Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photo Tour of Japan

A few shots in Hiroshima

Peace Park

Children's memorial (made up of folded cranes)

Hiroshima Castle

A few pics in Fukoka
Canal City

Botanical Gardens

To see my facebook album, follow this link:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Things not lost in translation

Today I went to the Peace Park and Memorial Museum in Hiroshima. While there have been many details that I have missed on this trip because I do not speak the language, there were other things I experienced today that needed no words. For example, no words were needed to comprehend the horror that faced all those in Hiroshima that dreaded day. Images, documentaries, and movies traced the despair and destruction that thousands of people faced when the US dropped the atomic bomb. Looking at the charred bodies of victims with skin peeling, the outlines of bodies vaporized by the blasts, and twisted building remains... those images alone were enough to convict me that war is never worth the cost.

Again I was struck that emotions can transcend language in an interaction in a deserted gallery room. After looking through the entire museum with my 7 friends, I went downstairs to look in 2 galleries that were not a part of the main building. Both rooms were empty except for an old Japanese man. The two of us walked around, looking at photographs of the destruction and examining artifacts from the disaster. After a bit I stumbled across two newspapers-- one from NY, one from Britain. Both described the dropping of the atomic bomb. As I read the two descriptions that referred to the A bomb as "a giant golf-ball" and "a victory," I was overcome with emotion. I could not stop the tears from flowing as I realized how easy it was to minimize the suffering of others. As I stood in front of this display, silently weeping, the old Japanese man walked up to me. He looked at me straight in the eyes and quietly spoke. I have no idea what he told me, but I know he spoke of peace. All I could muster up was a meager, "I'm sorry." But I know I did not even need that. In the moment our eyes locked I knew, despite the language barrier, that both of us were committed to doing whatever we can to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring ever again.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Belated CA pics

A few pics I never posted from my time in CA. Only 2 weeks delayed (I have to beat my next trip!)

New Year's Eve with a few friends from high school and others at Kasey's

LHS mini-reunion

Hike with Peter in the Saratoga mountains-- pretty views of the Bay Area

Dinner with the grandparents! ALWAYS a great time :)

Santa Cruz beach day, my how I love this town

(notice Peter's newly shaved head-- 2 bored siblings= no more hair) posing on a throne built daily by a Native American local

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

American at heart

It’s 2:25 am. I’m sitting on my apartment’s heated floor watching a fuzzy Korean news channel, the only live showing of the inauguration that I can find. My new president is speaking with composure and passion and a healthy dose of idealism. Every single line Obama speaks is immediately echoed by a Korean woman’s translation. Even as I strain to hear the English through its Korean counterparts, I can tell that Obama’s words preach ideals that many people long for. Now let's hope that Obama can meet our insanely high expectations set for him. I’m praying that this man can truly lead our nation to do great things both in our country and around the world. There is so much we can and must do as a nation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Already plotting...

I just have to say, life here is great. I have only taught 4 days since my last vacation, and I am already almost half way to my next! Exactly 9 days from now I will be on a ferry to Fukoka, Japan. Then, along with 7 friends, I will be heading up to Hiroshima to explore and relax for our 5 day lunar holiday. We have clearly worked SO very hard since our last break that a vacation is highly neccessary.

I love working at an international school!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Breaking it down...

Is it a bad sign that during the second block of the semester, my A block started class with a dance off? No kidding. I was writing the class assignments on the board before the bell when suddenly a new student was break dancing in the middle of the room and my whole class was chanting in a ring. Pretty soon they were calling out for other students to jump in and challenge the new guy. Clearly, I have a calm mature class on my hands  Well, at least I have enough energy in my classroom to fuel a refrigerator and a clothes dryer (did you know that these two appliances use the most energy in American households?).

Teaching is never the same two days in a row!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What has California done to me?

Despite the fact that it snowed several inches yesterday, this morning I walked to church with no scarf, no hat, no gloves, and no socks. At least I had a coat on... but what has California (or maybe jetlag) done to my understanding of winter?

I'm going to have to quickly readjust my clothing choices.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Top 10 of 2008

In honor of New Year’s, a few top 10 lists to highlight the ups and downs of the year:

Top 10 Things I’m proud of myself for doing in 2008:

10. Going on my 7th house-building trip (to The Philippines)
9. Feeling comfortable in my community in Korea and finding my niche
8. Hiking Mt. Fuji
7. Finishing my first year of full time teaching
6. I no longer have to repeat myself for a taxi driver a million times before he understands my Korean—most of the time, once is enough
5. Jumping 12,000 ft. out of a plane when I am a) uneasy on planes and b) afraid of heights
4. Understanding global issues better and trying to not just learn about them, but act
3. Coaching soccer and encouraging the girls to improve, bit by bit
2. Traveling alone to 5 countries
1. Deepening my faith and pushing myself outside my comfort zone

Top 10 Things I’ve learned in 2008:

10. All the lingo associated with International Baccalaureate (IBO) and the million and one acronyms used by staff at my school
9. How to play volleyball with my hands (I no longer serve with my feet!)
8. I can now speak a bit more Korean (thanks to Annette)
7. Basic techniques of drawing and painting (also thanks to Annette and her willingness to let me join her high school class)
6. That I’m highly prone to caffeine addictions
5. That Canada is a lot more interesting and cool than I thought it was before working with so many Canadians
4. That North Koreans should be helped, not feared
3. That I am outgoing enough to solo travel
2. Human trafficking is a very real issue and I need to find ways to help fight against it
1. There is SO much that I do not know or understand

Top 10 challenges in 2008:

10. Time or lack thereof—so many things I want to do in a day!
9. A lot of really long flights (I spent well over 80 hours in the air this year!)
8. Calling people in different time zones—there’s a 17 hour difference during the winter!
7. Cooking in a small space with different availability of ingredients
6. Adjusting to my new community in Korea (this has been a continuous process since I moved)
5. Learning to collaborate with such a wide range of people
4. A complete lack of single males in my community (why do I always seem to end up in programs or places with WAY more single females than single males?)
3. Very limited visiting time to the States
2. Communication—Korean is a really difficult language
1. Being so far away from people I love

Top 10 Strangest things I’ve done/seen in 2008:

10. dragged about 10 people to sled down a baby bunny hill for numerous hours for my 25th birthday (in my defense, I had no idea the hill was going to be so small)
9. worked at a school where it is totally normal for my students to call my personal cell, leave me facebook messages, and stay at my apartment when the dorms close
8. hiked a massive Korean mountain in the middle of the night
7. hung out naked with a bunch of coworkers at jimjilbangs on a regular basis
6. ate a scorpion, seahorse, and roach in a street market in China and snake in Taiwan
5. friended my mom on facebook 
4. got body slammed by a Buddhist monk trying to get on the subway in Seoul
3. skydived in New Zealand
2. interacted with kids in the Philippines who had been rescued from child trafficking
1. spooned with a full grown tiger in Thailand

For 2009, the top 10 things I would like to accomplish:

10. Learn to cook some Korean food
9. Find a boy (what single straight female honestly doesn’t want this?)
8. Visit a region of the world I have never traveled to (South America? Africa? The Middle East?)
7. Speak and understand Korean better
6. Continue to work on finding balance in my life (as you well know, I always try to put too much on my plate)
5. Eat and live in a healthier manner
4. Do a better job keeping a Sabbath day
3. Learn how to best use my talents and resources to fight human trafficking
2. Continue to grow (spiritually, emotionally, professionally)
1. Maintain close relationships with the people I care about (even when they are thousands of miles away)