Friday, March 21, 2014

3rd KTO supporters welcome dinner & Kaboom show

The third season of the Korean Tourism Organization Performance Supporters kicked off last night with it's welcome dinner and a viewing of the variety show, Kaboom. This is my second season as a supporter, and I was once again blown away by the quality of food that we were treated to. The dinner this time was held at VIPS buffet in the Jongno area of Seoul. The variety and quality of food was more than what I tend to expect from mid prized buffets. During the dinner I saw some familiar faces from the events I attended last season, and I also had the opportunity to meet new supporters and talk about some of the events we are looking forward to this year.

After dinner we were asked to exit the dining area, and move to the fourth floor for the opening ceremony and start of the show. The lobby of the theater got a little bit packed with so many people arriving at the same exact time, but I guess this wouldn't be much of an issue during a regular night. Upon entering the theater we were given a gift bag from the KTO and shown to our seats. The opening ceremony consisted of an awards ceremony for the top supporters from the last season. I believe there were ten of them, and they each got to take a picture on the stage and where given a prize. I'm not sure as to what else the opening ceremony consisted of because it was conducted in Korean. I understand that Korean is the official language of the organization, but considering the majority of the attendees were foreigners I did feel like perhaps translating some of it would have made us feel more involved instead of just clapping and cheering whenever others did.

After the opening ceremony the show got started. I don't think this show is meant to have any type of specific story line or flow as the segments where all completely different from each other, and I wasn't able to figure out how they connected with each other. The variety show included a magician solo act, a magician act with two people that told the story of two lovers gone awry, a b-boy act consisting of members from the Morning of Owl crew, an act with three girls playing traditional Korean instruments, and my favorite, the closing act was I think five people wearing body suits that lit up and combined a pretty impressive choreography with a captivating light show. The show wrapped up with all performers coming on stage and taking a final vow.
Overall, I was confused by the direction this show was taking, but I was definitely blown away by the last performance and would go back for them alone.

The show theater and VIPS restaurant are in the same building, and can be easily reached from Exit 15 of Jongno 3ga subway station. Upon exiting continue straight and make the fourth left (at the busiest intersection). The theater is on the left hand side.

table setting at VIPS buffet

fried chicken, noodles, ribs.. yum yum

salad bar area

before the start of the show

Sunday, March 16, 2014

19 months

I'm back from vacation in Thailand and Cambodia, and the new school year is now into it's third week. This year is soooo soooo different from the last year and a half i've experienced in Korea. For starters, I now teach third graders as well as fourth, fifth, and sixth. Teaching third graders is completely new to me, and something I'm having a little bit of a hard time adjusting to. They're just now studying English for the first time, so their level is far lower than any other student I've had, and also, as is to be expected due to their age, they're incredibly chatty and energetic and a little bit hard to manage. Along with teaching a new grade, I also have three new co teachers, and a total of four co teachers altogether. Three of them I had never even had a conversation with even though they've been at my school since I started here, and then the fourth one is my sixth grade CT who has been with me since the beginning. My sixth grade CT and I have a pretty good routine down, so that hasn't been any different. The sixth graders this year are students that I've taught since I arrived in Seoul, half way through their fourth grade year. They're already really familiar with me and my teaching style, so far the terrible bad attitude that seems to plague most sixth graders hasn't kicked in yet, but then again it's still early. There are six fifth grade classes this year, four of them I teach with the designated fifth grade English teacher, and the other two I teach with one of the homeroom teachers who has taught English in the past. In the two classes with the homeroom teacher I'm pretty much in charge and she assists with translating a little bit, and some classroom management, but as far as the points and rewards system it's all my own and I'm really happy about that. Fourth and third grade I teach with a lady who was a homeroom teacher in the past and has never taught English before. She's having to adapt to not only working with a native teacher, but also to teaching English overall, so we haven't quite figured out a routine that we're completely comfortable with, but I she's also leaving for maternity leave in one month and I'll get a substitute teacher, so I'm not really sure how that's going to go, but we'll work it out.

The other thing that changed is where I eat lunch. In the past all students ate in their homerooms, and the subject teachers ate in a separate room near the principal's office. Towards the end of last year my school built a cafeteria and students ate there, but the subject teachers still ate in their own little room. This year however, everybody eats in the cafeteria. Students, homeroom teachers, and subject teachers alike. It's really noisy, and kids will be kids so every time they see me they say hello so I constantly have to stop mid bite and acknowledge them so as not to hurt their feelings. I definitely like that they like me enough to greet me, I think it would be strange if they chose to ignore me instead, but that's not to say I don't miss the quietness of the old lunch room.

Yesterday was the first warm-ish day of the year so I went to one of the parks along the river with a friend and we rode bikes for a couple of hours, and then walked around and got dinner. It was definitely refreshing to be able to go outdoors and not have to bundle up to the point where moving is uncomfortable, I'm looking forward to more good weather days before the dreaded humid summer hits.