Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week 2 at Seomna and some fashion for good measure

Last Sunday I went to Seomna expecting to be teaching migrant men English (from 4-6 pm). Instead, I traveled, with three other new volunteers, to visit the migrant men's "dormitories." Around the perimeter of Daejeon are many many small industries. They rely on foreign migrant workers, and provide them with housing. The living situations were deplorable. We went around to many sites and met with men from Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Vietnam, Myanmar and China. Most of the men knew pretty decent Korean, but there was a newcomer from Vietnam who had only been in Korea for 3 days. He and I had the same blank look on our faces as the rapid Korean conversations were going on. I think we talked to the men about dental care, one man's employment problems with an uncooperative employer, and whether any of the men wanted to learn English (from me). I have to say I don't blame many of them for not being interested! They already work long hours, our center is very far from where they stay, and they are struggling enough with learning Korean! But, yesterday I ate Indian food with a man from Pakistan and he said he wanted to learn English because he might want to find a job in another county. In that case, English, not Korean, would be helpful. If this is a need that the center and the men are identifying, fine. I will do my part to help. All of the men were very welcoming and gracious. They energized me for the upcoming week (even though I didn't return from work Sunday night until after 10:30 pm).

This past week went smoothly enough at the children's center. I came prepared each day. Yes, I am now doing something that resembles lesson planning. We colored, identified letters, played lots and lots of hangman (they love it!), sang 10 Little Indians (politically incorrect), played crazy 8s, sounded out simple words. I tried to explain the difference in pronunciation between "sit" and "shit." We played soccer and ping pong. With the migrant women's arts class I made a decorative box (theirs were much prettier than mine).

All of the teachers and students have been great, despite the very considerable language barriers. I could successfully speak with a toddler there, who was speaking jibberish, a language with which I am very familiar. And I bring much humor when I try to sound out Korean words. A few of the little girls make me read books to them, then shriek with laughter at my pronunciation. I have been asked if Americans wear turbans, if we eat whales, and if we have yellow eyes. I have been asked my blood type, and my answer of "I don't know" was met with consternation. Becky explained later that Koreans sometimes think blood types determine personality traits.

On Saturdays from 3-5 Becky and I taught two English classes at Youngrak church. Since it is the first week for that, I am going to withhold judgement until later. We had a photo shoot with our Korean language class on Friday for the Korean Language institute. It was very funny and we took so many photos--acting like we were studying, chatting on the grass with friends, writing (I was actually playing hangman with my neighbor). We have people in our class from the US, China, Bangladesh, India, and Turkey, but they even brought in other students who weren't in our class to increase our diversity. Today I had many people at church tell me that they saw me in a commercial on TV! Haha I am famous!

AND, on Thursday, Haejung took me to a fashion show! The Hannam University College of Design was holding their annual fashion show to showcase the work of the seniors. It was very fun, complete with a runway and models. See below for some of my favorite pictures!


  1. They have humpback whale in Arizona, I always preferred Orca? Keep up the posts babe!