Thursday, November 21, 2013

Measuring Sticks & Burning Bushes

Student 1: "Would you rather marry a handsome dumb man or an ugly intelligent man?"
Student 2 (and followed by the rest): "I'd rather marry an ugly and intelligent man, because since he's smart he can get a good job and have plastic surgery to make himself handsome."

This conversation happened a few days ago, and while it may initially pull out a laugh or two at its seemingly absurdness, it only added to the burden I have already been hauling for this class of four preteen girls. Such questions and answers do not only mirror their thoughts toward others, but the way they view themselves. 

I live in a culture where it is not uncommon for parents to provide their children with plastic surgeries as graduation gifts and where before-and-after billboards plaster the walls of subway stations displaying the endless possibilities for "improvement." One could hardly blame these helpless hearts for the lies they believe. 

I'm fat. I'm ugly. I'm dumb. I'm not good enough.

Thoughts like these and others can encourage drastic and destructive measures..

I need to lose weight.  I need to change my looks. I need to be the smartest.  I need to be something; anything more than I am now.

My mom recently shared a devotional with me from Anne Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. The post was her reflections of the harm caused by comparison:

“The world isn’t a forest of measuring sticks. The world is a forest of burning bushes. Everything isn’t a marker to make you feel behind or ahead; everything is a flame to make you see GOD is here. That God is working through this person’s life, that God is redeeming that person’s life, that God is igniting this work, that God is present here in this mess, that God is using even this.” (Anne Voskamp)

This is the message I long to instill in the lives of my precious students. It pains me seeing the insecurities that seep through mouths and actions of these amazing girls I have come to love so dearly; it pains me because many of those insecurities are battles I have fought and continue to fight deep down. I know the war is real. I know the wounds can cut deep. As I riot at the door of their spirits, seeking to engrave in their hearts messages of love and hope and worth, I often hear my words as if they were not words leaving my own mouth.

Do you really believe what you're saying to them right now? Of course! Then allow these truths to be engraved on your heart too, dear one.

I am not here to be known for who I am.
I am here to make Him known for who He is.
Oh, the security of being in His arms!

In a world of measuring sticks, I so long to be a burning bush ~

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Though all the staff are followers of Christ, Connexus is not publicized as a faith-based academy. Our students come from all different family backgrounds and experiences to join Connexus with the purpose of learning English in a positive environment. But, God has been providing daily opportunities for His love to be shared in this place.

In my final class of the day we celebrated the birthday of my two eldest students (twin girls). When first arriving, they ran to me, each giving me enormous hugs. If that wasn't enough to make my day! Along with the other two girls in our class, we had a great time eating cake and exchanging gifts while still having time to complete our entire lesson. No complaints from this teacher!

This evening, shortly after classes were finished, I received a homework assignment from one of the birthday-girls and just had to share it:

'Today is my birthday. So my friends give me a presents. I like that so much. And I went to the connexous. Kate teacher, Sally and Allie gave me a present. That was 2 notebook and 3 pens. I like that very much! My best time today was in connexous and night in our house!! I think you would want to go to your home. I will pray instead for you! "Please Kate teacher's family don't became not healthy. Please Kate teacher's parents, sisters and brother became healthy!" Bye!!'

~ A-very-encouraged-and-thankful-Kate-Teacher

Monday, October 21, 2013


On Sunday, we joined together celebrating a traditional North American Thanksgiving (a month early for me, but a week late for our Canadian teachers!). Here are a few snapshots from our amazing evening:

The beautiful sunset I had a chance to see on the way to dinner. (I love having these mountains right out my front door!)

The lovely new apartments where our community will soon unite.

Gathering with 40 people from all over the world - new friends and old - sharing what we are thankful for.

The many hands who prepared all the incredible food!

Watching generations of those committed to serving the Lord.

Thankful that I did not get sick downing this whole plate of food.

Sharing stories and laughter...

...and great pie.

With friends who welcome you in like family.

