Thursday, September 30, 2010

Curious George Touches the Scutt, a Korean Justin Beiber and Why Hellen Keller is Hated

Another month has flown by. In a pitiful attempt to round out my posts for the month to a nice even 2, and after realizing that there might be a lone reader who doesn't see my Facebook updates, I will leave you with several of the corrections of the past month, corrections which never fail to put a smile on my face. I have 75% of a non correction based post written, so check back soon for more adventures of a waegukin (foreigner) in Korea.

‎"When the Hellen Keller was growed up she get a college. She the blind she the deaf. But Helle get tiring more and more. That time Anne was died and Hellen very said. Then Hellen also is died. I hate this story because it is so boring."

‎"The Geoge and yellow hat uncle goes a camping at the Jeoju. The Geoge put on the tent. Was water at the jar. The water and the firl was the geoge lail in the water. The Geoge goes vary almore. The Joege havent the scongk. Touch the scutt. The geogo cack tree. Find uncle yellow hat. I think good book."

"One town Brice lived. Brice loved mice. I don't love mice. Because mice are dirty. But Brice washed and dried the 25 mice. So all mice were always clean. Everyday Brice fed cheese with them. I want to look after the Hampster but my mom always said, 'NO!' Brice will be thinking small thing is precious. Small thing is precious!"

"Many people hungry in African. But the many people eat many animals. It is not good. I think the African have many animals (elephant, monkey, snake...) The animals is extermination danger. Do you want to that???? I want see many animals in African. Mabey next day is many animal don't see. Because many the African eat that. I think don't eat animal."

‎"korea''s exonomy is not good. so i think that we should help starving people. i think now is crisis, and for north korea, they shoot new clear energy here and there. they will shoot new clear energy more than now. now korea is in the danger."

"Andrew have dirty tooth. 'Mother father i have sick the tooth' 'What? Why are you sick?' 'It is the tooth cavity' 'Oh! my god! you very sick!' Andrew forget. Andrew eat the apple. 'What you doing? Oh my god you eat the apple! Don't do that it dangerous!' Arrive the doctor 'where are your son' 'mother outch I very very... very sick.' the end. i hate dental office. you must read this book."

"We can get friend any where because the tools can be a friend, the problem is we can give friendship to them, but they cant. But we must think advice is very good. But if friend is tracked you must say to friend, 'go police officer and surrender oneself to justice.'"

"Many astronauts say same about space. 'It's great.' 'It's wonderfull.' 'I go to space every day.'"

‎"Many people like dog but some people don't like dog but I like dog people like dog I like dog many people like dog."

"Almosty most children have parents, because some children's parents died or they trash their children. Anyway, every child in Earth, they hate their parents control them, and I hate that too. It is very anger to me, though I that that sometimes it is good, but sometimes it is bad, but sometimes it is good, but I think it is bad."

September is about to end and so is this blog post, but before it does, here are three exchanges I recently had with Korean children that I feel should be recorded in West Meets East history.

I have been teaching our school's Newspaper classes, and recently, I received a shout out in a student's article on typhoons. I was pretty flattered, though they missed the key point in my lesson on interviews, this being that a quote has to be something that a person actually said. "'I think it's funny! but many people was die. I just sad of that. I can play this morning. joke.' said Peter Ramsey West a 23 year old english teacher who lives on the 1th floor of an apartment building near Suwon."

We are supposed to give our students English names to be used during class time. If left up to them, you will have a class full of Johnny, Jimmy, Sally and Jenny, which is why I choose to be a bit creative. The names of my students range from Hot Dog to Beyonce to Pauly D, and it has made the classroom experience a bit more colorful. Recently I was walking down the street and was approached by a tiny Korean boy, who, attempting to practice his English, said, "Hello sir. My name is Justin Beiber." Hello Justin Beiber. Good to see other English teachers have as much fun naming their students as I do.

Jimmy Student: "Teacher. In America, no more racist?"
Peter: "Well Jimmy, it is much better today than it was in the book you just read about slavery, but there are still many stupid racist people in America."
Jimmy (looking absolutely shocked): "They don't like the basketball players?!"

That is all for now, check back after the weekend for more happenings in South Korea.

Until Next Time,

Peter Teecha

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Floor -1 and the One Man Giggle Fest

In the 9 months I have spent in Korea, I have grown to truly love this country. I love the people and their lifestyle, I am really a big fan of the culture and the food, I think Seoul is a place everyone spend a good amount of time in, and the Korean pop songs that are stuck in my head 23.5 hours of every day are endured with love and laughter. And... I have even grown to love Kimchi. Who saw that coming? The one thing, however, that I absolutely abhor about this country would be the Korean elevator experience.

I hate everything about Korean elevators. The movie theater we visit on a weekly basis is on the 8th floor of a building, and I hate elevators so much that I actually always will opt to take 8 floors worth of escalators instead of trying out the elevator. They are just that awful. Allow me to paint a picture for you to better explain my pure loathing of the Korean Elevator.

