Monday, December 20, 2010

  This will be a different Christmas for me.  I remember Christmas as being with family, playing hockey on ice or a road, finding and decorating the perfect Christmas tree, being reminded of what Christmas is all about, an extra church service or two, and generally lots of love.  But this year it will be different.  The biggest difference of course is that I'm not with my family, and that does make me sad.  I have not been a stranger to homesickness while I've been here.
  But different doesn't have to be bad.  On Christmas day, I will be flying to Vietnam, and that's exciting.  I'll be going with Natasha and her family, which is great for me because they've done all of the planning; I just get to enjoy it.  I've heard good reports from others who've travelled to Vietnam, so I am definitely looking forward to it.  It's not every day you get to see a whole new country and culture.  As of now, I don't know the first thing about Vietnam, but I hope to remedy that by researching before the trip and by learning all I can while I'm there.
  Since I'll be gone next week, I won't be writing my blog - but I promise to bring back a long report and lots of pictures.

  On another note, I promised to talk a little more about crime in Korea.  One of the first things I learned when I came here is how little crime there is here.  And I've come to see that it's true.  On many occasions I've walked by a vehicle parked on the side of the road with the engine running and no one in sight.  Also, police play a much smaller role in Korean society than in North America.  The only time I see police officers is when they are conducting drunk driving checks, or at the buffet down the street from the school.  I don't really know, but I think the low crime rate is largely due to the role that Confusion values and the importance of respect has on Korean society, historically and still today.  These values are seen in many other areas of Korean culture as well, and I'd say they are a major difference between Korean and North American cultures.  But that doesn't mean crime doesn't exist.  I miss that scooter.

Finally, here is a picture of my new roomate.  He's pretty quiet and not too bothersome.
He might be a guppy.  He looks like a goldfish with a long tail.  I think his name will be Sharky.
Thank you for reading.
Have a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I've wanted to write about Korean food for a while, but I haven't felt like I've known enough about it.  I still don't think I have a firm grasp on what makes Korean food Korean, but it's about time I write a little bit about it.  Definitely the most Korean of all foods is Kimchi.  Kimchi is pickled vegetables, usually cabbage, and it is served with every Korean meal that is eaten (and ever has been - unless there is a cabbage shortage - which actually did happen this year apparently - I'm not sure how they're dealing).  My opinion of kimchi varies.  I don't mind it sometimes, but usually I'm not a big fan.  What I do like is the pickled radishes they serve here (which I guess would be called Kimchi under the broader meaning).  Radishes here in Korea are big and white.  But mentioning these foods brings up the most distinct part of Korean meals - the sides.  Korean meals are always served with a number of side dishes.  These can include kimchi (always), radishes, bean sprouts, something green - similar to spinach, tiny-little see-though fish, carrots, something smothered in hot chilly powder, and this small brown potatoe-bug-like insect served raw.  While these sides can be interesting to taste, I've come to mostly avoid them - which isn't good because they are usually the only vegetable options.
  I've found that Korean main dishes typically include or are largely some kind of meat - either beef, pork, or chicken.  Here is a list of some of them that I've eaten:
- Galbi: small pork or beef slices that are the best when they're marinated.  You cook them on a grill in the middle of the table.
- Samgyeopsal: thick slices of bacon fried on a grill in middle of the table with vegetables around it.
- Duck: which I've had fried like galbi or in a saucy mixture with other things.
- Galbitang: brothy soup with noodles and beef.
- Samgyetang: A thicker soup made with ginseng and a whole, small, chicken stuffed with rice.
- Bibimbap: one vegitarian main dish I've had.  It is rice with all kinds of seasoned vegetables and an egg - mixed all together.
- Naengmyeon: cold flavoured noodle soup.  We eat it will galbi.
- Cheesy Rice: which is surely not the actual name. It is rice with a spicy sauce, chicken chunks, duk (rice cakes {see entry titled 'Chuseok'}), and melted cheese all mixed together and fried on a grill in the middle of the table.
- Gimbap: which is usually more of a snack.  It is the Korean form of sushi except replacing the fish is carrot, ham, radish, and cucumber.
  These are only the main meals that I've eaten and enjoyed, there are many more Korean dishes that I either haven't tried yet, or have eaten and have forgotten the name of, or didn't like.
  Korean food is often somewhat spicy, which has taken me some getting used to.  Red chillies are very popular here.  Chilly powder is in over half of all foods, I'd say, and if it's not a powder its made into a paste (which I very much dislike).
  Outside of the Korean restaurants there are lots of non-Korean food places.  Italian food is pretty popular here (well, mostly pizza and spaghetti), and there are some burger joints.  Fast food is available here, but it hasn't flourished like it has in North America.
  Overall, I'm quite sure Koreans go out to eat quite a bit more than most North Americans.  I chalk this up to the facts that eating at restaurants is very inexpensive, and many apartments don't have kitchens adequate enough to make daily, healthy meals.

  On another quick note, this weekend I played monopoly at this super cool place called Play Cafe.  It's become another of my favourite places in Pohang.  Oh, and I won the monopoly game - which might have been the only time I've ever done that.  Pretty sweet.
  And on a very crappy note, the scooter was stolen.  I'm pretty POed about it.  Later I'll write about crime in Korea.  For now, I'm thinking about when I'll buy another.
  I wish I had pictures to add, but I don't.  I'll try to get on that.
Thanks for reading,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Skating, Falling Down Hills, and Korean Tensions

I had a wintry weekend.  On Saturday I went skating with a good sized group at the arena.  There were a lot more people on the ice than the first time we went, and I liked that.  It reminded me of skating with my family at Nathan Phillip Square a little, though it wasn't that crowded.  Speed skating is a big thing here.  Both times I've gone, the middle of the arena has been designated for speed skating practice where these little tykes whiz around and practice their form.  I think a number of my students either speed skate or play hockey.  I'd like to watch them some time.

