So, here's the skinny with what's new in my life:
April 2-5: Fulbright ETA conference in Seogwipo (sounds like soggy-po) on Jeju island.
Jeju is kind of the "Hawaii" of Korea. It's famous for Mt. Halla, the tallest mountain in South Korea. It's a big, inactive volcano. Jeju is also famous for oranges. They produce enough to feed the entire country full of oranges and tangerines for the entire year. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries, so I had very few shots.
We climbed "Sunset Peak," meaning the rim of an inactive volcano that looks out over the western ocean. Here I am at the top!
April 8: Teacher's Half-Day
Basically, classes were shortened so that class ended at 3pm (which is early...school usually ends at 10pm) and all but a few teachers got to go look at cherry blossoms. Sounds crazy, right? Let me explain.
Gurye is covered in two types of plants: cherry blossom trees and sansu-you bushes. Both produce this sour berry used for both kid and adult juice. And, what a coincidence! They both bloom at the same time. So, for a window of about 10 days, I looked out my window at home to see a sea of pink and yellow set against endless mountains and blue skies.
That said, April 8th was about day 5 of blooming; the height of the blooming season. So, all the teachers (except for the unlucky few...) piled into cars to seek out the most scenic views.
My homegirls: They make working in Gurye bearable. They are Gee-Hae (ethics), Eun-Jang (Chinese language), me (English!) and Mi-Young (English language). They made me bend over so I wouldn't be taller than them. ^^
Cherry blossoms take #2 (again, I had to bend my knees)
Ever wonder what an ahjummah looks like? I mean, I mention them in my posts a lot...
Making acorn jello (it's as gross as it sounds) in her spring outfit. See? How can you look at her an NOT smile??
April 14: 2nd Grade Field Trip to Gwangju
Gwangju is that big city near me (about 90 minutes west). "Gwang" is Chinese for "Light" and "Ju" means city. Therefore, Gwangju is the "City of Lights." Which is very symbolic, given that Gwangju is the birthplace of democracy in South Korea. In the spring of 1980, students and civilians protested the current government of Korea. (There was a great government cover-up of civilian murders [also in Gwangju] to suppress political resistance). The result of the coup was a massive massacre of unarmed civilian protesters by a fully-armed military. From this tragedy emerged democracy and modern government in Korea.
Anyways, I'm getting passionate. Our first stop was the massacre memorial museum, where over 600 civilians are buried.We watched a video of the massacre. When the movie ended and the lights came on, I was surprised to see everyone crying. Even the "bad boys" were less-rowdy than usual. I was quickly reminded of the exact young age of this country. This happened 30 years ago. Some of my teachers were living in Gwangju! Some parents of my students attended the university where the massacre occurred. Korea as I know it is still a baby.
Don't worry, the trip wasn't a total downer. After the museum, we went to the Gwangju light festival! It was really cold, but fun. They had a bunch of tents that had sciency and techy stuff about lights. Cooler than it sounds, I promise.
Me, Gee-Hae, In-ho and "Jae" in front of the entrance to the light festival.
Gee-Hae and Mi-Young playing some Wii baseball
April ???: Bowling!
My Gurye friends, Matt and Rob, and I often go bowling. Well. Matt usually bowls about 150, Rob about 130. I average 100 on good days. Anyways, this one time Matt and I both bowled terrible games and, for the first (and probably last) time ever, I beat him without a handicap. So, I had to take a picture. (note my first frame....yikes!)
So, that's my life. Exciting as always! Next weekend is my first homestay's grandfather's 70th birthday party (70 is a big birthday....like 50 is for us).
Also, I accepted a job as activity director for Camp Fulbright - a two-week English camp in July. Which means, I will be coming home August 1 or 2. Mark you calendars! ;)