Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fridays with Elderly Russian ESL Students

Subbing part time for the language school here has been good, but the inconsistent nature of the job can be difficult at times. I really miss having a consistent set of students and classes so I am pleased to have finally gotten my assignment for the St. James ESL program. Keep in mind this is a volunteer position and so is not paid. However, it will of course pay off in the long run. ;)

Usually one gets the choice of tutoring students one-on-one, but I chose a group of old Russian ladies who want basic survival English. The program mostly caters to immigrants or refugees. For tutoring the students are tested, but I guess for a group of elderly ladies they bypassed the testing. Instead I have a class of low to moderate English students. Some have been here for several years to a few.

The curriculum, materials and design is all up to me and so of course I've been working hard at trying to put together quality lessons.

We are already heading towards class 3, and in that time I have learned not just what they need to learn but how to teach it. It's not just that they're low level, but also of the senior age level. So they're hearing is a bit off and also patience, I would say. However, they are fun to work with and I'm doing my best to take pauses, be patient and really be aware of their needs. The red dice below is used at the beginning for a warm-up, where they pass it around while practicing target language. It's to make up for the fact I haven't gotten a proper ball.

So far my lessons have been on classroom English, personal information and telephone English. The center I go to has books and materials I could use but I've mostly been relying on the internet, since that's faster. In the process I've come across other literacy and Adult ESL curriculum from different parts of the country, which have been helpful towards learning about this part of the field.

Every time I go to set up the class I feel a bit nervous, because these are elderly students. In my opinion they deserve a good class and I'm not too sure if I'm bringing it to them. It's suppose to be six students but so far 3 or 4 have come.

I'm still doing the subbing, and hope to do more during my summer time off. But that can be real challenging as the English they're learning is for Academic purposes and sometimes I just don't know the answers. So sometimes I feel a little incompetent at the job, but I remind myself that I'm not having consistent classes and I get the material about 24 hours ahead of time.

So having this Friday class gives me a boost of confidence again and something to look forward to. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

A dip in a lake

Summer in Seattle is really a great experience. On some days it reminds me of California, with clear blue skies and warm temperatures. Other times it gets a bit cloudy and a little cool. But overall I think I am pleased with the summer weather in Seattle.

I am also really fortunate to have made friends with someone who lives right next to a lake. Last Friday she invited me out (along with another friend) to swim.

I was a bit nervous at first to jump in, but after I did I felt so much relief. The cool water and natural area was enough to melt away this city girl's blues. Laying out there on her dock and having some girl time chatting going on, made me think that this kind of life is what I want to live up to. I day dreamed that I'll graduate, get a professional job (eventually) and then be able to buy or rent a small house out in the country area near Seattle. The commute would suck to wherever I'm working, but the warm afternoons sitting on a porch looking out on a lake or forest, would be worth it.

Another experience which made me grateful for moving back to America.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I visited Bruce Lee's Grave a while back

When I visited Volunteer Park, a while back, I also visited Bruce Lee's grave. I believe today marks his death anniversary.

His son, Brandon Lee, lies next to him. So some notes on visiting this great man's's a tourist site. No really, in the 30 or so minutes I was there not one moment did Bruce Lee's grave have some time to itself. People react in different ways to seeing it and it seems enjoy putting tokens on his grave.

The cemetery itself was nice and there was a view nearby. I think if you are in Seattle, it would be fun to check out this site but beware it's kind of a tourist's flocking place.

Anyways, I've always enjoyed Bruce's wisdom and you can get some here:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Sub Pop Records Silver Jubilee

Sub Pop Records, which is home to many artists I have listened to throughout my life, hosted a 25th anniversary public concert here in Seattle. It was such a "pop up" sort of deal that I didn't know about it till the morning of.

Called the, "Sub Pop Records Silver Jubilee" and took place on a warm sunny Saturday in Georgetown, Washington.

I personally haven't been to an outdoor concert like this in a long time. In fact, I don't think I've ever been to one with several stages. There were many performers to choose from, ranging from well known acts to newer ones.

This was my first time at Georgetown, which is a little city situated below the Seattle proper area. Known for some nice restaurants and kooky shops, it's situated in an old industrial part of town. Wikipedia:
"Georgetown is arguably the oldest neighborhood of Seattle. Georgetown's first settlement was founded on September 27, 1851, when Luther Collins, Henry Van Asselt, and the Maple family arrived with their household goods with the intention of farming the rich alluvial lands of the Duwamish delta."
What you are left with is interesting architecture to look at and history to ponder over. So situated along this one street were three stages, food trucks and vendors. I actually found the whole set up quite nice and there was a relaxed atmosphere and not a high presence of police on the scene.