So much to be thankful for ~

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall At Last

While I love the summer sunshine, there is just something so incredibly delightful about crisp, overcast fall days. As I walked to work this morning and ran errands this afternoon, I could not wipe the smile off my face as I drank in the autumn. This sweater-wearing, hue-changing, tea-drinking season never ceases to warm my heart. There's something inside of me that longs for a "bouquet of newly sharpened pencils." (You've Got Mail - a fall must-see everyone!)

Some days I feel so distracted. In the writing of this post, I also wrote a lesson plan, graded a pile of homework, sent a few emails, bought a cake (no, I did not eat it, too ;), and mailed a postcard. Oh my. On days like this when I find it difficult to just sit down and type, I revert to pictures. So here are just a few happy things from this last week:

I got to see this artist perfecting the finishing touches on his murals at Dosim Station. He even painted in the rain. So talented!

Friday after work, Anna and I went to the night market with my students and their families. We ate amazing food, played carnival games, and laughed a lot. They are some of the most generous people I have ever met! 

Thoroughly enjoyed an abundance of persimmons in our house!

Abby and I discovered a new restaurant and coffee shop near home. Will definitely be going to both again soon!! 

 Went to the Zandari music festival with a group of friends. It was so much fun!! I love that good music can always be enjoyed, regardless of language.

Take time today to enjoy the small things!


Monday, October 7, 2013

A Bubble Tea Breakdown

What a full week it was! Outside of teaching, we had an incredible staff retreat in Puncheon with time together, soaking in the beautiful country quietness and learning more about Restorative Justice. On the weekend some friends and I partnered with Justice for North Korea in a 5k run to raise awareness for refugees who are journeying to Seoul.

Friday morning, I asked God to show me new ways to love people.  Had I known His response prior to my request, perhaps I would have prayed a slightly different prayer. But I didn't. And I am glad of that, now. He has been on this kick of stripping me clean of my pride, so this is how He answered:

Abby's computer broke last week, which is a super bummer. I wanted to buy her something to get through the day so off I went up and down our street until I found a place that seemed to have good bubble tea. But, when I tried to order it, the woman couldn't understand me - I tried English and Korean, and then both again. Nothing but a blank stare. I felt humiliated and just completely dumb. I told her I was sorry (in Korean) and walked out of the cafe holding back the floodgates. I went for the elevator in my school's building, planning to escape to the bathroom to cool down as soon as I reached our floor, then someone tapped me on the shoulder: Sarah was just heading up too. I tried keeping the tears back so she wouldn't notice. Then the elevator opened and Abby and Heather emerged. Whew, they didn't notice. The two of them went on their way but when the elevator shut containing me, Sarah and a random Korean woman, I lost it. Then I cried and laughed simultaneously. After telling her about my excursion, Sarah determined to go back and order the tea, which we did. What a gem, that woman..

Here is what I am learning...

1. Loving is not about what I can or cannot do, but all about Him and His work in my heart.
2. I need to approach love with the sole purpose of letting go of myself and allowing Him to take over.

What a journey.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I Am Not My Hair

1. I wanted to do something that totally scared me. I've had long hair for majority of my life, why in the world would I chop it all off?? That question was the affirmation that I just needed to do it.

2. I'm in Korea for a year, what better time to branch out and do something drastic? I definitely had a lot of encouragement flowing from my community here - which got me going with this idea in the first place.

I remember meeting a girl my freshman year of university who had the most beautiful hair - color, texture, style - I have ever seen. She didn't have to do anything with it. No products. No maintenance. One day our group of friends met and her hair was gone. She said she felt she depended too much on her hair for confidence and security.  She was always so inspiring to me. No, I don't think every girl should chop off her locks just to build a firm foundation of confidence. But I do think it is good to have time away from those things that are precious to us. Maybe too precious at times. In college, my bestie and I would sing this song by India Arie, somewhat as a joke, on bad hair days. It was in my head a lot over the last few weeks of considering the change:

After some quick research, I found an amazing salon, Hair & Joy, in Hongdae - the same area as the church I've been attending. The stylists there are incredibly qualified AND speak English fairly well - a huge comfort. After church Sunday, Abby and I ventured out.  Abby was awesome - she photo-documented the whole thing and cheered me on constantly. As for the result - I love everything about it. It is low-maintenance, saving me both time and money. I no longer have to think about what to do with my hair - it now has a mind of it's own. And I am just going to embrace it for what it is!

