June 27, 2011

K-pop Cover Song Competition

If you're interested in winning a free trip to Korea, now is your chance. All you need to do is make a video covering a K-pop song.

For more information, check out the site. Click "Participation," and it will walk you through the steps to apply and submit a video!

If nothing else, check out the site's hilarious videos.

June 20, 2011

Volunteering in Daegu

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For more information on volunteering in Daegu or Korea in general, please click this link to be redirected!

For those of you who may be unaware, finding volunteer opportunities in Korea is not always an easy task. I've discovered a few big issues : there are few programs that have coordinators willing to work with those who don't speak Korean, some organizations push a political or religious agenda that would make volunteering less enjoyable, and other times there are so many teachers looking to volunteer, there isn't enough positions open.

Needless to say, I wasn't really thinking I would find an organization to volunteer for. Lucky for me, Corinne had a set weekend every month that she volunteered, and started including when I first arrived. As Corinne has left Korea, I've been able to invite more friends and introduce more people to a side of my life in Korea not often on display.

I volunteer with an "orphanage" in Daegu. I use quotation marks, because it isn't what a majority of Americans would imagine - most of the children still have parents and many still spend afternoons with those parents. From my understanding, this is not unusual in Korea.

I go once a month, and always bring my camera. However, I have not posted any of these pictures before. For the privacy of the children, I am not posting any pictures of their faces. Special permission has been granted for these selected pictures, because I feel like this blog post will show a side of my life here that I haven't shared before. Its a vital, special time in my month, and I hope everyone appreciates these pictures as much as I do.

They teach me a lot of things, such as traditional Korean games. Generally, I lose.

Volunteering here would be impossible without the Suseong-gu's Government Office Volunteers. They pick us up, drop us off, translate for us and the kids, and help us in so many ways.

Most of the times I have been, I went with Shelley and Corinne.

The girls like to draw pictures and color. This is a portrait of me done by one of the students.

The girls are much more shy around me, because I usually work with the boys. Because of this, I have a lot more pictures without the girls faces, hah.

Laura has come the last two months with us.

Shelley learning how to skate board - the students can be excellent teachers. Corinne playing catch.

Jenga is my favorite game, because it easily becomes dominos, blocks, and bowling pins.

The kids *love* to take pictures. I let them use my camera if the strap is around their neck, and some of them are pretty great. This is a shot one of the kids took of me. Generally, they take pictures of each other posing with funny faces, so those didn't make the privacy rules.

Some of the kids are tiny little babies. They're pretty adorable, and give a nice break from the soccer games.

The boys are all very into Legos. They can follow the diagrams and build the models - even with English directions.

We play outside on bikes and cars. Some days we play on the playground.

Of course, they are really into Pokemon.

Laura brought her frisbee. The younger kids mostly rolled it, but had fun anyway.

More Jenga creations, building towers to the sky.

One week my friend Jose donated a ton of toys to the kids. I felt like Santa Claus. They were thrilled!

On some special days, we get to play with the boys and girls together, which is a whole new dynamic and tons of fun.

Volunteering here is fantastic. I really can't describe how great it is to just play with the kids - no lesson plans or educational goals. I love teaching and filling that role, but when I miss my cousins and life back in the US, I miss the fun babysitter role. This is an entirely different experience than teaching, and its a great break from the responsible adult role. I won't be able to see the kids again before I leave for the States, but plan on returning monthly when I come back to Korea. They're one more reason that Daegu is truly my home, that I feel like my life is here.

June 9, 2011

Busan Sandcastle Festival and Geoje-do

This Monday was a holiday, so Chris and I went on a trip for the long weekend. First, we went to Busan for the annual sandcastle festival. Here are some of the memorable contest entries...

Geoje Island is beautiful. There are black pebble beaches and giant hills covered in deciduous forests. I'm really glad we went.

We ate some very authentic Korean seafood. This seemed to mean fish cut in half and grilled: lots of bones and scales. Chris loved it, and I did my best to ignore the fishy parts hah.

The black pebbles were perfect shapes and sizes for skipping stones.

The next morning we tried to go on a boat tour, but it was sold out. We opted for "Artland" to see the natural rock formation and traditional Korean art.

For some reason, phallic objects are traditional Korean symbols in art.

We saw some pretty lakes with duck boats.

Next we hiked up to a waterfall.

It was an excellent weekend, and I think I will go back to Geoje-do again.

June 1, 2011

Samsung Lions

This past weekend Rui and I went to a local baseball game. Before it even started, I was hit in the side with a fly-away practice ball. There were VERY minimal nets up to protect the fans; this is another example of Korea's different safety standards. Don't worry, mom, I turned out to be just fine.

Tickets were super cheap, but if you wanted to get in, you had to get there super early.

The mascot, and a close up of one of the players' names in Korean.

It was packed! People were sitting on staircases and in aisles - which made me think of their lax fire and safety regulations...

Samsung Lions won the game, 3-2.

Cards I drew and sent out for Buddha's birthday.

Cards people sent me that I cut up and used to create tiny notebooks with. Here is the car and the oragami paper I cut to fit.

Then I hand stitched the pages into the cardstock. Easy as that.