It's fun being a part of this music culture, considering I listen to several bands on this label. At this concert I heard:

The Baptist Generals:

J Mascis (My favorite):

Father John Misty (the lead singer had a funny way of singing, not to mention the technical difficulties they had setting up):

The best part of the whole experience was having the Full Tilt ice-cream bar "Mudhoney", which was cinnamon and honey ice-cream with chocolate on top. 

Attending this eventful day helped shake my "Korea blues" and helped remind me how much I missed living in America, and generally just to live in the moment and enjoy life. During the J. Mascis concert I closed my eyes and let the sun soak into my skin, while getting lost in the guitar chords. Perhaps the waft of smoke around me helped with that feeling, but I decided to enjoy the moment...didn't I?!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Post-Korean Life

I think it's the summer season, because I am starting to miss Korea these days. I recall when I was back in Korea reading some bloggers who moved back to their home country and talked about "reverse culture shock". At the time I thought it was kind of over-dramatic, especially reading about those who were so depressed upon having to live back in their home country.

Now, I'm not really sad and depressed I'm not in Korea anymore. Nor, does American life upset me. I think for the most part I'm taking in the fact that my Korean life is no more. Especially with the summer time, because I really enjoyed summers in Korea. The heat and sweat never really bothered me too much and I liked the sounds of the cicadas droning on as they did.

Mostly though I sit back and fathom that the last five years of my life were spent in Korea. The relationships and adventures I had all happened over there across the ocean, and now I'm here. The hardest part it seems is that I have no one here to talk to about my life in Korea. No one to say, "Oh yea, you remember that time..." I can tell new friends and people about my times there but if they're not Korean or never been there, then it's hard for them to really understand.

That is why I really enjoyed going to a language group meetup on Wednesday. There I met a Korean girl who just got here for her vacation. It was fun to talk to her about my times in Korea and what I missed. I'm hoping I could meet up with her and take her around town, but I feel somewhat shy to ask. Maybe I can propose it at the next meeting, and see how it goes.

With all this thinking about Korea I do sometimes wonder if I'll ever go back there. But then I realize I don't want to put Tom through that trip again, and if I go back it would be for good. I don't think I would have the resources or energy to keep bouncing around. So in some ways I'm facing this decision I made to leave Korea, and I have to remember the reasons why. I do feel happy I'm closer to family and familiarity. I like the program I'm in and the path of teaching here is interesting. Definitely, I feel teaching here is actually more challenging than where I was at in Korea.

Mostly, I don't want to forget about all that I did and saw while in Korea. I'm thinking of printing out some pictures I took during my time there and making a mural.

Finally, I want to add that living abroad and then moving back home does make you feel different. I suppose I am grateful for my grown perspective on life and all the changing I did in Korea.

When my heart and soul get swept up by these emotions I remember that I have Tom, and in some sense he is my closest connection to Korea. Thank you, Tom!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Volunteer Park Conservatory: Flower and Flora Invasion

Volunteer Park is located just a bit north of where I live (about 8 min. drive) and is situated above Capitol Hill near Madrona. When looking on a map it's a nice green space that takes up the area. To get my nose out of the books and my face away from my screen I try to get out now and then and enjoy what Seattle has to offer.

So it is that I took in this green space and it's Conservatory of flowers and flora. Without further ado is a very high load of "flower photos" for you to enjoy. In some sense you might end up overwhelmed by all the glory that beautiful colors arranged in lovely patterns can make in nature. Indeed, I had a really good time in the Conservatory and the fact that it happened to be one of their free entry days, made it even better. So without further ado...

When I walked around and looked at the flowers I really liked the way the light landed on them and was spread out. Perhaps you can see this in the above photos.

The Conservatory was also decorated with glass-flower sculptures which added an artistic touch...

More flowers:

I also enjoyed the patterns created in the leafy bunches found throughout the Conservatory. 

Some shots of the interior walkways...

One interesting section had this sound sculpture attached to the roof, which when moved by wind made chiming sounds.

Cacti, succulents, carnivorous plants...

Needless to say, I'm inspired now to draw or paint from one of these photos and in fact that's pretty much what I thought about when I was taking them. 

After the Conservatory I wondered through the park and found the following lovely flower. Then I moved from place to place finding the coziest spot to draw, and ended up with the following drawing. Overall I hope to be back in the park to find more fun spots to enjoy.