Then, yesterday, I went snow boarding.  First of all, it only cost me 55,000 won for the whole day, including transportation and rentals, so that was pretty sweet.  But we had to get up at 5 am, which wasn't so sweet.  Then we sat on an overheated bus for 3 hours which wasn't the best part of the trip either. (Disclaimer about Korean buses: they all have a TV in the front where a wide variety of Korean shows are displayed without any regard to time of day - including gruesome war movies, gross horror movies,  loud Korean celebrity shows, and something like Korean idol.  I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it.)  But we got there and were a little disappointed to find out that only 2 of the runs were open - which is understandable given that there isn't any snow and the temperature is well above 0 every day.  It turned out to be OK though, since I was snowboarding - a skill I certainly haven't mastered yet.  And though I did improve my snowboarding talent, I also spent a lot of the time rolling, bumping, or sliding down the hill.  I've discovered that often times I develop skills (at least athletic skills) by pushing myself as far as I can go and then finding out a way to deal with it.  In the case of snowboarding, this means that I just can't help but go as fast as I can down the hill, much of the time just on the edge of control, and many times going over that edge.  So I had some pretty bad falls.  I lost my glasses twice before I thought better about wearing them.  And I think I caught a couple people smirking at me afterwards, possibly wondering if I enjoy tumbling down hills.  I am sore today, all over.  But I had a great time.  It wasn't busy at all, so we didn't have to wait in lines at the lifts, and I could tumble freely without worrying about taking anyone down with me.  It was a wonderful sunny day and the company was great. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera to give you visuals.

On another note, there has been increasing tensions between North and South Korea recently.  And while it is surely concerning to everyone here, Koreans in particular, it has been hard for me to really get an idea of how the Koreans around me feel about it.  One guy that I met yesterday, who is from Pohang, said that he is pretty sure there's no real danger of a full blown war starting.  I didn't ask him why he thought that, but I'm of the opinion that most South Koreans would hate for it to come to war.  I'm not sure what to think about it.  My kindergartners were pretty angry about it.  Larry even suggested reusing our trash as projectiles to throw at the North Koreans - we've been learning about reducing, reusing, and recycling in science, so I was pretty impressed with his creativity.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe and Thanksgiving

I have found my favourite indoor place in Pohang (My favourite outdoor place is Sunrise Park, which I've only been to once).  The place is a coffee shop called Edgar Allan Poe.  It was one of the first places Natasha pointed out to me when I got here, but she had never gone in.  So finally, this past Wednesday, we decided to see what it was like.  First of all, it's super cozy.  It's very nicely decorated and comfortable.  There's even a tree right in the middle of it - which is wierd because it's on the second floor of the building, so either the building was built around it, or somehow they got this tree, with all the branches in tact, up to the second floor.   Anyway, it is owned by a really nice woman who doesn't speak much English but doesn't mind chattering away in Korean to us.  I'm not sure, but it seems as though she lives there with her daughter, which might explain why if feels so cozy.  But using her limited English, and our more limited Korean, we learned a little about her and were able to order.  And that brings me to the best part - the hot chocolate.  It's made with milk, so it tastes so much better than the regular powder stuff from the grocery store, and it reminds me of being a kid.  I brought Tim Tams the second time we went, and the Tim Tams with the hot chocolate is probably best thing ever.  But it doesn't stop there. Then, in the background the whole time was a really good music playlist of lots of random, fun English songs including Boney M (who, if you haven't heard about, you should listen to).  So that was a cool surprise.  Lastly, the bathroom was one of the nicest I've been in, which is always a sign of a good place.

American Thanksgiving was this past Thursday (Happy Thanksgiving), and I was able to celebrate it a couple of times.  On Thrusday night, Tilt, the local foreigner bar, made a big Thanksgiving dinner and there were lots of people.  I've never been a huge turkey fan but this Thursday the turkey never tasted better.  Then on Saturday, Ryan, another foreign teacher, had a potluck party at his appartment.  Again, there was quite a large turnout of people - which is always fun, and Ryans apartment is large compared to any I've seen here, so we all fit somewhat comfortably.  And the food was good.  I think these were the first times I've eaten North American food since I've been here.  I like a lot of Korean foods, but it was really nice to eat familiar food again.

I'm writing this blog at school for the first time because tonight Tilt is showing the Grey Cup - woot woot.  So I'll be there.  And a bad cold has hit me today, so I want to maybe get a nap beforehand.

Lastly, today our school got a new set of teachers.  We are starting up a new pre-pre-school class so we needed a new English speaking teacher and a new Korean teacher.  They both arrived today.  Sophie is the English speaking teacher and she also speaks Korean because she is also replacing Alan, who was our translator.  Then Dolly is the new Korean teacher and she spent a year in Toronto, which is pretty cool.

So things are good here.
Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Korea is interesting

Korea is interesting.  The country itself is definitely at a different place developmentally than Canada or the U.S.  According to The World Factbook, South Korea has only had an elected president since 1993 and this came after 35 years of Japanese rule, 3 years of war, and 32 years of military rule.  Also, before the 1960s South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, and then their economy took off.  So in many ways, this is a very new country - certainly one that has gone through dramatic changes in the past 100 years. 
But while Korea is a developed, modern society, there are some areas that seemingly haven't caught up yet.  One area is the role of women.  I haven't really researched this topic at all, but from observation there is a clear distinction between the opportunities that men and women have in Korean society.  As I understand it, there's quite a bit of pressure on women to get married.  In this case, it is largely the woman who stays home and the man who supports the family.  A married woman is called an 'ajuma' and they have quite a reputation here (at least among foreigners).  This might be an exageration but they all tend to look much the same - short, with permed hair and a visor on (see picture).  Though I'm not very familiar with the ajuma lifestyle, these women do tend to be seen doing much the same things - working in the garden, selling fish at Jukto market, glaring at people on the bus, and generally being in charge of everything around them.
Also, from my observations, if a woman does not get married, they are then expected to support their father and/or brother.  All my claims are only based on a small amount of observation, and I'm quite sure that women's independance in Korea is changing quite a bit, but it is interesting.
Another Korean trend that seems to be due to Korea's rapid development and change is the value placed on things that are new - especially apartment buildings (it seems to me).  I've heard that Koreans start to consider an apartment building as old after 5 - 10 years.  So then they move to a newer apartment building.  And the fact that there are maybe 4 new apartment complexes being built within a 20 minute walk of my house seems to support this.  I've heard others say that in this way, and many others, Koreans seem to be stuck in the 70s and 80s.  (I wasn't born then so I can't give an opinion on the matter).  But there certainly doesn't seem to be any value placed on old, cultured, historical buildings as there is in North America.  It's interesting.

