Friday, April 13, 2012

What's in a Name?

March marked the beginning of a new school year for me, and boy, am I loving it! My students are precious and my co-teachers are, overall, very helpful. That's not to say there are never problems, but I love my job.

With the beginning of the new school year came a funny sort of challenge - giving my students English names. As I arrived late in the last school year, there wasn't much I could do at the time about 'Potato', 'Tomato', 'Lady Gaga', and 'Blue Kimchi', to give you a taste of some of the 'English names' I was told. I'm aware that naming is hard - 10-15 names in, and you're resorting to re-using that one name you kind of like, and then you realize, wait, I have 500 students to go... So I came up with an idea - I combed through to find names I could endorse, and made lists of Boys and Girls names. Then I whittled each list down to 200 of each. I wrote each name (and a Korean pronunciation guide - by yours truly) on a separate Post-It, giving me a total of 4 blocks of 100-name Post-Its (color-coded, even! Blue for Boys, Pink for Girls). Then I put up a 5x6 square(rectangle) of Pink and Blue names (so 2 rectangles) for the children to pick from when they came in. I greeted them at the door with a handshake and 'What is your English name?' A number were re-routed to the board as they answered with 'Um...' or an outlandish name... Bunny, the boy, is now Abraham (and boy, does he have a talent for drawing!), Tomato is Jonah, and he's still a lively chap. (I used up about 150 of each kind of name.)

In the intro class, I also had the students fill out an index card with their English and Korean names, as well as a few facts about them. I keep these cards filed by class, and whip them out every class to call on the students (I make them read and answer questions... the horror!), which is helping me pair names and faces.

I had a lot of fun choosing my lists of names. I'm still enjoying that Reuben and Levi are in the same class, that there's a class with Jacob, Isaac, and Samson, and that if Clark and Kent took on Alexei and Luther, I'd have Superman battling his arch nemesis. Oh, and there's Royal, who's family name is Wang (King). I love that one.

What's in a name? A Korean child by any other name is yet Korean, but that other name sure does help this teacher have fun and get to know each individual student.

Signing off,
Miss Chatters

PS I'll hopefully get back to the travelogue in my next post...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Globe Trotting

Yesterday morning, I returned home from the last leg of my amazing holiday! In 18 days, I spent a week each in Japan and the Philippines, with a couple short visits to Macau and a few days at home in between. Now, it's back to work, but I'm feeling refreshed, if not completely rested.

My first trip took me to Okinawa, where a college friend lives with his wife (they're practically family). He's stationed there with the USMC (Which does not stand for US Military, as the Japanese immigration authorities thought, but United States Marine Corps.). Although Oki is a subtropical island, it was definitely their winter weather, with chilly temps and drizzle for most of the visit. We did get one blessedly sunny morning/afternoon, which was providentially the day we went to the beach, for which I was thankful. The couple I was visiting is expecting a baby, and I was privileged to be present at an ultrasound. Wow. It was amazing to hear the baby's heartbeat and see it moving on the screen.

I ate a lot of delicious Japanese food, and one of my favorite things was the ramen egg - a marinated boiled egg with a luscious, jelly-like yolk. Yum!!! I also enjoyed soba, udon, donburi, and some sushi! I came to the conclusion that Japanese food is great. Yep. Pretty much.

Unfortunately for my adventurous palate, the won-to-yen rate wasn't terribly friendly... I've had to learn the hard lesson that the won, no matter how stable and trustworthy, isn't respected in other countries... So sad.

I did a lot of shopping in Japan, mostly looking around in touristy stores at nearly-identical contents... the best shops, I think, are the ones with candy - lots and lots of different candy! One store my friend showed me had a wide variety of salts, which was very cool!! I brought home some green tea, hibiscus, and melon salts, as well as some coarse salt. At that store, I also tried salty ice cream. It was good!! You were able to add different flavor salts to create unique creamy tastes. I also got to do a bit of shopping at a commissary, and picked up some great American favorites, including grits, nutty buddies, and pork rinds! At the Japanese grocery store, I picked up rice seasonings, instant ramen, and amazing pink ginger (closer to scarlet than pink...). I also found some cute stationery (a must in every Asian country, seriously!), and now I need to purpose to do something with all the stationery I'm stockpiling... (One of my primary ideas is to make birthday notes for all my students... We'll see if I follow through with it...)

Next time, I will write about the Philippines and Macau, perhaps Macau will get its own post!

Signing off until then!
Miss Chatters