My student's reactions today were so precious! (I had let them know last week, so it wouldn't be a total shock - their last teacher did the same thing. Must be an epidemic..)

Triston: "Fantastic!"
MinSeo: "So beautiful!"
Kipper: "More prettier than other days!"
Veronica: (journal today) "I like her hair very much and she is more prettier then long hair.  And teacher was very pretty in long hair but when she cut it is as pretty as HollyHood girl." 
And, perhaps my favorite: my blue level communicated by pointing to the calendar (September, then October, November, etc.) then ran to our weather poster and pointed to the "snow". They thought it was hilarious that I had long hair in the hot summer and now will have short hair in the cold winter. I've thought it rather ironic myself...hehe

Feeling accomplished.
Feeling lighter (quite literally).
Feeling less dependent upon things that don't truly matter.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Grace & Peace Church Retreat

 A beautiful location...

With some wonderful people...

 Eating amazing food...

Playing the most group games I've played since summer camp...hehe

 Soaking in the intriguing traditional Sunday service... 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

August Snapshots

August brought so many changes to Connexus and our community!

Annie and Anna both finished their years teaching and returned home to the U.S.  We also welcomed three new teachers - Anna, Heather and Michael! Now we are the complete second generation (so no more goodbyes for a long time, thank goodness). I could not ask for better people to work, live, and experience Korea with!

For the first couple weeks of the month, a few of my students took off from Connexus as it was their school vacation. Now all have returned, with the addition of twin girls in my highest class - Monica and Michelle. Directly after their first class, the girls' parents wanted to have a meeting about their (very high) academic expectations of their daughters, Connexus and me. Our hagwon, or academy, has characteristics very different from the others here. Our main emphasis being conversational English, we focus on developing grammar knowledge, expanding vocabulary, growing comprehension skills and building healthy, peace-filled relationships. I was really pleased with how our conversation went, and left feeling confident of what our academy stands for (whether they will allow their daughters to remain with us or not). But this class holds a special place in my heart - four girls ages is such an important time in their lives and I am looking forward to how I might be used in it!

For monitoring classroom behavior, we use a basic three-stamp system.  Each student begins class with three stamps and will end class with those stamps if they fulfill their expected responsibilities of turning in homework on time, speaking English only (especially for higher level students) and maintaining good behavior. Well, this week I was talking to my students in class, and lo and behold - a Korean word slipped out. Then they irrupted: "KATE TEACHER!!!!" Laughing almost hysterically, they ran to the white board, added my name under their names, gave me three stamps with the marker, then dramatically wiped one stamp away saying "Teacher spoke Korean!!!"  It was kind of embarrassing, but the best bonding moment yet had with that particular class.  (Should I mention the next day, it happened AGAIN?  Now, they write my name and give me stamps everyday, eagerly awaiting another slip of the tongue.) hahaha

For weeks I have delayed blogging as more and more stories and experiences were piling up. Even now it is so hard to post this knowing I've left out so many important things. haha  But, at least this is a step in the right direction of being a more faithful blogger...

Shalom, ~Kate

Friday, August 23, 2013

Yongmunsan Hike

Saturday brought an amazing break from long hours at school.  All the teachers went hiking at Yongmunsan mountain - the most challenging hike I had ever trekked. After hours of rocky incline, we reached the top in time for the clouds to part revealing this view. Goodness, it was worth it!

Nature has a way of nurturing the deepest of thoughts inside of me, and the on-top-of-the-world feeling I felt on that peak cultured those thoughts even more. I felt as if I were seeing my life from a bird's-eye view. 

Often in the recent weeks I imagine I could have written the words to Joel Ansett's song [Known and Loved]. It has been playing on repeat in my heart...  