Here's a picture (that I didn't take) of some ajumas:

Thanks for reading,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Paintballing and Kindergarten Broadway

I went paintballing this past weekend.  It was my first time and I wasn't dissapointed.  There was a pretty large group of foreign teachers who met at the train station and took a bus to place a little outside Pohang.  I didn't know what to expect really but I was pretty excited once we  got there, saw the playing area, and got our gear on.  There's something (not a healthy something) about holding a gun in your hands.   We devided into two teams and played two games of the-last-team-standing-wins, and two games of capture the flag.  Then we played the-last-man-standing-wins.  I certainly wasn't the best paintballer out there, but didn't do too bad I don't think.  There's definitely strategy involved.  At the end we did standoffs where two people stand back to back, then walk a number of paces, turn and shoot.  I thought that was pretty fun because you're at the mercy of the other person's aim.  Then we jumped in the bus and headed back.  I'm looking forward to the spring when they'll organize another trip.

School has been good lately; there hasn't been anything to complain about - which, I feel, can be pretty easy in the teaching profession (probably most professions).  Our school is going to have a Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve.  It will include a play and a Christmas song performed by every morning class.  We're predicting it's going to be a long night.  But I'm excited for it.  My co-teacher already has been taking any free time we have to practice our play.  And this is not going to be your usual kindergarten production.  We're doing a full musical, complete with dances.  It will be sure to rival Broadway.  And I'll be sure to get some of it on video.

Also, I've bought a winter coat.  I'm excited about it because it's getting cold outside, and maybe I'm becoming wimpy but I just don't like being cold.

Finally, I'm planning on changing my blog night to Monday.  I think this will work better for me.  So expect the next one to be this Monday, assuming that I remember.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, November 12, 2010

I went to the city of Andong this past weekend with six other foreign teachers.  It was a good trip.  Let me tell you about it...  The bus ride there might have been the best part for me.  It's not too far away, but it took us a while to get there because the road winds through the mountains.  One thing that was so great about the drive was that the trees have just started to change colour.  But also, all along the road there were farms and lots and lots of orchards - mostly apple - with people harvesting in them.  It was really cool to get an idea of what rural Korea is like - I think it must be a lot different than urban Korea.  The farmers we past seemed to live hard working peaceful lives.  It was a very pastoral scene.
In Andong, we first went to the Folk Museum.  This museum was about Korean traditions and living.  I really like museums because there's a ton of information and stuff to be learned, but, unless you're by yourself, I find it hard to spend the time and read everything in a museum enough to remember it afterwards.  That was the case here as well.  But the best part about being there was an old man who did Chinese calligraphy.  He had a lot of different phrases/sayings to choose from and then he'd paint/calligraph it onto a piece of paper, or for 15,000 won, onto a nice scroll type thing.  I bought the scroll.  My scroll says, "To teach others is to teach yourself".  I thought that was pretty great.
After the Folk Museum we took a bus to Hahoe Village, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site (I don't know anything about UNESCO but it sounds cool right?).  It was cool.  It's this old village that is built in the style of Korean architecture during the Joseon Dynasty.  I think many of the buildings have been preserved from this time period, but I don't know for sure.  I know that Confucian ideals were a major part of this time period and outside Hahoe village is Confucian school that we didn't get to see.  But the village was pretty neat.  It was like a living museum because all the houses are this old style and you can walk through the narrow walled streets as if you lived there, which isn't hard to imagine because there are actually people living in the village.  Beside these old looking houses are Honda Accords and modern cars - which was an interesting juxtaposition.  And all through the viallge there was this great smell of supper being made.  My favourite part of the village was a 600 year old treee.  It's traditionally believed to be the residence of the goddess of pregnancy, but I just thought the tree was cool.
And then we went home.
And I also had the chance to go skating this weekend!  That was pretty great.  There's an ice arena not too far from my apartment and they rent skates - dull skates, but they're skates. I'll be doing it again I'm sure.
Here are some pictures from the trip.  The rest will be on facebook.


I post this picture becuase I'm wearing this sweet Korean sweater that I bought, and my new glasses.

The 600 year old tree.

One of the houses in Hahoe Village.

Part of the farmland surrounding Hahoe Village, with some sweet mountains in the background.

An example of me being artsy fartsy.
My scroll
Thanks for reading,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Starting Up Month Number Four

I took my cast off.  It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be though.  I thought that if I would just soak it in water for a while the cast would become soft and flexible, but that didn't happen.  So it took quite a while until I was able to cut my way through it with a scissors and a knife.  I was surprised by how ugly my thumb looks.  It's still a little bit puffy and my nail is all black and gross.  But I'm happy that the cast is off.  I took it off because I didn't think it was helping any more, and I was tired of not being able to use my hand.  I think using my hand helps my thumb heal quicker anyway.

I also bought new glasses.  I've been loosing quite a few things during the time I've been in Korea, and one of those things was my glasses.  But buying new glasses here in Korea is really cheap.  The eye test and the glasses cost 6,000 won ($60) total; which is a quarter of the cost of buying glasses in North America.

School continues to go relatively smoothly.  It has it's goods and bads.  I enjoy my morning Kindergarten class more than my afternoon Elementary classes.  I'm learning that parent complaints will always be an issue.  But really, when I think about it, I'm in a pretty great situation here.  The kids are mostly great, there isn't a lot of stress involved, and I'm in a completely new part of the world.  I just have to keep reminding myself of this fact because it has been easy to forget.
Halloween was fun.  Every kid dressed up in store bought costumes and we had a party, which included a model-type runway walk where everyone had a chance to strut their stuff.  Then tomorrow we have a sports day, which I'm excited about.

I'm playing a lot of soccer lately.  We have our weekend games, our Tuesday Futsal practices, and then tonight we had another pick-up Futsal game.  It's always fun.  But it's late now, so I'm going to say goodnight.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Halloween

Thursday's sort of sneak up on me, and I'm not usually prepared, so then I end up winging my blog, and it probably comes out somewhat odd.  Well this one's no different.

It's Halloween tomorrow, which seems to be a holiday that is just being noticed here in Korea.  There aren't all the crazy decorations all over like there are in Canada.  But our school is going to have a Halloween party tomorrow, and everyone is dressing up.  I'm pretty excited.  I'm going to be a pirate - old and reliable.  And hopefully I'll find a way to scare my kids a little.
I've never been a big Halloween fan, but my favourite Halloween was in Harambee house in Grand Rapids.  I had an awesome time scaring neighbourhood kids that year.

