekwondo classes and have had muscles stretched, strained and worked in ways they aren't used to. I just dropped them off at their 4th class, and it's the first time that Barry or I haven't stayed. Therefore, tonight, for the first time in a long time, our kids will have a story or two tell that didn't include us. This may not sound like much, but when you spend ALL your time with your nuclear family, you start running out of things to talk about. I look forward to our dinner chat tonight. Barry's teaching till 9, so the kids will get to tell their tales twice, which I'm sure they'll enjoy.
Our kids could also complain about their sore bums from our little bike ride on Saturday. We went to the river and rented bikes. Seoul, and a good part of of the Korean countryside, has paved bike paths that run for hundreds of kilometres. We only did about 10k, but it was good to get out and have a new experience here. The weather was perfectly spring-like with the sun shining and warming us. We got to see parts of the city we've only driven past before and gain more perspective on this metropolis. The kids seem to enjoy themselves even though Molly swears she still hates cycling. After our ride, Barry and George went and purchased a bike for George and me. We're the same height now (yes, I admit it), so we'll share for now. If we want to go as a family again, we can easily rent. Barry's mission this week is to get himself a bike too. It'll be a good way to see the city and get some personal time.
Tonight I had an interesting experience. For the first time in another long time, someone who knew me stopped to say hi on the street. Again, it may not sound like much, but it was monumental to me. A ten year old girl, with very limited English skills waved at me as she approached on her bike and mumbled something about Taekwondo, English and Molly. She was on her way to class with George and Molly and wanted to say hi. The last time someone in my neighbourhood said hi to me was in August in Haliburton...then something miraculous happened...another girl said hi to me. I almost hugged her.
Sunday was a good day here. One might suggest it was the power of the rebirth of Easter day - perhaps they are right. Sunday was the day Barry and I felt we turned a bit of a corner here. In the morning we had a fun egg hunt with yummy Belgian treats that I had to search hard for a week earlier. Keeping traditions up for our kids is a big deal. Huge in fact. The kids had fun and appreciated all the goodies. Next we went to church. It was a good service - the preacher is talented, and Molly had fun painting eggs, faces and frolicking with other kids her age. I would have liked to have watched her, but I was busy enjoying myself in an adult environment. At the end of each service, the preacher asks anyone who is new to identify themselves. Only 4 Sundays ago, our family stood. Yesterday a young woman stood behind us. After the service, it was me, a long time attendee of the church, who chatted with her to make her feel welcome. It turns out she's from Ontario. How quickly the tables can turn from being the outsider to being the one showing someone else where the coffee is. It was a nice feeling.
I've been to Yeomyung High School three Fridays in a row now. I'm happy to report my small class is rather fun. The students are aged 18-25. They're bright, ambitious, curious and fairly enthusiastic. One young man could use a little fire under his seat, but other than that, they're enjoyable people to spend time with. Hopefully the Conversation Club will provide them with an opportunity to work on the language they already know and learn a little more. Confidence is a big issue, and many of them lack it. The small group setting helps to motivate them, I think. Some of these kids have only been in South Korea a few months, whereas some have been here for years. One of my biggest challenges in teaching is avoiding topics that could present challenges in the classroom. For instance, I can't ask them much about their past. Some of these students have seen horrific things, they've lived rather abnormal lives, lost family members, been persecuted and suffered in ways I can't comprehend and they don't wish to share with their peers. My goal is to discuss the future with them, not the past.
Homeschooling continues rather well these days. The kids are more used to the routine, though they still dislike the isolation - Molly more so than George. Everyday they have English and Korean, and other days they have math, art, history, geography, zoology and critical reading. They are making progress. Online I've found a small network of homeschoolers in Korea, but the only ones who have kids of similar age so far, live in another city. Hopefully the FaceBook page will turn up some other families in the near future.
We continue to take some art classes around the city. Last Friday the kids and I learned about Dan-Chun, the brilliantly coloured painting that is used on Buddhist temples and palaces in Korea. After a short lecture that bored the kids to tears, we each painted a small wooden piece using authentic temple paint made of crushed stones to create various pigments. The kids ended up making two pieces each, while I slowly worked on one. In the end they all looked rather nice. The instructor turned them into key chains, necklaces and hair pins for us before we hit Subway near the US army base for lunch. I can't imagine we'll become professional temple painters, but it was nice to learn something new and have a pleasant experience with other foreigners.
So, all in all, we're making progress on our work lives, social lives and education. Hopefully the positive momentum continues in the week ahead.
Happy belated Easter to all.
Here are some photos from our last week.