Thursday, 22 May 2014
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Originally, I'd wanted to do something to challenge myself each date. While I still want to do this, sometimes time and opportunity don't come knocking at the same time. I'd wanted to have my "date" on Tuesday May 6th as I was off for the long weekend and I figured it would be a nice way to round out what promised to be an action packed weekend (more on that later). However, I found out on April 30th that I'd be off on May 1st. So, impromptu date it was!
The night before was Wine and Crafts night at BexC's where Katetastic and I stayed a really long time chatting with our hostess well after the time-frame for the event. It was a wonderful evening filled with laughter, wine and BRD chicken. Tipsiness definitely kicked in at some point as I devoured the chicken as if I'd never had it before. However, due to the night's activities, the morning didn't get off on as promising a start as I'd have liked as it was nearer 10.30 before I could drag myself from bed.
After a long shower, I made myself a nice strong cup of tea, grabbed my book (I'm doing some self study at the moment) and a banana and headed across the street. In the 30 seconds it takes to get there the amount of looks I got was a little hilarious. One man, who was propped up on his motorbike, dropped his feet to the ground on seeing me trying to not spill my tea everywhere. Even after 10 minutes of sitting and reading he was still staring! The day was gorgeous with the sun spilling down and a gentle breeze balancing out the heat of the sun.
After finishing my book I headed back inside for a while. As I mentioned above, this was a mini date, so I split the rest of my day between cleaning (boring) and working on my blogs (date time!). Photo editing takes time, a lot more than I realised and even after a good two hours at it, I still hadn't made as much headway as I wanted (I have an upcoming photo post that I am working on). Eventually, I gave up the ghost that was my date (and my blog post) and decided to prepare for my Baduk lesson (it's a board game). Unfortunately it wasn't to be as my co-teacher needed me to sign the form stating my intent to stay another year. She wasn't able to come until nearer 5.30 and we chatted for more than an hour.
So you might think I'm mad to have tried to cram a date in on such short notice and to have sacrificed my goal to challenge myself for some time to edit photos. I'll be honest I had no idea what my challenge would be for this month.... I was going to wing it. And while I wish I had had a stronger plan, the day I had was really nice and relaxing - which really is what a date should be about, right? You might think I'm mad to share such a boring date......... no challenges, no funny stories, no deeply insightful thoughts - except that the English language is hilarious! Seriously look at the photo below - I was in stitches!
So on to the next date and something a little more challenging now that eating by myself in a restaurant and going to the movies by myself is out of the way. Maybe a performance or to go to the jimjibang (not likely)? Any suggestions?
PS This title was inspired by a beautiful sunshiny day and Take That's Shine.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
|The white ribbons are in memory of those lost in the Sewol Ferry disaster, 16 April 2014|
As I'm sure you are aware recently there was a ferry disaster in South Korea off the southern coast near Jindo. Many people lost their lives and many are still missing. A huge portion of those affected were students on a field trip. I'm not going to talk about the disaster itself as I believe that you can get way more informed news and opinions about it from the BBC or the Korean Herald.
However, what you may not be aware of is how much this disaster has affected daily life in Korea, especially for schools, students and teachers. Many schools, my own included, have cancelled events like Sports Day that traditionally occur on May 1st. Instead, the students will have classes as normal (for those wondering, it is also Workers Day so I am off). Additionally, many students were looking forward to field trips - some of which were overnight trips and these too have been called off for the foreseeable future. This is understandable, especially considering the huge amount of students who were lost. Parents must be so worried that something might happen to their children. Teachers are probably grateful that they will not be responsible for their students lives so near to this accident. And students? Well, while most of my students know what has happened, I am sure they probably don't fully realise the extent to which this disaster is going to have on their lives: no trips for the foreseeable future, but also in the long run a lot more care and watchful eyes will be on them than was in the past. As Korea reels in grief over this disaster, events that Koreans and expats alike have been looking forward to have been cancelled as joyous festivals, concerts etc are considered insensitive to those who lost their lives and their families. Even events like the lantern festival to celebrate Buddha's birthday have become more low key.
I think that is the hardest thing about this disaster. It is awfully sad, just like the Malaysian Airlines disaster before it and all the other terrible things that happen in our world from tornados to bombs. Even though we want to mourn, and should mourn, life goes on: children are born, grandparents die, lovers are found and marriages collapse. Even in Korea. You might think I'm mad but I do think that in the midst of tragedy, here in Korea we may be forgetting life. My students remind me of it though. As my co-teachers wear yellow ribbons in memory and many breaks are spent discussing it, my students giggle while playing bingo, laugh while trying to follow directions blindfolded and sing "Let it go" with all their hearts.
This disaster will hopefully lead Korea to a better future. A future where seat-belts are always functional and used in the back of the car ( oh, taxi-drivers of Jochiwon), where there are enough lifeboats on each ferry and basic safety is understood by most everyone. Much like when you fly, I really hope that on the ferries (ok I've never been on a ferry so if this already happens, my apologies) safety drills are completed when embarking and disembarking, where disaster drills are conducted regularly and everyone knows what they should do in the case of an emergency (I'm not saying people don't know this already but it is always best to be reiterated again and again). And a future where the captain always goes down with his ship.
PS the title of this post is taken from the lyrics of the ballad "Young Willie McBride" also known as "The Green Fields of France". As I read these lyrics, I thought that they were very poignant and relevant for this, and any, disaster where loss of life could have been avoided had the person in charge not been incompetent.
PPS Whilst I never believe suicide is a good option, the heart breaking reason of the Vice Principal of Danwon High School is probably one of the most tear-jerking things I've ever read:
"Surviving alone is too painful when 200 lives are unaccounted for... I take full responsibility." The note ended with a request that his body be cremated and the ashes scattered over the site of the accident, "that I might be a teacher in heaven to those kids whose bodies have not been found."  (source, Wikipedia)