The weather has gotten steadily colder.  It's still somewhat warm during the day, but there's a dramatic temperature drop every night.  I really like this time of year - when you can almost smell the winter in the air, and you have to add extra blankets to your bed.

My thumb is healing quite well as far as I can tell.  I'm starting to resent my cast more and more.  It smells pretty bad in there.  I don't think it'll last the weekend.

We have a new teacher at Poly, and it's neat to see how the staff dynamics change with a new member.  She seems really cool.

School is going well.  I'm continually struck by the unreal expectations that are placed on students here - at least the ones I know.  Our pre-school students are just 3 years old and they are expected to sit at a table for 40 minute at a time and learn how to read and write their second language.  I think that's pretty crazy.  But it's somewhat hard to argue with the results.  My kindergarten kids can read and write at between a 2nd and 3rd grade level and we have discussions in science that I've never had before.  So it's pretty interesting.

Here are some pictures of past events just to spice this blog up:

This was taken a couple of weekends ago on the hike we took up a mountain near Deagu.  I think it's a funny picture.

 This is Tim (a co-teacher) and I just before we raced.  I post this because this is the scooter that I've been driving around on, and I'm probably going to buy it from Natasha at some point - which is sweet.
 Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Being a gimp and school difficulties

  Thumb update: I now have a real cast on my arm.  It's a nice green colour, and I'm happy about it mostly.  But it makes me wonder if putting any part of a person's body in absolute confinement for any reason is a good idea.  I feel somewhat claustrophobic with it on.  I'd really like to bend my wrist and thumb.  But I'm not letting it affect things too much.  I'm getting pretty good at writing with a marker or pencil between my pointer finger and middle finger.  And I'm impressed by how well I've learned to use chop sticks with my left hand.  Also, I'm planning on playing in the soccer game this weekend.  So life goes on.  The doctor said it could take 2 or 3 weeks until the cast can come off, but they want me to get x-rays once a week to check on it (and I think because they are payed every time they have a patient come in).
  The situation at school hasn't been the smoothest lately.  The parents of our students do pay quite a bit for their students to go to Poly school and this means that they are very invested in their child's education.  This has it's positives, but it also have it's negatives.  Some parents aren't afraid to mention any concerns they might have to the school, which is ok, but in my opionion our directors try to please the parents a little too much.  The result is that the teachers are brought in for meetings with the directors every once in a while to bring up these concerns and many times these concerns contradict concerns that another parent brought up at an earlier time so that we as teachers are being told to do two opposing things.  There are other difficulties related to this, but this is one example of some of the stresses of the job.

  Things continue to go well overall though.  I need to make sure I keep remembering that being in Korea is a great opportunity for me to learn a lot, so I should keep on open mind.  Here's a picture of my cast and some pictures of the Pohang Steelers game we went to this past weekend.  It was fun.

A Korean co-teacher wrote something in Korean that means get better soon.

This is right before Pohang scored on a penalty shot.  We tied 2-2.  We were sitting in the loud section where the fans had drums and sang these cool-sounding songs and chants.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My thumb - it's broken

I broke my thumb.  The crack isn't all the way through so I think it's actually called a fracture.  It's hard for me to tell the story of how it happened because it's embarrassing, but here it goes:  So, on the way home from school we walk through an apartment complex that sometimes has donation stuff out near the road.  This is where I got my dresser.  On Monday we walked past this place and saw a pretty nice bookshelf.  We stopped to investigate and I also discovered a pair of rollerblades.  Now, I haven't been able to rollerblade since I've gotten here because I don't have mine with me, so I was pretty excited when I saw these.  I tried them on and of course they didn't fit (it's hard to find shoes here that fit most average North American men), but I could squeeze my feet in them.  I decided to rollerblade home for fun.  But then there was also the bookshelf.  I decided that since the bookshelf wasn't too heavy, and since I'm Canadian and awesome at rollerblading, I would just carry the bookshelf home on my rollerblades.  That's what I did.  And it was going great until I started to get quite a bit too confident and maybe forgot that I had a bookshelf in my hands and I wanted to practice my backwards skating.  In the end I hit a manhole cover, fell backwards and somehow had the bookshelf land on my thumb.
  I now have a temporary splint on and it doesn't hurt all that much anymore.  I was also given these little plastic packages with 4 multicoloured pills inside and told to take one package after each meal - that's 12 pills a day... crazy eh?  But apparently that's how they do it in Korea.  Others tell me that they get similar pill packages whenever they go to the hospital for something like a common cold.  And I don't even know what the pills do, they're just supposed to help.
  So that's my thumb.

  Today I had my first parent observation.  This meant that I had all my kindergarten's parents come into our class for two lessons and watch us.  It's sort of a big deal here because the parent's attitude towards Poly school, most of the time, is of the highest importance.  It's so important that it seems that these parent observations have, over time, evolved to student performances that your class practices for.  So I was nervous, my co-teacher was nervous, and the directors always seem a little bit nervous.  But I thought it went well, and more importantly my co-teacher thought so too.  It's nice to be finished with it.  Tomorrow we're going on a field trip to some botanical gardens; so that'll be good.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thoughts on not being new, loosing my Enlish, batting cages, and GyeongJu

I'm not the new guy any more.  Teagan, a new teacher from Philadelphia came this weekend.  He lives just below me and he's going to make a good addition to the school.  But it's taking a bit of a mental shift on my part to understand that I'm not the new guy any more.  Tonight I took him to "HomePlus" (the big grocery/everything store), and I realize that it wasn't too long ago that I was in his shoes.  I enjoyed being the new guy.  I could get away with being ignorant.  But now it's been 2 months, and though that wouldn't seem all that long before I came, for some reason it's a great deal of time here.  But anyway, change happens, and that's good.  We're actually loosing Alan teacher in a couple of weeks.  Alan is Korean-American, and he speaks both English and Korean.  He's been very helpful and wonderful to have as a friend.  He's also a good guy.  So it'll be sad to see him go.  But that will bring another teacher in his place, and that's exciting.

