It has been a while since I have talked about the work that I have been doing here, but that doesn't mean that my life has been ALL fun and games! I actually work 6 days a week now, and there have been some pretty big changes in what I do since the last time I posted. Let me catch you up to date:
I am still at Seomna Center five days a week (Sunday-Thursday). During the week, I have a revised teaching schedule, so I no longer teach ALL grade levels at the Center. The elementary students are so busy with drum lessons, dance lessons, homework tutoring, piano, violin, art therapy and tons of other activities, that I could never seem to fit in an English class with them (which is just fine with me, as I feel these other activities are more important for them!). Now, I focus my teaching energies on the middle school students, working with them before dinner primarily on reading and pronunciation. Today we sang "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles and "Country Roads" by John Denver. That's my kind of teaching. Once a week I also have first and second graders and I still do soccer with all the kids on Wednesdays. I also spend a lot of time playing (ping pong, legos, origami) and trying to find ways to be useful.
Three days a week I spend a significant amount of time at Seomna with the foreign immigrant women. We take Korean language classes for three hours a day, eat lunch together, take arts and crafts class, go on outings, and I also teach them English once a week. The women usually bring their young children to class, so I have made several new friends who are all under the age of two. I love this part of my life, even though it is definitely "being" and not really "helping" the center, as I have gained some glimpses into the lives of these women. They talk about returning to their homelands for visits with friends and family, and one woman from China hopes to be able, this year, to have her mother meet her one-year old baby. They talk about wanting to find employment, and a few women have gone on interviews, while one woman from Nepal was just hired by an office in the community. I will miss having her in class! We cheered when one woman from Cambodia announced she was pregnant. The women, many are from Vietnam, consult each other about child care and make jokes about being married to Korean men. This past week we even went to a Korean wedding together to watch a woman from Vietnam celebrate her wedding to a Korean man (they got married last year but didn't have a ceremony, so the Lion's Club sponsored a group wedding for 5 multicultural couples to have a nice ceremony at a wedding hall).
Our group with the married family in traditional Hanbok.
The couples lining up to walk down the aisle.
Mmmm wedding food.
Today we made pottery together at a local university. Some of the women were very talented and creative.
Two of my classmates hard at work on their pottery.
My good buddy at the center.
One day a week (Fridays) I now volunteer at Sanaru Community. The two aspects of this center that I am privy to are a feeding center for people experiencing homeless or homebound-ness, and an after-school center for youth in a poor neighborhood. I am still finding out how I can fit into this community, but they have been wonderful about letting me experience their work, even when I sometimes feel I am messing up their established routine. I help pack food boxes and deliver them to 8 homes in the neighborhood where people are homebound. I help serve food to about 180 homeless individuals who come there every night for dinner (a nearby Catholic church is in charge of lunch, and a nearby Lutheran church is in charge of breakfast). I also do A LOT of dishes, before heading upstairs to help out with an elementary school class, then lead two classes of my own, one for middle schoolers and one for high schoolers. We work on reading and conversational English in ways that I try to make fun and low-pressure. I like the chance to get to work with some older kids, and everyone has been so kind and welcoming of me.
On Sundays, I rotate with Becky, Katie, and Simon to lead the youth group at the Hannam University Church before heading to Seomna Center to accompany other volunteers as we visit foreign migrant men in the community. It's a very busy schedule, but I am enjoying it!