Thursday, October 25, 2007

taekwon anyone?

some thoughts I've had on learning martial arts and learning more about myself in the process ... my Korean teacher told me recently that taking taekwondo is a great investment for me into the Korean culture ... for several reasons but namely because it was invented here in Korea and also for the reason she told me the formation and process of it represents the national Korean character ... and this I can see is true looking at the various patterns we must learn to advance further and further are named after founding individuals and various beliefs held by the collective Korean mindset.

But the thing I like, aside from the "fighting" aspect of it is that it promotes inner strength before the outer strength ... that truly you can have the outer strength but if you have no inner fortitude then you are still weak. This has been an interesting revelation to me simply because it seems so opposite in the "natural" world of things and objects and muscles and so-called "tough guys." It is not the outer strength that defines a person but what they possess inwardly.

As often as I do I think of home and I wonder and ponder what things help form the American mindset and "inner strength" that seems very widespread in the Asian cultures. What are the things the define my friends and families' mindset? Where do we truly get our strength from? Is it our jobs? Our education? Our friends? Our family? Our various beliefs and religions? I could go on and on I'm sure ... Just thoughts I guess and intriguing questions ...

I would love to hear what you feel helps define our national character?

ps: I haven't been able to post any nice fall pics I said I had taken I think because I need to size them down a bit, they take a really long time to load ... sorry!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

and now the negative ...

I wanted to share a couple of experiences I had that weren't exactly pleasant ... I realize that most of posts I have usually have something positive and unique that happen to me over here. Well I want to take a more balanced approach to this blog-writing thing so I figure I'll share a couple of instances, however brief, that have helped to define my experience here as one that has been "interesting."

Let me say this first, this has only happened twice and I've almost been here 3 months so I don't want my family to worry or think twice about my safety here. For my countless hours here a grand total of about 30 minutes have been unpleasant but nonetheless I will share those 30 akward moments with you all.

After leaving taekwondo, on both occasions, I had the luck of running into a few intoxicated older Korean men who felt either bold or just arrogant enough to try their English speaking skills on unsuspecting-John. For me, this is at the end of a long and trying day of teaching and then working out. I'm usually in a fairly friendly mood so I'll say "hello" in Korean if they say hello to me. At any rate, the first encounter wasn't bad other than the smell of alcohol and the rough and broken English and several akward moments in the elevator. The second however is another story. This guy stops me in the street as I'm walking to my bike and wants to shake my hand. So I say "hello" and he grabs my hand hardily and shakes it and then proceeds to hold on to it for the next 20 minutes or so. This was a bit strange but I know the Korean culture is all about touching and being close so I thought a little hand holding was a bit strange but I was close to my bike and knew if things got out of hand I could easily do something about it. All this guy knew in English was "nice to meet you," "you are handsome," and "you are friend." In truth I knew about as much Korean ... I told him I was an American and teaching English in Daejeon and that it was nice to meet him too. After about 10 minutes of the going-no-where conversation I wanted to leave and this guy wouldn't have it ... I could decipher if he wanted me to have a drink with him or if he wanted me to hang out with him back at his place or to go meet his sister ... I had no idea what he was getting at. Then he seemed to get pissed because I was giving him the cold-shoulder and walking away, keep in mind we are still in contact or he is still holding on to some part of me like my arm or my jacket. Then he proceeds to pull his finger out in a gun-type position and act like he wants to shoot me. In hindsight, at this point I should have just broke his arm and walked away but regardless lesson learned right? In the end, a Korean who was standing near enough to see what was going on just told me to leave and I complied. As I'm leaving he yells something like "little brother" or maybe another curse at me and I go off into the night without his and releaved.

So ... what did I learn from this? Obviously not everyone is friendly to foriegners, espeically when they are drunk and that I shouldn't be afraid to walk away, forcefully if necessary, when I come across someone who wants to "talk" to me and carry on about nothing at all. So a good lesson for sure! But not to worry, I'm a white belt in taekwondo! haha.

peace and grace to you!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall in Daejeon

here are some pics I've taken with my new sweet camera ... I love it. Today was great ... no work, cool weather, all the time in the world ... nothing to do but look for something beautiful and take a picture of it. I took a whole lot more than I could put up on the blog site, I'm sure they'll make it up sometime in the future.

There was something I didn't photograph but that made me laugh ... in the middle of the city I see this huge pile of poo ... I'm not talking just big ... I mean, I seriously considered the fact that wild bears may be roaming the streets this thing was so huge. Anyways, I restrained from photographing it and forever to my shame I'm sure ... ha! I will always be unsure what kind of animal or "human" was able to produce this kind of thing. I know ... lovely stuff right?

Ok, all is well. It's cold here, really cold. This, I suppose, is my first "real" Fall season and it's rather nice now that I've gotten used to it. It seems that I'm constantly on the hunt for some warm clothes and most all the stores haven't really yet put the winter stuff out there. Next weekend I'm going to brave it in the elements doing some hiking ... should be a good time.

Hope this blog finds you well and in good health!

Peace to you!


Saturday, October 13, 2007

my kids

here is a current picture of my kindergarten kids ... I have two classes and they are mostly 5 and 6 years old. They are all cute and some can be little monsters, as to be expected ... but I love them all and they are fun to be with. This day we went to the park to draw some pictures and play games ... I know, I know, life is so very hard over here.

My co-teacher, Sonya is in one of the pictures, she's a great teacher and helps me out alot with teaching and other various Korean things I don't understand. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 11, 2007


I know, I know ... it's been sooo very long since I've last wrote. I will not apoligize ... I was sick and I was very, very busy with work. And I'm stubborn, so that's the end of that.

The picture above ... I must give credit where credit is due ... the picture was taken by one of my fellow co-teachers Simon Nicholson who is from Scotland. He is obviously quite the photographer for those of you who enjoy ticking your eyes with pretty sights ... here is some of his work he has posted on the internet ...

So ... what's new ... well, I'm just now getting over a pretty bad flu-cold-virus-disease-coughing-fever-hot-cold ... cold ... you get the picture here. I would image I picked this up from my kids at school considering they touch everything and everyone and then come up and touch me and want me to hug them ... it's the circle of life it cannot be stopped my friends. So after my battle with the killer sickness I'm not starting to feel better and just in time for some amazing weather. It's in the 60's pretty much everyday, which is the equivilant of the Florida winters back home. Needless to say, I need to invest in a larger jacket and maybe some long underwear.

I'm still learning Korean ... I can read pretty well now so at this point I'm working on vocabulary and expanding my knowledge of grammar and basic social situations. I wowed the parents at my last parent-teacher meeting by saying "my name is John, I'm an American, it's nice to meet you." This sounds so little but trust me, it was quite a mouthful of symbols and words. Luckily, I've got so many Korean teachers backing me up that they are at all times constantly willing to correct and help me out. I should be fluent in no time! ha!

Other news ... I've given up my desire to purchase a motorcycle ... for now. ha! Kidding. I like the biking around, it gets me where I need to go and I don't have to deal with too much traffic, except the random Korean who doesn't see me and steps right in front of me. In that case the bell is useless and I have to hope in already dull brakes.

Ok, this is all for now folks ... most of the busy-ness has slowed down at school so hopefully I should be writing more in the coming weeks. I did make plans for Xmas though, Bangkok and then onto Phuket, pronouned pu-ket, yes I got a laugh out of that one too. I will take lots of great pics of the tropical paradise and send them home, do not worry! Until the next time! Grace and Peace to you!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

ha ...

I really should blog something soon ...