Saturday, January 23, 2010

AYLP Summary - It's done!

AYLP is over and done with. I'm happily sitting on my yo in Gurye, planning what needs to happen before I leave for SE Asia. I cannot wait for 90-degree weather. Overall, the week was good. The kids had a good time; me some new people. I sat next to a student on the way back to Gurye who was happily texting her new friends the whole way (and filling me in on every detail). Cute.

Needless to say, I think I need to avoid children for at least 24-hours.

Here are a few pictures from the week. I re-uploaded the videos from the past two posts, so those should be working now. Yay!

We had several lectures at the U.S. Embassy. And what U.S. embassy is not complete without a Barack Obama cut-out? This is a picture of the 5 students I brought from Gurye High. (Names from left to right: Chan-ho, Seong-yong, Dong-myeong/Michael, You-jin and Hey-in) What you don't see in the picture (because my students made me promise to edit it out) is all of my students standing on their toes in order to look not-quite-as-short next to the president. Height is a really weird issue around here.

My Gurye students and me at KBS News. KBS News is the major news broadcaster in Korea. It was weird; 30-seconds before this picture, some lady was recording the 5-o'clock news. The students really loved going behind the scenes.

Picture taken at the front of the KBS news history museum. This is the group of ETAs participating in the program. We all teach at different schools around Korea. (Names from left to right: Laura, Leigh, Eric, Jenny and Veronica).

On Friday we visited the DMZ. It was one of the highlights of my week because, since our program is through the U.S. Embassy, we kind of got a special tour. We started by having lunch with the Swiss and Swedish U.N. representatives. For those that need a refresher (I sure did), the DMZ was created by an armistice, not a peace treaty. The armistice basically says that the DMZ is the official line that South Koreans and North Koreans cannot cross. If someone crosses over, it's considered a threat and the defensive side can kill/capture/whatever the person(s) that crosses the line.

There's also a lot more involving weaponry, number of troops, trading rights, etc. but that's the basics. So, to make sure that the armistice was being followed, the U.N. allowed North and South Korea to choose two neutral parties each to monitor the DMZ line. Russia, on behalf of the North, chose Poland and Czechoslovakia while the U.S., on behalf of the South, choose Switzerland and Sweden. Today, 5 Swissmen and 5 Swedishmen man the post at the DMZ. (Czechoslovakia isn't a country anymore and Poland's not communist, so the North doesn't really have anyone on their side there anymore. #Fail)

After lunch, we toured the official diplomatic meeting area. This area is where any diplomats come to talk. The place is completely split into two, as you will see.

Jenny, Veronica and I spelling out "DMZ." We couldn't take a picture of the actual North due to military restrictions, so we did this instead.

Our tour guide. He was actually really really entertaining. (I guess it's pretty cold and boring up there). He did a lot of funny self-monologue since the kids couldn't really understand him (military people talk way to fast, use way too many acronyms and use too much slang for our exhausted students to follow) But I enjoyed it.

The important part of the picture is actually the building behind our guide. That's North Korea. There is a painted line that cuts those blue buildings in half. Once you step over that line, you're in North Korea. The building is the "welcoming" building for those who cross the line and enter the north. South Korea has one, too. It's behind me and it's called Freedom Hall.

Here's my favorite self-monologue:

"To the right you will see Freedom Village. 214 people live - well. There were 214 people living there. But one girl started dating a JSA (U.S. military). They're in Texas now, about to get married. I think her name was Sunny. Do you guys have American names? I guess not because it's not on an official document. You just choose your names like a nickname, sort of. Anyways. Now there's 213 people in Freedom Village."

He had me and Eric cracking up in the back.

This is inside those blue buildings pictured above. The blue buildings are where South, North and anyone else important talk. There are actually two different colored buildings. Blue buildings are for South Korea, grey ones are for North Korea. However, as you remember, nobody mans those buildings, so really the blue ones are the only ones in use.

Inside the blue buildings are two guards: one positioned in the middle of the building and one positioned on the North side. Both stand in 'ready' taekwondo positions. If anyone touches them, they'll switch to attack mode. Doesn't matter who you are.

At the end of the day, the guards have to lock both the North and the South doors of the buildings. One day, a solider was locking up the North door when a North guard attacked him and tried to pull him over. So now, two guards lock up at night. One locks the door, the other holds his belt.

Inside Freedom Hall (the South Korean welcome building).

Gurye High School on Saturday after the closing ceremonies

My team, named "The Sleepers." They were great.

Okay, that's it for now. Thanks for reading! Time for me to catch up on my sleep...


  1. How lucky your group was to have you as their fearless leader. What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing. Great looking bunch. Love and miss you. Mom

  2. Sounds like you had a great trip Amy, and looks like your students enjoyed themselves also. Get some rest and gear up for some fun in SE Asia. Don't forget your sunscreen.

    Love you..
    AS & UJ

  3. Amy- What a wonderful experience you are having. We loved the videos. The live octopus would have made us sick too!! Have a great time rafting and enjoy your time with Megan and friend. WE loved you and miss you--G & G

  4. This was a really nice post, Amy. Thanks for sharing.

  5. So you have discovered the Korean "height complex". It goes into the same general category with how big and round one's eyes are. Kind of weird and firmly entrenched aesthetic and cultural (and somewhat sensitive) issue for many. Then again, I guess the height is not just for Koreans, since I heard some people attributing Napoleon's aggression to his diminutive stature.