* * * 

You’re in a place you think you know / surrounded but you feel alone
You have a place to rest your head / but not a home
Feels like you lost yourself again / sit in the silence of a friend
When you are fully known and loved / you have a home
The burden you choose to bare / keeping yourself from those who care
Problems and pride play hide and seek / you’re unaware
All of the things you keep concealed / one day are bound to be revealed
We paint a picture of ourselves that isn’t real
Feels like you lost yourself again/ sit in the silence of a friend
When you are fully known and loved / you have a home
In time / may you find / peace of mind / with me my friend
* * * 
Yes, I am in a new part of the world seeing new things, eating new food, growing into a new job, and while I miss home, technology has made communication so accessible. At any given point of the day or night, I can skype, email, facebook or text and be guaranteed to reach someone from where I call home. But what do I miss the most? 
Being known.
To know a person's name, where they are from, what they do - those things are only a shallow beginning.  I miss my heart being known, instead of feeling the need to constantly explain it. As an introvert, moving alone to a foreign country was absolutely terrifying. Not because of the new sights, tastes, smells, or language - all of that excited me, and still does! But it was the daunting task of building relationships and connections from the ground up.
The Lord has reminded me that though some of the most important things to me remain in the U.S., right now my life is here. I cannot give Korea, my students, my community of roommates and fellow teachers only a piece of my heart. I need to give it all.  I have long unpacked my luggage, filling my shelves and dresser drawers.  It is time I unpack my heart and allow its roots to grow.
I do not share any of this in hopes of receiving sympathy, I came to Korea knowing this would be my biggest challenge, but I want to honestly display all of my experiences in this current chapter of my life. God has planted me in an amazing place and surrounded me with some the most incredible people I have ever met. I am not by any means giving up Skype, email, Facebook or texting, but rather I am deciding to not be so dependent upon communication with home to be my comfort and security. I am not uprooting my heart from where it is already known; I am extending it's roots to sink deeply into this new soil.
Thank you all, near and far, for faithfully encouraging me and lifting me up in prayer. God is on the move.
Shalom, ~Kate

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Finding joy in the day-to-day:

Tuesdays are journal day for homework and this week I told a student she could write absolutely anything - the only requirement being that the entry must be seven sentences. This is the completed masterpiece I received in response:

8/6/2013 - I will send letter to my tearcher Kate.
To. my forever teacher Kate

Hi! I'm Veronica.
I am so happy because I have very good teacher.
When I didn't saw you, I wonder is she scary, always happy, very good teacher.
And you are very good teacher.
When it was first class I was be at a loss for a word.
But I talk with you long time so I became friendly.
I think you will be my forever teacher ever.^^

Form. your student Veronica

While teaching in Korea is my job right now, I see it as much more than a cultural experience or something to build my 
résumé.  Praying that God will show me how to teach well so that maybe, one day, knowing English will draw these precious children to Him ~

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fan-tastic Friday

I love Friday activity days! I relish the time spent with my students simply laughing and enjoying English together. Each week's theme rotates from classroom games, to cooking, group games, and crafts. For today's craft project, we made paper fans. If you have experienced July's humidity in Korea, you understand the significance of these cute yet essential creations.  My classes were small today, as many of the students started summer vacation in the last few days. They have off for a few weeks, and were very envious to hear how much free time kids in America have during the summer months. hehe

Here are a few shots of our day! (Courtesy of my iPod - I, yet again, left my memory card in my computer at home. haha)

Here is my fresh-out-of-phonics class! They are are each
so unique in personality 
but seem to be learning quickly 
(and are as cute as can be).

Here is Allie, one of my highest leveled students. She actually lived in the U.S. with her family for a short time when she was younger.
She and her classmate Sally are always a highlight of my day!

 I could blame the mess on the kiddos...but this is exactly what my table looks like every time I stamp or scrapbook.
I mean, the mess is half of the fun, right?

My weekend agenda:
- The daunting task of writing report cards
- Begin shifting living space to make room for new teachers!
- Prepping for Tuesday - vacation begins!!!!!!