An interesting change in myself that I've noticed is my fluxuating English skills.  Now, you would think that being an English teacher would have a positive affect on my understanding of my native language.  While that is true to some degree - there are a lot of English grammar rules I'm learning, that I'd never thought about - in other ways my English abilities have also plunged dramatically.  I was a bad speller to start with, but ever since being in Korea I've become downright terrible.  I'm continuously questioning how to spell words, and it's not uncommon for me to tell my students how a word is spelt when I'm quite sure that I've spelt it wrong.  I've even had to rely on my Korean teacher to tell help me out at times.  Pretty bad eh?

On another note, a recent Pohanic discovery for me has been a sweet-awesome batting cage on the roof of the downtown arcade.  I'm not a big baseball guy but having the chance to take full swings at baseballs is pretty liberating.  It reminds me of my younger days playing pitch-and-hit with Peter.  I've never actually been to a batting cage before, but I've always assumed that the balls are always delivered at the same speed to the same spot.  That's not true for this place; you never know where the balls going to be, which I like.  So I'm excited to potentially make going to the batting cage a weekly routine.

This past weekend, Dan, Sheila, Natasha and I went to Gyeong-Ju.  Gyeong-Ju is the ancient capital of the Silla dynasty (57 BC - 935 AD according to wikipedia).  There's lots to see there so we'll have to go back to see it all.  One place we did see was the Numuli park.  It's a park with all these ancient burial mounds (Numuli) of Silla kings and leaders (see previous blog for Korean burial practices).  It was really cool to walk through a park with these large mounds all over the place.  We all thought it would be an awesome park to actually play in and go sledding in during the winter.  Unfortunately there are ancient kings buried underneath you and it would be somewhat disrespectful to use their grave sites as sledding slopes.  Also, I ate my first persimmon there.  We snatched a couple off a tree (which was probably also disrespectfully but they're pretty great).
We also went to the Bulguksa Temple which is the site of a very old Buddhist temple.  The temple has been largely rebuilt I think, but I always enjoy being in place that has a long history.  Here are some pictures:

So these aren't small unnoticeable mounds.  It's amazing to think about how much work it must have taken to make all of them.  They're mostly all rock.

Sweet eh?

This pond was outside Bulguksa.  In it were the largest Koi fish I've ever seen.

A very old pagoda. I don't know the posing couple.

Outside one of the temples is this spot with all these flat rocks where people have made a bunch of tiny rock cairns.  I made one too.

Who said Koreans have no creativity?
I didn't get any pictures of the temple buildings because there were a lot of people and they requested that you not take pictures of the inside of the buildings.  But this is a picture of the intricate wood work of the roofs.  It's crazy to think that people built and painted these roofs.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Life has pretty much gotten back to 'normal' (if I've been here long enough to say that), after the Chuseok trip.  And not much has happened since my last posting, except these two things.
We had our second soccer game of the season on Sunday.  They scored two late goals and we lost the game, which was a bummer, but playing on the team has a been a highlight for me so far.  There's a good group of guys on the team, so it's good to get to know them.  And it's really good to be able to play soccer again.
The other thing is that I have a sweet awesome dresser for my room.  Just yesterday I was walking back from dinner with three others and we spotted this really nice dresser out by the trash.  We were a good 3 km from my apartment but we couldn't turn this down.  So we lugged it all the way back to my apartment, with a little bit of 'help' from a lone Korean man.  Today, we all had sore muscles, and I've got a nice dresser in my room.
Here's a picture of it, along with the afore mentioned Machu Picchu poster:

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


  Apologies for not keeping to my blog schedule, but it's for a good reason.  This week was Chuseok - the Korean harvest/equinox holiday when people visit their families and their ancestors grave sites.  (Aside: Korean graves are different than ones I'm used to.  People aren't buried in grave yards, it seems that they are buried in important places for them, or close to their home.  So when you drive down the highway you see sporadic grave sites in the hills.  And you know its a grave not because of a grave stone, but because of the small mound of earth over the grave).
  For me, Chuseok started on Monday when all the kids showed up to school wearing their Korean Hanbok, which is a really fancy, colourful, traditional clothing worn by both guys and girls.  I didn't have my camera, so I didn't get any pictures, but my kids looked awesome.  In the morning the whole school did some fun activities like making songpyeon - small rice cakes with red bean paste inside - and having a tug of war competition. 
  Our school had the rest of the week off, so Monday evening I took a bus to Seoul with Natasha and Luke and stayed with Brigette, a friend of Luke's, in her really small apartment.  Then, in the morning, the four of us met up with five other friends and we took a bus to a place about 2 hours south of Seoul. 
  Let me tell you about this place.  We stayed in a 'pension', a guest house (which was already cool because I haven't been in an actual house in a while).  And we were right on the side of a mountain and surrounded by countless, beautiful, cloud filled, forested mountains - I've decided it's my favourite place in Korea.  It was so nice to be outside the city in the trees and hills.
  Now, the main reason that we went to this place was because nearby was a spot where we could go paragliding - and there was a lot of excitement about this opportunity, as you can imagine.  But Tuesday was rainy which meant we couldn't go that afternoon.  So instead we stayed around the pension instead.  There they had this game called Nol-Ttwigi.  It's basically a shallow see-saw, but instead of sitting on either side, you stand and jump.  When you land you send your partner in the air, and when they land, you are sent up.  It takes some practice and good timing to do it well, but I thought it was great because of how simple it is.
  Then we cooked dinner outside, under a tent, amidst the pouring rain - it was pretty great.  We made Samgyeopsal, which is thick slabs of pork fried (or in this case BBQed) and then usually eaten wrapped in a lettuce leaf with other possible toppings like onion, garlic, bean paste, and of course kimchi.  I've had Samgyeopsal a number of times at restaurants (where they fry it up right in front of you), but this was the first time I've had a part in making it - it was a small part, but it was fun.  Then we played some cards and got to bed with the hopes that Wednesday would be paragliding weather.
  We wouldn't be disappointed.  Wednesday was cloudy and cool but rainless.  Yet, though some of us were anxious to get to paragliding as early as possible, our host - the really cool man who owned and ran the place with his wife - decided that first we needed to take part in making Duk, which is basically rice pounded into a paste.  So we all took a turn swinging the hammer at this glob of rice, which eventually, when flavoured with peanut powder, tasted pretty good.
  Then it was decided that we were going to take a trip through the mountain trails driving ATVs.  This turned out to be a great idea.  ATVs might not be the most environmentally friendly way of getting around, but they're pretty sweet, and it meant that we could go quite a ways and see more of the area.  And the mountains were awesome - the pictures don't do the beauty of it justice.
  Then, finally, when we got back, it was time to go paragliding.  Our wonderful host drove us down our mountain, to the small town, and up another mountain to the paragliding spot.  The view was fantastic and scary because in a short while we would be jumping into it.  We were to be tandom paragliding - partnered with one of two guides - so when we got there I was expecting a long explanation about safety and what to do and what not to do.  But this didn't really happen.  In a short 3 minutes we were told the two rules - run when the guide says run, and sit when he says sit - and then they were already strapping in Zander, the courageous one for going first, into the parachute, running down the short ledge as the parachute caught the wind and lifted, and sailing off into mid-air.  I was somewhat amazed by how simple jumping off a mountain could be.  One-by-one we went, waiting in between pairs as the guides drove themselves, the parachutes, and us back up the mountain to do it again with the next pair.  And I did it.  It was pretty awesome - but mostly it made me nauseous.  I don't know why, but I think the fact that I was out in the middle of nothing without control of what happened to me just didn't jive with my stomach.  And it didn't help that we did a spiral trick where you spin around in circles on the way down.  But I'm glad I did it.
  Afterwards, we packed up our stuff, drove to the town, had a much needed supper of Bibimbap (a warm rice, vegetables, egg mixture), and took the bus back to Seoul.
  On Thursday, Natasha and I spent the day walking around parts of Seoul, buying books at a sweet English book store, figuring out the Seoul Metro - which really is impressive, leaving the books that I bought on the Seoul Metro - which isn't impressive, visiting a cool museum on Korean palaces and royalty, meeting up with some of the others again, having dinner, and singing our throats sore at a Norebong.  We wondered about if we'd rather live in Seoul than Pohang, and though I liked how Seoul has so many more options than Pohang, so many more foreigners and foreign stores, and a really great subway system, I think I like Pohang better for its size, and because it's sort of starting to feel like home.  When we came back to Pohang in a bus yesterday, I noticed that I felt differently towards Pohang than I did when I first arrived.  I'm getting to know the city and I'm happy to be here.
  There are a lot of details about the trip that I didn't write about, and this is a bit more of a rambling blog than others.  But hopefully this gives you an idea of what my trip was like.  Here are some pictures (the rest will be on facebook), and a video of my paragliding adventure:

