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Foreigner Day September 18, 2010

I spent 9/11/10 at World Cup Stadium cheering on FC Seoul and eating a free hot dog and drinking a free Budweiser among 1000’s of people who weigh more than me. Perhaps this was their way of giving their condolences. “Sorry about that terrorist attack 9 years ago. Have a hotdog, on us.” Or maybe it was a brilliant trap. “Why are all these free hotdogs just sitting on this giant mouse trap?” Or perhaps the world doesn’t revolve around us and it was just a nice way to get a lot of people into an beautiful and underused stadium on a Saturday afternoon. Other than watching a sport in which only 4 points were scored in a span of 2 hours, it was down right American.

There was no bickering, no fear mongering, no political agenda being pushed. Americans overseas aren’t grouped into political view points like we are at home. We don’t roll our eyes at each other or put one another’s view points down. We are just happy to see one another. This first question when meeting expats isn’t, “What’s your name?” it’s “Where are you from?” You can have an hour long conversation with someone about their state and the things you miss from home, what college you went to, and how your team looks going into the football season and part ways and realize that you only know them as Colorado or Minnesota.

It doesn’t matter how you vote. We are missing the same food and driving laws and the sweet sound of English being spoken. I was very glad to be out of the country this year on September 11th. For one thing, it still isn’t a pleasant thing to think about, though think of it we must. Second, I was so happy to have a feeling of camaraderie among Americans. That is something that we are missing. You may not be aware because MSNBC and Fox News would have you believe that it isn’t something worth missing. You may be thinking that those who voted for the other guy aren’t worth missing, but here’s the thing, we are Americans and the rest of the world isn’t. We combine apples and cheddar, we hold open elections and have smooth transitions of power, we over eat really delicious food, we explore space, we play games with names like ‘cornhole,’ and we have the freedom to disapprove of one another. For better or for worse we are fiercely individualistic. We are Americans, all of us. If you are at home and are frustrated with the constant arguing and partisanship, be happy that the next person you see will be just as American as you are. No matter their view-point, religion, or race, there is something that we share. We are Americans, so knock it off with the fighting already.


Mind Games September 8, 2010

Filed under: Travel Blog — olgathered @ 12:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

As the puppeteer of my classroom I like to make my students dance for me. A little competition here a little reward system there a viola! We are all paying attention.

Not only are they children, so they buy my bullshit, but they aren’t American children, so my bullshit is shiny and new to them. In the first three minutes of reading class, the last class of a long, sunny, hot day, I could see that my hard workers were worn out and tried and most of all chatty. So three minutes in, I asked them if they wanted to play a game. Holy shit! Did you say game? I don’t care what it is. Sign me up for a game. We are going to play the quiet game. Had these been American kids, they would have seen right through me, but they were delighted to spend the rest of the class trying to find out who would win.

I taught my older students the ancient art of the pinky swear. A few of them were vaguely familiar with the ritual, but none knew the meaning that once a pinky swear is broken, your pinky is cut off. I made every student pinky swear that they would finish their homework this week. Just to drive the point home I told them I would be wearing a necklace made of the pinkies of those who didn’t find time to finish their assignments. I topped it off with maniacal laughter.

We’ve been reading a lot of ghosts stories lately. The ghost is my friend. The ghost is really dad. The ghost is a ghost. This has been great. We’ve learned words like afraid of, scary/scared of, and best of all spooky. This lead one of my students to say
Student: Teacher is angry. Teacher is scary
Me: You think teacher is scary?
Student (smiling): yes
Me: Who thinks Teacher is scary?
One hand goes up
Me: Only one person thinks Teacher is scary?
Students: Teacher no scary. Teacher is kind… and funny. Funny, kind Teacher.
Well shit, my cover is officially blown. Those little buggers don’t even cower  at the sight of me. What is the world coming to?


GinSing Sing September 2, 2010

Filed under: Travel Blog — olgathered @ 3:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Those little bundles of germs I call students got me sick again. That troop of little boogers gave me a head cold. Fortunately I live in the land of ginsing. In every cornermart you can pick up a 4oz bottle for a buck. They come piping hot and tasting of liquid black liquorish, but they taste a ton better than sick feel. They get you back on your feet in no time flat. I’m on a regiment of 4 a day to get over this case of the sniffles. No matter where you go with your little brown bottle, someone will ask you, “You. Sick?” I must be, why else would I be drinking this swill? “Ney, kamsamneda.”


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