Thursday, February 19, 2009

Festival - Finally!

Ah, Festival is over. Whew. We made it.

Of course, the night before, I only got about 4 hours of sleep (I guess I was too excited for my directorial debut, haha) - so the intense, insane chaos that was Festival was made even more nutty by the invasion of about seven liters of caffiene in my bloodstream, haha.

But enough about me. The KIDS WERE AWESOME!!! They did such a good job with both the skit and the song, and looked amazingly adorable. I got to do a speech at the end about each of my kids, and couldn't say enough about how much my class rocks!
Prepare yourself for a tidal wave of cute:

Their first performance was with two other classes, ringing bells and beating drums to some song called "Entry of the Gladiators."

Waiting in the back like little almond Hershey's Kisses:

Doing their thing on stage:

After this, we had to get them changed for the Wizard of Oz skit - LCI was smart enough to have the parents dress them in white shirts and tights to facilitate the costume changes:

And here are my scarecrows, Andrew and Ryan:

My Tin, People, Jenny and Sun Q:

The Lions, Eileen and Andy (PS, Eileen has an absolute inability to have her eyes open and looking at the camera in any picture, ever):

And two Dorothys and a female Wizard, Laura, Evelyn, and Sally:

The whole gang, just before they went onstage:

After they did an incredible job on their skit, they had to quick-change for our song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. A note on these costumes: I intentionally picked the most ridiculous costumes I could find in the book, and was the only teacher who didn't have her costumes switched behind her back.

The directors apparently felt like some of the classes didn't have flashy enough outfits, and changed at least one class's darling costumes to what looked like a Pimps 'n' Hos party, complete with zebra fur hearts on the boys' bottoms and booty-shorts and fishnet hose for the girls. The teacher didn't know about the change until her kids were getting dressed before their song.

Anyways, I hope my boys can forgive me for this:

The final performance was just the kids in blue jeans singing a song in Korean about how much they love their parents (it's an adorable song that gets stuck in my head regularly, even though I don't know the words):

Sadly, I didn't get to stick around and meet my kids' parents, as I was ordered to return to school ASAP after the last song to cover afternoon classes... I have to say, I was disappointed to not have that opportunity. But I was still damn proud of my kids!

That night, Angie and I drug our exhausted butts to Gangnam to shop and eat Indian food and drink wine. We deserved it, after two months of chaos preparing for this one day. It's not the first time my job has stressed me out this much, and I'm sure it won't be the last, but my kiddies make it all seem worth it.

And in the Gangnam subway station, I found this shirt, and knew everything was going to be ok :)

Love you all!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm Awesome!

Today, I got back the weekly report from Andrew. His mom (the one who sent chocolate, so when I am "feeling distasteful, just eat chocolate and said 'Fine.'") has been asking me whether it's hard to teach children all day long, and has been making sure I'm ok. I've been trying to reassure her that the kids are good, and that her son seems to enjoy school as well.

Today she told me:

"I'm sure Andrew enjoys LCI. He says everyday that LCI is fun place to study, and lunch is very delicious at LCI. But whenever you tired of teaching children, just make punishment, and make children think you awesome!"

HA! I'm fairly certain I introduced the word "awesome" to her vocabulary (since I often use that adjective to describe her son and his progress), and I love the way she's incorporating it! Hooray for bonus English lessons!

Love you all!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beijing - Day 3 P.M (Pearl Market, Forbidden City, Wang fu xing Street)

Sorry - I realize it's been way more than a day between Beijing blogs - but I had to have my weekend!

Day 3's lunch was a buffet - still more delicious Chinese food! After lunch we went to the pearl market (opened up just for our tour group) to learn about cultivating pearls. We learned that all of the pearls at the Government-sanctioned pearl markets come from oysters harvested from Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace! Pretty cool origins for a pearl! We also learned the secret tricks for testing the authenticity of a pearl - swindlers and phonies beware!

The woman who was teaching us about pearls then selected an oyster from a large tank. She showed us that it had 6 rings, meaning it was 6 years old (like a tree!), and said they generally harvest oysters that are around 15-20 years old. Before she cracked it open to show us the jewelry inside, she had us guess how many pearls were in there. Immediately I thought "One. That's the way the cartoons show it - one beautiful pearl on a pretty pillow of oyster." But obviously that wasn't the answer, seeing as how she was having us guess.

Being a smartass, I said "Ooh! Maybe 22, then each of us on the tour can have one!" Well, lo and behold, when she opened it up, there were over 20 pearls inside.

And not nearly as pretty as the cartoons - but, for being such a good guesser, the woman popped two of the pearls right out of the oyster and gave them to me as a prize!!! I now own pearls taken straight out of an oyster that grew at the Summer Palace in Beijing!!

After the excitement of the pearl market, we were off to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was the home of all Chinese emperors from the early 1400's to around the 1920's... Which means it's only been open to the public for a little over 80 years.

We started at the North Gate:

The buildings inside were pretty incredible:

I'm really irritated with myself, because I can't remember the name of this Hall - but it was burned, and a rebuild was attempted, but it burned one more time, so they just left it as-is, and I thought it was a pretty amazing picture:

This is the main Throne Hall - I think it's called the Hall of Supreme Harmony...

Eventually (and feeling like you'd need two full days to see everything in the Forbidden City), we made it to the South Gate:

Outside of the South Gate you can see the dizzyingly high walls surrounding the City:

At the South Gate, we met David who was going to show us to Wang Fu Xing Street (a fairly famous snack and shopping street). After a bit of a walk, we saw what seemed like an endless line of red lanterns hanging above dozens of snack booths. I got pretty excited, because I've been pleasantly surprised with the street food here in Korea - then David warned us not to eat anything...

I couldn't figure out why, till we got closer:

Yep, those are starfish in the foreground. And I actually saw someone eating one.

Some delicious crab:

And they have all kinds of "food" on a stick -





Apparently, the only thing palatable was the cake:

And unfortunately, it was on the same menu as the Dog Meat Pot :)

After spending most of the evening on Wang Fu Xing, and trying some less exotic street food (candied hawthornes on a stick, eggy squid balls, sprout wraps, and kebab-esque sandwiches), we cabbed it back to the hotel and prepared for our massages. David had made the necessary phone calls to set up massages in our hotel room! I was looking forward to it...

Unfortunately, it was more of a shiatsu-style massage (which means a lot of hitting) and they didn't even have us strip down or anything. It was the kind of massage that I'm pretty sure I could have gotten from my little brother... but it was only about $40 for an hour and a half, plus foot massage. Afterwards, we were ready to call it a night and pass out.

Day 4 was basically a get-out-of-town day, and a get-home-and-rest-before-teaching-tomorrow day :) And it was much needed, after such a busy weekend!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my awesome vacation - especially because I won't be getting another one until July :( (except maybe a Tuesday in May.) I'll be doing a whole post of just random photos for the fun of it tomorrow - so you have one last thing to look forward to!

Love you all!