The view from our pension.

The nine of us near our pension

Rain supper

Zander and Lay playing Nol-Ttwigi

Pounding the Duk

Luke the Kiwi - who grew up on these things, and who made the whole trip possible for me.

ATVing through beautiful but funny smelling flowers on the side of mountain.

A panaramic of the view at the top of our mountain.

The view that we jumped into.

We're not all there, and those who are there didn't all jump.

Peter this picture is for you.  We were having breakfast in Seoul and across the street was a store selling sports jerseys and if you look close you can see a Montreal Canadians jersey. I was flabergasted to see a hockey jersey in Korea let alone a Canadians jersey.  And then the tree is a Ginko tree, which are everywhere in Seoul and and pretty common in Pohang.

The palace that we didn't actually go into because the line was too long. But instead we went to the museum next to it.

Royal Hanboks that are really awesome and I think a bit scary.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sun, Sickness, and a Bucket List

Today was a beautiful day.  The weather has gotten a little cooler, but it's still pretty warm, and today was completely sunny.  We're able to get out onto the roof of our school and so lieing up there in the sun was the highlight of my day.  Also, Natasha can juggle and we're practicing juggling together (when you switch balls/bean-bags).  So we did that on the roof as well and that was great.

Myself and quite a few others were pretty sick this week.  I had a doozer of a cold, but it's clearing up finally.  My cold didn't keep me from playing in a small soccer tournament this past weekend though (I'm quietly proud of myself for going despite my condition).  But I felt terrible the next day.

The Korean vacation of Chuseok is next week and we get every day except Monday off.  This is a big deal because it sounds like we don't get very many vacations.  I don't have the money to do anything big so my plan was to stay around here and get to know the area.  Then a friend let me know about a paragliding and river rafting trip that he might be going on and says there are extra spots available.  So I'd be pretty pumped if that happened.  I've never done either of those - and I really should sometime.  I've found that discussions about activities like these bring up people's well formed or not well formed 'bucket lists'.  It's got me thinking about weather I have one or not.  I never really had a clear bucket list before, but it's not a bad idea.  Having dreams and goals to aspire towards is a good thing.  So here are my initial ideas of things I'd like to do in the future:  1) While I'm in Asia, I'd like to travel to at least a couple different countries at some point - China probably being one of them, and then maybe the Philippines or Cambodia.  2) I'd like to go to Europe also at some point.  And there, watch a soccer game and visit a castle.  3) On my wall I have a poster of Machu Picchu in Peru and I've always told myself that I'll go there someday.  4) I'd like to climb as many mountains/hills that I can.  5) I'd like to work as an outdoor educator (again I guess).  6) I'd like to be able to fix a car (so keep trying to teach me Dad).  7) I'd like to own a garden and grow most of my food at some point.  8) I'd like to live out of a backpack for a good chunk of time.  9) And of course - own a scooter while I'm in Pohang.  I'm sure there is more that I'm not thinking of, but this is a start at least.

Here is a link to a video about Pohang.  Some of the places in the video are familiar to me.

And as I promised, here's a picture of my sweet awesome chair that I got from the side of the road.

