12.01.2011 - 12.26.2011 20 °F
First off, Merry Christmas! This last post of 2011 will be split into two parts: part 1 being the general update and part 2, our Korean Christmas!
Holy cow, it's freezing! We have had snow (flurries mostly) 3 times so far this year and yes, it is beautiful but man it's sure cold!! Thanks to no daylight savings I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark which is pretty depressing HOWEVER, I did manage to snap this cool pic on my way to work one morning last week.
In November a few of us went to see a professional basketball game with a Korean friend of mine. I love sports and sports fans and it is always interesting seeing how they do things abroad when language, culture etc are bound to make things a bit different. For example, most of the chants and cheers were in Korean except for, "De-fense!" Swhite noticed this and we asked our friend why just the one cheer was in English and he said, "Oh it's because the Korean word for "defense" is three syllables so it doesn't sound as good." Makes sense I guess!
The mascot dressed as bowl of noodles with chopsticks wasn't exactly standard either!
We were quite excited about the halftime performance too!
It was a great game too... a real barn burner! It went into double overtime and the away team won with a buzzer beater! AHHH, I miss watching sports!
One other thing that was evident right away is that the home team had only one foreign player and the away team had two. When we asked our friend about this he said, "Oh no, there's only one foreigner allowed per team." When we said, what about #15? He said, "No, he's Korean. His name is Moon Tae-young." This is the player in question:
We were not convinced!
After a little research once I got home I discovered that Korean Immigration laws had recently changed.
Previously, Korean overseas adoptees and others who wished to acquire Korean citizenship had to renounce their previous nationality. But under the revised Nationality Act, which took effect on Jan. 1, the government offers dual citizenship to foreigners with outstanding talents.
This new law combined with the league's "Ethnic Korean Draft" system is the loop hole for multiple foreign players to be on the same team in the KBL (Korean Basketball League). Here is a summary of the "Ethnic Draft" from a website called "Halfkorean.com":
KBL Ethnic Draft Feature
On February 3, 2009, the Korean Basketball League (KBL) held a historic first-ever “Ethnic” draft. It was conducted on the day before the standard KBL draft. There was a bit of controversy due to some rules that the KBL placed on teams if they decided to choose players from this draft such as losing a pick in the standard draft along with other regulations. Although there was controversy, the draft could be considered a step forward in allowing mixed Koreans to play in the KBL and not be considered “foreign” players.
Moon Tae-young and his brother are among a handful of other half-Korean players who have been granted dual citizenship in order to play in the league and be counted as a Korean instead of a foreigner. Moon Tae-young and his brother Moon Tae-jong (formerly Greg and Jarod Stevenson) were raised in the US by their American father and Korean mother, both played college ball in the US and played in various professional leagues abroad before playing in Korea. Red carpet treatment is universal!
These are the Moon/Stevenson bothers:
If you are as curious as I am about all of this, here are the two websites I found most of the information from:
Things at school have been just fine these days. I must say, I don't mind all of the vacations the kids are taking around the holidays... even one less kid for a day makes things so much easier! We are starting to prepare for our big graduation ceremony at the end of February and each class must perform two songs of the teacher's choice. I chose, "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music and my kids are rockin' it! I gave them each a printout with little clip art pictures since they can't really read yet and the only issue so far seems to be the "schnitzel" line... oops!
Each morning the kids spend the first two periods doing really difficult exercises in their workbook when their attention and focus for the workbooks is best. Because I know the books are so tough for them I let them do a coloring sheet that has something to do with one of their current vocab/phonics words the whole next period. They get to chat and relax a bit and that inevitably leads to them singing! There is a new K-Pop song called, "Hands Up" and the chorus is in English and just repeats the phrase, "Put your hands up!" My kids LOVE this song and sing it often. They even do the little stutter/auto tune part! Check it out!
Once again, my "Kid's say the Darndest Things" shout out goes to good ol' Donte. One day the kids were coloring and he just said, "Sometimes Gevon (his teenage brother) farts on me when I won't give him something he wants." Although I was laughing pretty hard, I was surprised how quickly and easily I responded to him saying, "Yeah, my brother used to do that to me too!" Donte looked surprised and said, "Daniel? Daniel did that to you?" I told him yes and then asked him what happens when Gevon does that and he said, "Well I say peee-yeeewww! And then I tell my dad and he comes in and opens the window." And with that, Donte went back to his coloring.
I have still been having lots of trouble getting the videos to upload onto the blog so here are the link to two more I have been wanting to post that you can copy and paste to watch on Youtube:
This is just a taste of what life is like when the Panda Class takes a field trip!
And this is the email I received on my birthday from my coworker whose niece, Katie is in my class!
Part 2: Christmas time in Seoul!
The city has been decorated beautifully for Christmas since about mid-November but I was still unsure of how the Koreans usually celebrate. At school we had a Christmas party for the kids on the 21st and Santa (Tae-Kwon Do teacher) came, did a few magic tricks and gave each kid a gift that they were not allowed to open until they got home. The parents had been asked to send in a wrapped present for their child hidden in other paper for "Santa" to give them with a short message. I was asked to translate the note home for the American parents and the sample message was, "Big boys don't cry." I was so confused! It turns out they usually use "Santa" as an opportunity to tell their kid something they want them to work on and pretend Santa thinks so too. I didn't think the "Big boys don't cry." sample would make much sense so I altered it a bit and also gave a praising type idea as well and I think everyone understood. Right after Santa hobbled in and started talking one of the American kids asked, "Why is Santa speaking Korean?"
(sorry about the rotation issue again!)
My group of girlfriends (the High-5!) did a fantastic job banning together to make our first (and hopefully only) Christmas away from home special. It started off strong when we got the genius idea to take a group photo and send it home as a Christmas card for our families and friends. We went to a touristy area of the city and took 5 different pictures in Hanboks (traditional Korean clothing). Here are our five poses!
After all Skyping with our respective families on Christmas morning, the High-5 girls got together to have a party in onezies, eat pizza, listen to Christmas music and exchange gifts. Yes, ONEZIE as in GIANT full bodied pajamas for adults! We had a blast and I can't imagine my Korean Christmas being any better than with this group of gals!
Oh and the party doesn't stop here for the High-5.... we're heading to Tokyo tomorrow!
See you in 2012!!