Shalom, ~Kate

Sunday, July 21, 2013

101 in 1001

I love lists. 

I have daily to-do lists, lists of people I need to call or write, (never ending) lists of books to read, lists of verses to memorize and situations to lift up in prayer - apparently, I have a list of all my lists, too. hehe  The actions of both writing and rereading lists helps me stay focused and get things accomplished. They help me to prioritize and remind me to consider what is truly important.

This week I discovered a project called 101 in 1001. It started with an online community, but I am pursuing my project independently. 101 goals within 1001 days - that is 2.75 years.  Of the 101, I have written about 30.  I want to have some goals that will carry over my year in Korea, bridging life from here to home, and wherever I will go next. Some to-dos are pretty sort and simple, some will take time and hard work. Some require saving money, some require spending. But after talking with a friend about this project,  I was convicted to make my goals as purposeful as possible. Sometimes I find myself  spending more time thinking about ways people can love me than I do thinking about ways I can invest in people by loving them more. I want each of my goals to somehow be connected to enriching the live of another and to reflecting the light of Christ.  The more life I experience, the more I come to realize how unfulfilling it is to live for myself.

The chorus of a favorite Jenny & Tyler song, Do Not Follow Your Heart, has been on my mind constantly the last few days while beginning to write my 101 in 1001:

Do not follow your heart
If it means you're going to settle when you know there's something better now
You'll be falling apart
Don't you keep holding the lesser when you know it's going to let you down
You are leaving your mark
What you want them to remember when you're gone and can't pretend anymore
What you've loved and you've lived for ~

With those words in mind, the following list serves as a preview of the full project that is to come: 101 goals in 1001 days. Though some goals seem pretty simple or self-seeking, I am adding to the challenge that each task be somehow connected to encouraging, inspiring, enlightening or blessing those whom God has placed in my reach. For some goals, this will require much creativity.  But if I am going to do this, I want to do it the right way. 

  1. Finish a baby quilt
  2. Open an Etsy shop 
  3. Plan a “1st sleepover” with my nieces
  4. Read the complete works of Jane Austen (0/6)
  5. Send flowers to someone who needs a pick-me-up
  6. Memorize the book of 1 Peter
  7. Learn how to play Chess
  8. Teach someone a new skill
  9. Learn the art of book-binding…and share!
  10. Set aside time to seek out and build relationships in my community
  11. Take a palates/yoga class
  12. Research counseling masters programs country-wide
  13. Sew 5 new items of clothing (0/5)
  14. Pick 5 months to pay double on student loan payments (0/5)
  15. Take a local “just-for-fun” course to learn a new skill (swing dancing/ glassblowing/baking)
  16. Host a chocolate-tasting party
  17. Run a 5k for a good cause (because I think that’d be the only thing that would motivate me)
  18. Mentor a middle school girl(s) after school each week for a semester
  19. One month dairy/meat/gluten-free
  20. Build something (wood and power tools to be used)
  21. Day trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.
  22. Pick local fruit to can
  23. Go on a multi-day-long hiking trip
  24. Grow a plant from seed
Please feel free to comment thoughts or ideas! I would love some feedback.

Shalom, ~Kate

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Week Recap

It's raining outside, as it has everyday this week. But unlike every other day, I have nowhere to be. What an incredible feeling! Though humid, the rain carries a cool breeze through the apartment, which is so refreshing. I have spent the day catching up on my favorite blogs, flipping through a great read and dreaming of potential ministry opportunities here in Korea. What a prefect day.

A quick week-recap:

1. I have a new niece - Lillian Grace was born Saturday, July 6th. She is 6lb 11oz of beautiful! 

2. I got my first mail from home!!! Those who know me well know just how exciting that really is (I had to refrain from using 10 exclamation points above, haha).

3. As a extension of orientation, I was observed one class everyday by Karen, the head teacher at Connexus. Her thoughts and advice were very insightful and tangible. I am learning so much about the kind of teacher I am and want to become. Which is exciting!