It's a little more like a throne than a chair, I think.  And it's really comfortable.  I'm sitting on it right now actually; what a coincidence.
Thanks for reading,

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Down Side

I've been accused before of only seeing the bright side, and I think it's mostly true, and I'm glad it is.  But in this blog I want to write about the down side of being here in Korea, because things aren't all roses (not like my wallpaper).
Being an English teacher in Korea comes with it's drama.  There are plenty of horror stories of teachers who just don't get paid, or who are overworked and underpaid.  This isn't true at Poly school; we are paid on time every month (actually today was pay day), and in my opinion, we certainly aren't over worked,  But that doesn't mean that there isn't our share of controversy at Poly. This week, other teachers have started pushing to get our pension because we've realized that it's a Korean law that we receive it, but it's not part of our contract.  So it took some effort on the part of other teachers, but things seem to have worked out and we will get our pension.  Now I don't know anything about pensions, and I would have obliviously went without it if I were on my own.  But I tell this story as an example of the misscommunications that occur between our Korean directors who don't speak much English and the English teachers who don't speak any Korean.  And this has caused some frustration no doubt on both sides of the coin.
Second,  the foreign teachers group here has been very welcoming and I'm very lucky to be in a place with people I can get to know.  But predominantly the thing to do with this group is to drink and hang out (with an emphasis on drinking).  I don't have anything against drinking, I've really enjoyed getting tipsy with others and getting to know others in that setting.  But when I've thought about it, it's somewhat disappointing.  It would be nice to have some more creativity in a group of teachers who are representing a different culture.  (This does not mean that everyone here is like that.)
So that's my downside blog.  Overall, things are going well.  I found a pretty sweet chair on the side of the road a couple of days ago.  We called up Sarah and Jonas, out sweet friends with a car, and they picked up the chair and brought it to my apartment. It's a good addition to my pretty empty home.  And I'll provide pictures soon.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I usually have an idea in my head about what I can blog about, but today I didn't.  So I went for a run, and it ended up being one of the best runs ever.  I discovered my favourite spot in Pohang - it's called Sunrise Park (I can't read the signs but that's what I've been told it's called I'm pretty sure).  And since I can't read the signs I got lost, but that's typical for great run.  I knew it was out there but I'd never been through it before, and tonight I just sort of stumbled upon it.  So that was pretty great.  If you visit me I'll take you there.

Work has been good and somewhat repetitive.  And the weekends are always very fun.  The highlight of this past weekend was going to a bar with an unused drum kit and getting to rock out with some awesome guitarists.

Other than that, I think I'm in the middle of the transition between being new here and whatever the next stage is.  So maybe when that stage sinks in I'll have more to talk about.
I don't even have any pictures this week.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

About Pohang and Being a Hero

I'm just about to finish my first month here in Pohang, and if I think about it, that's pretty crazy - it sure doesn't feel like it's been a month.  It's been a good month.  I don't know I could have asked for a better first month.
I thought it might be time to talk a little more about the place that I am in.  Pohang isn't one of Korea's biggest cities, but that doesn't mean it's small.  There's a good sized downtown and quite a number of busy residential neighbourhoods around it.  I live in the neighbourhood of Jang-seong Dong, which is in the northern part of the city.  It is a developing neighbourhood with a lot of apartment buildings being built and also lots of empty lots in the meanwhile.  So far, the hangout places in Pohang (at least for foreign teachers) are a couple of specific bars around town, and the beach.  Pohang has a really nice large beach called Bukbu beach which is only about a 5 minute drive from my apartment.  It's great except the second largest steel factory in the world, Posco, is right across the bay and mostly everyone I've met (including a Posco worker) says the water isn't safe to swim in.  But that's ok - there are other nice beaches outside of the city.
Maybe the biggest differences about living here are the drivers and the roads.  First of all, none of the streets here have names (crazy eh?).  Some of them have numbers but they're all mostly known by the landmarks/important buildings that are on them and the neighbourhoods that they go through.  And then there's the drivers.  In Pohang, and elsewhere in East Asia I'm told, red lights, much of the time, are regarded as yield sign suggestions.  This means that if you come to a red light on a not-so-important-road it's possibly even assumed that instead of stopping, you'll slow down a little, look both ways, and drive right through.  I'm told that this liberal stance on red lights has, as you might assume, led to an increase in accidents compared to the more-conservative-driving-parts-of-the-world, but I haven't seen any yet, and I'm quite surprised by how well it works.  But then you also have to factor in the abundance of scooters.  It seems widely accepted here that the scooter (the smaller and less powerful cousin of the moterbike) is the quickest way to get around, and to deliver food.  There are lots of them here and they obey the rules of the road even less than bigger vehicles - just because they can.  But don't knock them until you've tried them.  Natasha, a co-teacher at my school, who's also been somewhat of an awesome guide to me, has a scooter and she has let me ride on it and even drive it once; if I could choose a hightlight of my time so far, that would probably be it.  So I've convinced myself that a scooter will be my first major investment here (if you don't count a phone - which I just bought [here's the number: 010-2893-0319]).
So that's a little bit about Pohang.

I also have to write about the trip I took to the Bogyeongsa Waterfalls last weekend (full pictures are on facebook).  Four other great people and I drove the 40 minutes (if you don't take the short/long cut) to these waterfalls which include a really great Buddhist temple complex, a small tourist-run town, and around 14 waterfalls (at least that's what people say. We only made it to 2 or 3).  It was my first time outside of Pohang into the tree filled mountainous area and it was really beautiful.  We swam in the small pools at bottom of the waterfalls, jumped off some of the rocks, and had a great time.  But then at the last waterfall we went to, something happened.  There was a bit of a natural rock slide at the bottom of the waterfall and afte we'd been there for a little while, a Korean woman decided to try sliding down it.  Micah, one of the members of our cool group, had tried it earlier and it seemed harmless enough as long as you could swim.  So, assuming that that was the case for this woman, we watched her slide.  But instead of keeping herself up in the water (swimming) she kept going down (sinking).  Micah and I were on the other side of the pool and when we realized the woman certainly was not able to swim we got there as soon as we could and pulled/pushed her out onto the rock.  She seemed to be fine afterwards (maybe a little bit shocked) and she was very grateful of course, but it was a wierd feeling to realize that I had possibly helped save someone's life.  I didn't feel any different, but it made me think a bit about how easy it is to die (to put it bluntly).  I haven't thought too much about the event since then, but it is sort of nice to have been in a heroic sitiation - for me at least, maybe not for the girl).

This is one of the places we swam
This is one of the pictures of the temple.
This is the fountain at Bukbu beach - complete with a rainbow.
This is a sign that has been up at the school for a couple of days. I don't know what it says but it has my name on it - pretty sweet.
The rest of the pictures are of some of my super kindergarteners.  I think they're great.

