Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Sunset

A wise photography teacher I once had long ago told me to turn around when shooting a sunset. It's true sometimes the light is even more immaculate.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Volunteered to Paint the Walls

It might be roasting hot outside, but that didn't stop me from volunteering my free time this Saturday to help paint the walls. The Mannam International Volunteer Association puts on regular trips and activities to help out in the community. It's funny how I came across this group. The first time I was walking to the station near my house and someone handed me a card. At the time I passed it off as another religious group wanting English speakers.

Later on I met someone new at one of the studio sessions at Jankura art space, and they told me how the group is a lot of fun and goes to many locations around Korea. So I became interested and exchanged emails with her.

A few weeks ago she told me about a mural painting project and I lept at the idea. A school out near Myeongil-dong needed their walls painted. However, this was no ordinary school and is one meant for disabled children. As I painted the wall, I couldn't help but imagine the cheerful smiles the students would have when they return to school and see the characters on the wall.

When I arrived I was handed a paint brush and paints by my friend and told, "I started to make this bunny, but I think you can do better." I suggested putting a black outline around it, and went from there. Although the "space bunny" wasn't as exciting to look at like Pororo next to it, I tried to spruce it up as I went along.

I gave him a blue space pack, pink ear and nose, and a blue big eye to look out at on everyone. I also tried to whiten him up in areas. I have to say I would tried to have stayed longer and help out on other parts of the wall, but I was beat from the heat. However, I left feeling accomplished and that I did some good.

Here are some pictures of the rest of the wall.

This group also has cooking classes, Korean classes and meet ups often, so if you want to meet new people than join up. You can meet people from around the world, as is hinted in the "International" portion of their name. Check out the Facebook group for another way to get connected.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Handmade Korea Fair 2012

Camp has allowed me to finish work around 12:15 everyday, and although I usually stay and get work done for next semester I try to find time to enjoy current events around Seoul. Going on at COEX right now, at Hall B, is the Handmade Korea Fair. I wanted to go because I like seeing handmade crafts, and in this summer heat you want to be indoors anyways.

The fair was set up with many booths showing off handmade crafts ranging from pottery, jewelry, hairpins and even fine art. I'll take you around the fair by clumping together the handmade stuff I saw into categories.

Pottery or Clay Made:

There were a lot of cups and mugs to be found, but some fun stuff made from clay was also out there, such as the following set of chickens.

I particularly enjoyed these set of cats with their varying poses and colors, however at a price of 70,000 won each I wasn't able to take one home.

Crafty Stuff:

There was a large swath of booths that featured hand painted items, whether it was on fans, napkins or even shoes people seemed to enjoy applying paint to various surfaces.

Knitted items were also a feature at the fair, with handmade hair ties and pins for sale. What I liked most was the artist behind the counter busily working away making new items.

Fine Art:
Amongst the crafty booths and precision made jewelry were some fine-art to be found. One of my art acquaintances was there showing recent and old work.

Martyn Thompson is known for his panoramic photographs, but more recently has been making these light-photo sculptures that had many people stoping by to check them out.

Other Fine Art:

Mural Painters:
My favorite feature of this fair were the various mural painters they had set up throughout the floor. It was fun to walk around one corner and find an artist hard at work on a blank white wall. It gave the event a more fresh feel to it. Mostly, I enjoyed seeing the progress these artists made as I walked passed their mural several times.


The highlight of the whole thing was when I started talking to one of the mural artists and apparently they could make you a silk-screen print on site. Just 20,000 won and you got yourself an authentic piece of art. The artist was from Japan, and I wondered if I was taking home something from a famous artist.

The rest are pictures I took from the fair that have no real category. I enjoyed the way people set up their booth, and also there were some sections where you could make things.

The fair will be happening this weekend if you still want to check it out. To get in costs 10,000 won, which isn't too bad and you end up supporting artists. Plus you have the whole mall of COEX to explore afterwards, which in my opinion is not a bad way to spend a hot summer day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Seoul KOTESOL Chapter Meeting

I have decided to take teaching English a bit more seriously, and in that process realized it might be a good idea to join the KOTESOL group. About two or three years ago I attended their international conference they hold each year in the Fall. Although I showed up at the last half of it, I remember it felt great to be around folks who are interested in teaching English.

Yesterday, I attended the Seoul chapter of the group and enjoyed their monthly meeting nearby Sookmyung University. It was a hot and sultry afternoon when I arrived, and due to a busy morning had skipped lunch. But I grabbed a snack and joined folks in the cool air-conditioned room. There I was greeted by Stafford from the Chosun Bimbo, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting at other events. I also was greeted to some other nice folks who are part of the group.

Things got under way and soon there were two groups swapping stories and ideas about the 4 basic skills one teaches in this job. (Reading, writing, speaking, and listening). I found myself having to kick on the gears in my head and respond to questions like, "Have you had any successful speaking activities lately?" I teach 2nd grade math, and explained that most of the time my goals are for the students to not speak Korean and that the lower levels do well. But I chimed in with several examples and statements on the topics, adding my own flare to the group. Mostly, I just enjoyed being around people who take their teaching job seriously and want to learn more. I hate to say this, and not sound terrible, but I find myself at work not having many conversations about the actual teaching job. Mostly we talk about which students are our favorites and which ones we wish would fall down a well. When it comes to talking about improving our lessons, or how to get the kids to speak, all of that kind of wandered off from the beginning.

But at my school we are left to our own devices and can teach however we see fit, so it is no wonder people don't really feel like talking about it. However, usually we meet with other members at the school to discuss the subject we are teaching (subject meetings). Thankfully, at these events people talk about how to improve and get the kids to use their skills more.

Back to the fun times at the Seoul chapter KOTESOL meeting. We finished up our group discussions and then headed up the hill to the Hyochang park. Both of these areas were new to me, and sorry I didn't grab any pictures. Actually, I brought my camera but realized that I attached my macro lens on accident.

The park picnic was very pleasant, and gave everyone a chance to gab about this and that. I was amongst other seasoned residents of Korea, and so we reflected on how things have changed over time.

All in all, I look forward to attending future meetings and making it to the International Conference in October. I also highly recommend anyone interested in perking up their teaching career to give the group a shot. Enrollment fees are half off, apparently and with membership you get discounts to their big events. Plus, nothing really beats the conversations you can have about teaching and people you can meet who have been in this field for some time.

Head on over to the KOTESOL website, and if you fancy it try out joining as a member.
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