4. Since we have a constant stock of bananas at home, I made banana bread two days in a row this I had missed baking! 

5. This weekend was our staff retreat. Even though most of us already live together, it was refreshing just to have some new scenery!  We stayed in two condos in Yangpyeong, playing some intense games of Dutch Blizt and 4-in-a-line and eating more food than necessary. Saturday we rode rail bikes; sadly I didn't take pictures because the fear rain.. Which, as any other time I decide to leave my camera behind, I soon after regretted.

I cannot believe I am about to enter week 3 of teaching. The time is flying, and I plan to make the most of it!

Shalom, ~Kate

Monday, July 8, 2013

First Week of Teaching

My first week completely flew.  Preparing lessons each day took me so long, as I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to type, print, copy or grade anything. hehe. It is a hard perspective sometimes, but I am trying to see my effectiveness as a progress, rather than current lack of perfect!

Here is a very basic idea of what a day looks like in the life of a Connexus teacher. I will fill in with more details later...but I'm afraid this post will be far too boring and straightforward as is ;)


9:30-10:30am ~ Head to the office 
Not all the teachers and staff leave at same time, so transportation varies. I like walking, but it has been so hot and rainy, the 20 minute walk is just not appealing! Sometimes we ride in one of the staff vehicles, sometimes the bus. Public transportation is fairly easy and an inexpensive option.

10:30-1pm ~ Preparing for the day
This time at the office is good for planning, making copies, grading, or Skyping home (the internet is clearer there than at the apartment).

12:30 or 1pm ~ Lunch
In pairs, were are each assigned a day to make lunch for everyone at the office. We make American food or Korean - it's all good. Fridays Annie and I cook together.

2:30-3:20 ~ My 1st class 
Yu-Na (9), Martin (8), Joy (11) & Judy (8)*
This class of 4 students just graduated from Phonics and is my lowest level. I have to use lots of expression and pictures. They can answer basic questions such as "How are you?" or "What is your favorite color?" but cannot answer why questions. They like to move (as do I), so I try to incorporate activities that get them on their feet.

3:30-4:20 ~ My 2nd class 
YeEun (9), Lucy (8), Eileen (8) & Simba (9)
This class of 4 is 6 units ahead of the previous. They are more confident and open to trying new things in regards to English. They love telling stories, and I love listening...but sometimes have to put a time limit on it, especially for Lucy - the girl loves to talk. It's a great "problem" to have. Plus, how many people can say they teach a child named Simba?? hehe

4:30-5:20 ~ My 3rd class 
Carl (10), Triston (12), Si-Yeon (11) & Min-Seo (10)
This class is in the next level.  Their English - reading, writing, speaking and comprehension - is much higher than the first two.  Sometimes in conversation I forget they are still only level green (the second level) and ask questions that I afterward have to rephrase because the questions are too difficult. But it is easy to realize when this happens, as all I have to do is look at the four blank stares that are before me. hehe They are sweet and very well-behaved. 

5:30-6:20 ~ My 4th class 
Veronica (9) & Kipper (9)
This is the highest class I teach. Beginning next month, I will need to create the Storybook curriculum** for this level (two lesson plans a week). These two are so sweet and energetic. I am often surprised at the deep thoughts they are able to express.

6:30-7:20 ~ My 5th class 
Allie (11) & Sally (11)
These girls are absolute angels.  We have really connected and they share a lot with me. Though they are the same level as Veronica and Kipper, they are two years older and can express themselves well. They love hearing about life in the United States and how it is different from Korea.

7:20 ~ Head home!
It is like a mad dash out the door. We are all so eager to leave and pretty hungry by this point of the evening.. Once home, we don the PJs and grab some food (we'll sometimes pick something up on the way home).  Evenings are usually very relaxed - reading, watching movies on the projector, blogging, eating and just hanging out.

* Age is measured differently in Korea - I have included the Korean age of each student, but according to age in the West, they are all one or two years younger then what you see here.

