It’s official; I’m moving to 대구(Daegu) in two weeks! It’s the fourth largest city in South Korea with a population of over 2.5 million. So far, I have been told that Daegu is known for its apples and fashion/textile industry. Both of my Korean teachers also agreed that the men and women in Daegu are good looking! I will start teaching my conversational English class at Jukjun Middle School shortly after I move in. Jukjun is a co-ed school on the west side of the city. I’m ready to take on the challenge of keeping up with Korean middle schoolers, although I never thought I would be re-living middle school. I certainly didn’t think I would be doing it as an English teacher. Now that I’m thinking about it…I might need two cups of coffee on my way to school in the morning.
Here is a look at the current, ever-changing goal list for my grant year:
1. Form strong relationships with students, co-teachers, and host family
2. Find a meaningful volunteer organization to work with
3. Get involved with a Korean news/entertainment publication
4. Study/practice/learn more about Buddhism
5. Explore the city with my camera
6. Work on my Korean language skills
I can’t wait to get settled in and meet my co-teachers and students. One of the most exciting parts about moving to Daegu is that I’m moving there with some of my closest friends from the Fulbright program. Here is a picture of Kelsey, Donald, Thomas, and I after the nerve-wracking, formal placement ceremony. All of the Fulbright grantees received their placement locations and schools last Thursday. Kelsey and Donald (the two closest to me in this picture) will be teaching at schools in Daegu. Kelsey will be at an elementary school and Donald will be teaching at a high school in the city center. Thomas (right) will be teaching in a city about an hour away. He promises to come visit often! To give you an idea of how large Daegu is – Kelsey’s school is on the south side and mine is on the west side but our schools are still 40 minutes apart.
Here is a picture of my new favorite Korean discovery! It’s 막걸리 (Makgeolli) – a sweet, milky type of Korean alcohol. At this restaurant the Makgeolli is served in a big teapot and they give you tin bowls to drink out of. We mixed our Makgeolli with something that tastes like Sprite. It is DELICIOUS.
QUICK KOREAN LESSON: The word “delicious” in Korean is pronounced “Mah-she-soy-yo.”
Weekend Temple Stay – 24 Hours of Monastic Living
This weekend, 50 people from the program traveled half an hour away from our campus to stay at a temple and learn about Buddhism from monks and nuns. We spent our weekend practicing sitting, walking and eating meditation. We also attended several Buddhist ceremonies, learned how to bow correctly, and ate a traditional, silent monastic meal. On Saturday we woke up for a service at 3:30 in the morning! Here is a picture of Kelsey, Thomas, and I in front of the Dharma hall where most of the ceremonies are held.
Buddhist monks and nuns are referred to as Sunims. The Sunims I met this weekend were extremely warm, welcoming people. They were so gracious and excited to have us. I don’t think they realized how excited WE were to spend time with them. Here’s a picture of Sunim Chung Dong (he was SO sweet) during prayer-bead making. He gave me one of the rainbow strand of beads as a gift! Prayer-beads represent unity and interconnectedness. The temple stay was extremely refreshing, relaxing, and meaningful. I hope to do at least one more temple stay sometime this year.
Something to consider:
This weekend, when the Sunims referred to “the mind” they put their hand over their chest instead of pointing to their head.
If anyone has tips on how to keep up with middle school children…send them my way! Thank you for reading!