Thank you for reading to the end.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

About Soccer and Church

I'm really enjoying my kindergarten class.  I have a boy named Larry and he has a brother who lives in Seoul.  Larry talks about his brother a lot and whenever he does he refers to him as his "Seoul brother"...   (get it 'soul brother). I can't help but smile every time and I'm sure he's oblivious as to how funny he is.
Another highlight of being in Korea so far has been being able to play soccer.  Every Tuesdays (and potentially more in the future) a group of foreign teachers meet to play soccer.  We don't play on a full soccer field though, we play on a soccer field that has been divided up into three smaller fields and then green netting has been put around each field.  It's like playing in a netting cage and it's called "Footsall" - it's an international sport.  So that's been really good.
On Sunday I did end up going to the English church and I really enjoyed it.  It was held in a room in a bigger (office looking) building.  There were only about 30 people there but the pastor is on holidays so I think more will attend when he gets back.  The people were really welcoming and after the service they invited everyone to a beach about 20 minutes north of Pohang.  I went and it was fun.  I met some of the members and they were very willing to share some Pohang knowledge with me.  So I'm happy about that, and I'm looking forward to going back.
Overall I'm doing pretty well.  The school days are long and it's hard to make it through some of them.  And I think the jet-leg waited a week and then hit me last week, so I'm somewhat behind on sleep.  But I'm enjoying it and already it has been a rewarding challenge.
This was taken at the beach we went on Sunday.  The area around Pohang is really hilly/mountainous and beautiful and I'm looking forward to hiking in it some day.  Tents are common on Korean beaches.  Sun exposure is frowned upon here so everyone wears full clothing at the beach.

This is me and Khemarin at the beach.  He is a law student here in Pohang and he's from Indonesia (or Cambodia).  He's really nice and he told me that I can get free western food at his school.  And he told me how to get to his school.  The water was pretty cold but Khemarin didn't seem to mind.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Sorry I'm writing this a little late.  I was out of my apartment all of yesterday doing many things: going to the beach and playing a really good soccer game and a good volleyball game; going to a super restaurant where I ate duck for the first time, which turns out to be very good; going to a "noraebang" which is a place with karaoke rooms where you can just sing songs with your friends - it seems funny but they're really popular here - and it's pretty fun; and then hanging out at a bar which played loud Mexican Reggaeton songs.  All that to say that I think Thursdays will be a better time for me to write my blog. 
This story also highlights the fact that there are some cool people here and I'm enjoying getting to know them.  It's certainly an interesting challenge, though, to 'find' my identity here in a new place (I think it is every time you find yourself in a new place with new people).  There is quite a variety of backgrounds in the foreign teacher group here.  I've discovered that a number of them are Christians, so that's a huge blessing.  There's even a girl here who lives a block away and went to Calvin! Crazy eh? (Although for some reason I'm not too surprised).  There is an English speaking church in Pohang, and I'm hoping to go this afternoon, so I'll write more about that later.
School continues to go well.  I can't help but compare it to teaching in Gallup, and teaching here is pretty much stress-free comparatively (and that was a unique challenge to being in Gallup - I don't mean to make it sound like a bad thing).  Teaching here is so 'simple' because the curriculum and and scheduling (pretty much everything) is already layed out for me. While this has been nice, it does have it's drawbacks - it doesn't leave much room for creativity in the classroom.  Also, the goals of the education system in Korea seem to be a little different than in North America.  Here, smarts are judged by how well you can read, understand, and memorize a textbook.  My kindergarten students are super bright - some of them are reading and writing at 3rd grade levels - but I'm not sure that their critical thinking is very strong.  One middle school teacher here put it this way: "Critical thinking skills in America are bad, and in Korea they're worse."  So anyway, more on that later.
Only one picture today.  This is a pear.  This is what all pears are like here.  Crazy eh? (that's my juggling ball beside it to let you put this massive pear in  perspective).  (Ps. I've realized that my floor isn't actually hardwood, it's just a good imitation).
Gamsamnida (thank you) for reading.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Week One for Michael Teacher

I've finished my first week here in Pohang, and it's been pretty great.  Let me tell you about it.
As for the teaching part of it: I don't have to be at school until 9:15 so it's nice to have some wakeup/reorientation (where am I again?) time.  Then I take a nice 10 min walk to school and get ready for teaching at 9:50.  There are 5 other English speaking teachers, and they've been very helpful and welcoming (more on them later).  There are also 6 Korean teachers, one of which is my support teacher in the morning. She's been very helpful, helping me understand how things work.  So I have five 40 minute classes with my wonderfully behaved and very cute kindergarten class from 9:50 until 2:30 with 10 minute breaks and a lunch in between them.  I only have 12 kids and they're all very very smart and fun to be with.  It's really great. Oh, and they call me Michael Teacher, which I like.
Then in the afternoon I teach 5 or 6 elementary aged classes from 3;00 until 7:30.  I teach things like Vocabulary, Grammar, Science, Writing, and I have a debate class one day.  The afternoon is a little more relaxed and I haven't had more than 4 people in any of the classes.  I've really enjoyed some of the classes because most of the students are very attentive and just seem to absorb everything we talk about.  So our hours are pretty long, but overall I'm very happy with how things are.
Then outside of school, my fellow English teachers have: introduced me to a good group of other foriegn teachers from Canada, USA, England, and South Africa; showed me the good bars; brought me with them to play soccer; showed me how to get around on a cab; brought me to the beach last night and today; introduced me to some really good Korean food and restaurants; and insisted on paying for everything.  So I'm excited about getting to know the other foriegn teachers more as well as Korean culture.

Here are some more pictures:

This is my apartment building.  My room is the closest one on the 3rd floor.
This is the local Family Mart which is a good meeting place in the neighbourhood.
These are a couple of the gardens/small farms that I see on my walk to school.  Jangsung-dong is the neighbourhood I live in and it's a developing area with quite a few open lots that are sometimes used for these gardens.
These are some large appartment buildings just down the road from the school.  It's funny, in Pohang there are these random outcroppings of really tall appartment buildings all over.
My School
The Teacher's Room.  My desk is the last one on the left.
The front room of the school.
My classroom, which is full of Kindergarteners in the morning, but this is my afternoon 5th grade class.
I didn't hang that up, my Korean teacher did, to the disgruntlement of some of the American teachers.
Thanks for reading.