Teacher’s Day – South Korea

Teacher’s Day is one of my favorite Korean holidays.  Its not just the cute notes, buckets of flowers, snacks and other assorted gifts.  Sure those help but what really makes me love Teacher’s Day is the realization of how much value Koreans have for teachers.temp_1431679395167.-504624130

There is a separate holiday where the entire country devotes itself to their teachers.  You could argue that its a Hallmark holiday (and i’m sure stationary stores love it) but there’s also a Teacher’s Day song that everyone knows and the day encourages students to visit their old teachers.

Teacher's Day Assembly.

Teacher’s Day Assembly.

This year was the first year I had actual visitors in the 2 hour block our school devoted for students to reunite with their old teachers.  Our students were dismissed after lunch while we had prep time and still got out 2 hours early.  Last year’s 4th graders came by in force dropping off the cutest hand written notes you’ve ever seen. Continue reading

My students picked this picture because…

My Korean co-teacher came up to me and asked if it was okay for the students to show me pictures.  I heard him using my name in class and then speaking Korean for the last 15 minutes but thought nothing of it.  But then they explained in English why they choose each picture specifically for me.  It was adorable and its moments like these that makes me love teaching!

yh students

Some of my favorites were:
I picked this picture because…

“You are able to teach us all day everyday” (open 24 hours)
“You love us!” (hugging polar bears)
“You teach us good things but also take away our bad things” (light & dark artistic sphere)
“You always have new ideas to help teach us” (fireworks)
“You like climbing mountains” (2 hikers)
“You have many students and like teaching” (Chinese classroom)
“You teach us and don’t care about money” (foreign currency)
“You are clean and pure.” (glass of water)
“You are perfect!” (bullseye)

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done…” – Dalai Lama XIV

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”
Dalai Lama XIV

Such a strong and incredibly true statement about life.  I love the adventures I went on yesterday (and the day,  month, year before that)  As evidenced by my perpetual Facebooking & blogging about trips but one thing is certain; without following the Dalai Lama’s advice I never would have made it on 99% of those excursions.  If I sat around thinking about what awesome things I’ve already done (climbing waterfalls, exploring caves or summiting mountains) I’d never make it to the next one.

If I spent my days daydreaming about the next big adventure my future holds (Granted I do often do this in my leisure time.  See below.) that expedition would never come to fruition.  I never would have gotten off my butt in New Jersey and moved to Seoul, explored Son Doong (the world’s largest cave) floated in the dead sea or countless other unforgettable trips.

dead sea

Floating in The Dead Sea


Son Doong, World’s Largest Cave

One of the reasons my posts have been sparse the last few weeks is I just started up a new language exchange.  Every Tuesday night from 7:30-9:00 I convince a bunch of Koreans & foreigners to sit down and chat.  We take half the time to speak in Korean and half to speak in English.  We’re up to 16 members in just 5 weeks and everyone is enjoying this FREE opportunity to learn language and bridge cultural gaps.  We’ve been negotiating contracts at my current school and its not confirmed but it looks like I’m gonna stay on board for another year, I’m even a candidate for the promotion to team leader!

That means I can’t wait to plan for my next BIG adventures (since I’ll have about 8 weeks of vacation to play with next year).  I’ll be in Shanghai for 2 days in December before returning to NJ for the holidays (December 27th. Shindig at my parents place.  Save the date!).  I’m looking forward to a warm holiday in February (Thailand’s looking pretty enticing right now) and researching a Nepal trek to the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camps for as early as next summer.  But I’m not just looking at the future I’m working TODAY to make that happen in some unforeseen tomorrow.  I’m always looking for new opportunities to a)travel and b)make some extra money (just finished a flyer for English tutoring that I’m going to have some Korean friends proofread at tonight’s exchange!)

I try to be as productive as possible and I don’t like wasting time.  Sure I take breaks, everyone needs trashy TV binges, HALO/Call Of Duty marathons, your occasional buzzfeed article or Sunday recoveries from questionable Saturday decisions.  The trick is to strive to make them the exception rather than the norm.  Budget leisure time just like you would a paycheck and you will quickly find that you are prepared for more and doing more.  You will find new opportunities to save money through a little elbow grease and I’d be surprised if you can’t put your mind towards a new opportunity for some cash flow making tomorrow’s dreams even more likely.

Yesterday is in the past, tomorrow’s in the future, so remember that “today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live!”  Whether that means learning something new, saying hello to a stranger, falling in love, calling an old friend or simply getting up and getting started you’re the one that’s in charge so do it today!

P.S. One last update for my family, friends and other followers!  I’ve been getting back into shape with a sober September, promoting men’s health for Movember by hitting the gym, sharing advice, cooking as much (and healthy) as possible and of course growing a mean ‘stache.  Can’t forget how epic Saturday night was my first 1920’s murder mystery!  (p.s happy birthday Erin!)1920's murder mystery


Korean Teacher’s Day

In Korea May 15th is national Teacher’s Day.  Typically students bring in gifts for all their teachers and write notes.  We were originally supposed to have an assembly recognizing all of us but; due to “recent sad events” that was canceled.  Some of my coworkers were even told “I wanted to bring you flowers but couldn’t because students died.”  The country is still very much in mourning regarding the Sewol Tragedy but luckily Teacher’s Day did brighten the day for many.

I had about a dozen students write adorable notes, got a bouquet, some fake flowers and a few snacks.  Most of my coworkers got a similar assortment of thanks and it truly was so nice to read all their kind words!  I love my job and love teaching but tokens of appreciation are always welcome.

So much love!

So much love!

One of my favorite letters! (from one of my best English students)

One of my favorite letters! (from one of my best English students)

A tribute to Nelson Mandela

A few of my favorites from Nelson Mandela, Madiba, the man who made a difference where it was needed most.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

In spite of all odds Nelson Mandela persevered and succeeded, making the world a better place.  Teach others to embrace their inherently good side; learn to forgive and spread love not hate!

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

The difference that one man or woman can make is profound.  Never doubt yourself, always strive for the best and you too can change the world.  At the very least you will change your world for the better.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

RIP Madiba.  Your presence on this planet will be missed but the impact you have had will never be forgotten!

What are your favorite Nelson Mandela quotes and memories?