**We use two curriculum: Storybook on Mondays and Thursdays, Backpack Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Fridays are activity days, which we rotate each week between classroom games, cooking, crafts and group games. It is so nice to have this time simply focused on building relationships with our students and giving them opportunities to really enjoy English. 


Biggest lesson of the week: 
Children are such humble learners. I want to be this way, too! 
The more I am able to humble myself to learn, 
the better teacher I will become. 

Up for the challenge. 

Shalom, ~Kate

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Power of Words

When you open your journal to write about your first day of
teaching and find a note a dear friend had hidden over a year ago..

When after only a day of teaching one of your students writes this for his homework...

So thankful for this reminder from the Word!

Make an effort to share kind words today.  I assure you, your work is not in vain.

Shalom, ~Kate

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Kate Teacher" - First Day on the Job

First day of teaching is finally complete. I have been waiting so long for this!  While nerves were absolutely present the last few days, today I was just ready to get things rolling.  Since we use two different curriculum, one on Mondays and Thursdays, and the other Tuesdays and Wednesdays, tomorrow will be yet another new adventure. But now, knowing my students so much more than last week of observations, I have assurance that I am prepared.

I cannot tell you that my students learned a thing today, but goodness, did I!  I decided as I anticipated this day, that my goals were to be flexible and to love well.  I would like to think those goals were reached, and their fruit being far above any academic achievement.  While no five of my lesson plans were taught quite as I intended, I learned the things I need to work on and the actions and attitudes I must strive to continue.

This conversations nearly brought me to tears, serving as a reminder why I am here. It went like this...

(when my class of two settled in their seats)
Me: "How are you today?"
Students: "We are happy...and excited!"
Me: "Wow, really? Why are you both happy and excited?"
Students: "Because you are our teacher!"

Yes, I almost lost it. How can I possibly teach these incredible children all they need to know?!  Maybe it's not about what I can do though.  Honestly, I hope there is much more to this journey than that.

Here are a few pictures to sum up my day. I hope you enjoy!


Here is my classroom. I love the blue walls and teal chairs - such a happy-looking place!

Two of my highest-leveled students. The girl on the left brought us all milkshakes...
Did I mention I have awesome students??

Rough picture, since I set the camera to timer on my makeshift tripod
(ie. a swivel chair on top of the table)..but I wanted one from my first day. haha

Shalom, ~Kate

Friday, June 28, 2013

Come Walk With Me

I have been walking to work everyday. The walk is so peaceful, with beautiful scenery and stillness - the perfect start to my day.  (Not to mention good exercise too...with all this food I have been eating...yikes!) It only takes about 15-20 minutes from home to the office where we teach.  During the seasonal extremes - rainy season (which we are entering), the heat of August, and the bitter winter months - I will have to use alternative transportation.  

So I am taking advantage of this beautiful trek for as long as possible. 


I start with the hill, right outside my apartment. Sturdy shoes would be a good choice, especially for this part of the trip...but it's hot so I decide on flimsy sandals instead.
You win some, you lose some.

This is the view behind me - where country meets city.
I really love this tree!

Along the way, I scan the bushes for newly ripened berries.
They are delicious and (so far) not poisonous...

I look over my shoulder and see home - where the Connexus community (with the exception of a few) lives on the 4th floor. We also get to take advantage of the rooftop!

These little "daises" grow everywhere - they are just so sweet! 

The view from the top of the path - these steps are slippery after the rain!
So today I hold on to the rope..

At the bottom, I fill my water bottle with fresh spring water.
I am starting to get hot with my jeans and heavy backpack!

An elderly Korean man greets me with a smile and a very clear English:
"Have a nice day!"
I return the greeting and smile ear to ear at his gesture.  I cannot wait to learn more Korean so I can make someone's day by a simple attempt to greet them in their native tongue.

Every Friday there is an open market along the street.  They are just setting up!

Here is where we work. Yes, we share a building with Dunkin' Donuts.
(And no, I do NOT eat there everyday ;))

5th floor of JoongAng Plaza!

And now, ready for a great day! 
(Sorry a little blurry!)

Shalom, ~Kate