1. Elevators here are hot, crowded, and frequently contain a pile of soju scented vomit in the corner.
2. There seems to be a complete lack of elevator etiquette in this country. A basic understanding that if an elevator arrives at the ground floor, you let the full elevator of people exit before you shove your way on, seems to not exist in the average Korean psyche.
3. Korean elevator doors do not have the handy little safety feature of those in the West that prevents them from closing, full force, on the poor foreigner who happens to be currently standing between them.
4. Working on the 8th floor of a building containing several academies means that it is not uncommon to find myself jam packed in an elevator with 1,500 elementary students who seem to love nothing more than to stare and the sweaty foreign giant standing in the corner awkwardly looking at the ceiling.
5. When finding oneself in this situation, you can pretty much expect that the unusually slow elevator will be stopping on every single floor to pick up the next load of Korean babies. Even though it may be completely full, the groups of toddlers in backpacks still will shove their way on to the jam packed elevator*. The chaos will only momentarily cease when the elevator makes the dreaded beeping sound that informs its occupants that it is too full to safely continue on its journey. At this point in time, all eyes judgingly turn to the biggest person in the elevator. Way to add insult to elevator ride, you little shits.

This may sound like an unusually bitter post, but some elevator background is needed to help you fully appreciate the story I am about to share with you.

A typical weekend in my life in Korea usually involves at least 2 movies in our friendly local DVDBang. A DVDBang is one of those really amazing services in Korea that would just really not work out in the states thanks to intravenous drug users. The front of a DVDBang looks like a smaller version of a Blockbuster, but after paying you are taken to a room with a huge comfortable couch/bed to sprawl upon as you view your film of choice. So, with happy hearts and my man purse filled to the brim with ice cream and soju (necessities for the DVDBang experience) myself and two friends entered the elevator with a fourth floor DVDBang destination, having no idea what was in store for our afternoon.

This lift really fit the disgusting Korean elevator bill. It was small, incredibly hot and stuffy, and though there was no visible vomit in the corner, the smell indicated that pretty recently someone had emptied the liquid contents of their stomach and it had absorbed itself into the sticky nasty floor of this prehistoric elevator. We had not even made it up one floor when the elevator began to shake, we heard a loud crash as it suddenly dropped a floor and a half. The light above the door, before it turned off, informed us that we were now on floor -1. Observing that this elevator did not provide a basement option, we came to the conclusion that this was, in fact, a bad thing.

We tried pressing the call button and waited, no one came. After 15 minutes we entered the screaming portion of the afternoon. "HELP! WAEGUKIN! HELP!" Waegukin translates as foreigner, and, not knowing how to say 'help' in Korean, we figured it was an appropriate bit of information to include in our screams.

In my retelling of this story, I have enjoyed discussing the new side of your friends that comes out when put in emergencyish situations like being stuck in a really disgusting elevator for a long period of time. My friend Stephanie, between screams, realized that the lack of available air could become a problem, and with a boyscout like determination busied herself with coming up with new and inventive ways to pry open the doors. Jenny, squatting on the floor with her head near her knees and her hands in her hair rocked back and forth quietly moaning "oh my God oh my God oh my God" to no one in particular. Me? I took the opportunity to open my ice cream and began what turned into a 30 minute, one man giggle fest.

More time passed and we realized that cell phones could potentially be a beneficial tool in our impending release from the hellevator that was currently masquerading as captor. I called my Korean friend Ryan who, while listening to my giggles, didn't seem to believe that I actually was stuck in an elevator and needed assistance. After several minutes of assuring him through my laughter that yes, I did need help, and no, I had no idea why I was laughing, we achieved two important things. The first being that a call was made to the police informing them that 3 foreigners were trapped on floor -1 in an elevator going to a DVDBang somewhere in Ingyedong. The second being that I learned how to say 'help' in Korean. "do wa joo sae yo." "do wa joo sae yo?" Am I right in judging the Korean language for not understanding that the concept 'help' needs to be represented by a word that is short, accessible and easily screamable? Needless to say, we stuck with the "HELP! WAEGUKIN!" approach.

I have described the duration of my time in the elevator to many people as being close to an hour, and because Jenny and Stephanie will most likely be reading this post, I must now admit that this is a bit of a lie. All in all we were probably stuck for 35-40 minutes, but trust me when I tell you that this was one of the longest periods of my life. Just when we began contemplating which iof us should be eaten first if the situation got too dire, the elevator rose to floor one, and we were saved. It is funny when the biggest accomplishment in your day is getting out of an elevator. When the three of us, drenched in sweat, finally exited the elevator, we decided it would probably be best to take the stairs to the DVDBang**.

I told this story to many of my students and was surprised how many of them have shared similar experiences. It sounds like this happens pretty frequently in Korea, and I am hoping that statistically speaking, my turn in the hellevator has passed. I guess we can say the moral of this story is that I learned an important lesson, and that was to not fully hate on Korean elevators, because who knows how much time you may be spending in one.

That is all for now,

Until Next Time,
Peeta Teecha

PS. If you are reading this, let me know! I always love to hear comments and suggestions, praise and job offers.

Though this video was taken in Japan and these are business people and not children, the elevator experience feels ish like this video. Check it out and take a moment to appreciate your bubble, which will never be the same after a trip to Asia.

This is the movie that we decided was the best mental medicine to aid us in coming down from the elevator experience