Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Episode 19: In Which DFM Gets A Fever (That Might Be A Tumour), And Makes Another Surprise Visit

Last Thursday I developed a sore throat, and what with all my singing on Friday and talking with Kyu-rhang on Saturday I did not do it any favours. My immune system is exceptionally strong and I was able to heal up by Monday morning, but in the process of healing my throat it (my immune system) must have forgotten about the rest of my body, and before lunch on Monday I noticed I was suffering from a light fever.

My fever persisted through Tuesday night (perhaps I should not have gone climbing on Monday or Tuesday, and the hard climbing both nights probably didn't help either). That said, I still managed to get over 8 hours of sleep both nights, and even though my body had been sore all over, by Wednesday morning (today) I was starting to feel a fair bit better.

After work on Tuesday, I had asked my boss some key questions about his company's educational philosophy in the hopes of being able to modify my teaching style to better succeed in helping the children improve their English speaking ability (pretty much everyone's goal in Korea, for better or worse). One of my goals following the highly informative session was to increase the amount of time I spent communicating in English with each child individually. I should have started this earlier, because the results at school today were fantastic.

Until today (Wednesday) I had thought that with the exception of my one Australian gyopo (Korean who has lived abroad for an extended period of time) student, none of my children could speak in complete sentences. However, one six-year-old boy (Korean age, subtract one year for Canadian age), whom I already knew was exceptionally bright, absolutely blew me away. I had sat down with him and wished him a happy Chuseok. This is the unedited answer I received: "Chuseok is Korean Thanksgiving. It is a National Holiday." I have taught kindergarten kids in Canada and did not even hear speaking that well from some of them.

Another impossibly cute girl, was so advanced I took my personal minute with her to teach the difference between "who is it?" and "whose is it?" Considering the majority of her classmates still answer "I'm seven years old" when I ask them how they're doing, I consider this a major milestone.


By the afternoon I was feeling nearly recovered and decided to continue with my earlier plan to visit Summit Sports Climbing Centre again.

While I normally climb at Ace Climbing Centre because of the camaraderie and the uncommon (for Korea) focus on hard bouldering, I feel somewhat loyal to Summit because the owner gave me a present on my first visit back in March. During my last stay I believe I went to Summit at least four different times. Unfortunately, I have so far been far busy working every day to make it over to see Mr. Chang and my friends at Summit this trip, but last night I brought home my climbing shoes and shorts from my Ace locker in preparation for my big return today.

Just like my surprise return to Ace, I did not tell anyone at Summit that I was returning to Korea (I also did not want anyone to feel slighted if I did not show up for a few weeks or more, like it has been). When I showed up and knocked on Mr. Chang's office door - and he looked up - he nearly fell off his chair in surprise. It was the reaction I was hoping for, so the return can be considered a success. I did not get to see the reactions of any of my other Summit friends though because no one else I knew was there.

Although it seems that none of the routes have changed, many of the climbers have. Summit gym is located near a number of large universities and so the climbing population is constantly changing as the students change or their schedules become busier. Additionally, when I was here in April I was the only foreigner, but now there is an American (whom I have actually met already when he dropped in at Ace last week), an Australian, and another Canadian. I'm not sure if Yu-seok (sounds unfortunately like "You Suck") or Hyundai (his real name) are still there, but Mr. Chang told me "Bin" (whom I had met and helped climb across the "advanced" wall for the first time on one of my visits) had left on a one-year student exchange to America. Jenny wasn't there today, but Mr. Chang told me she still climbs there. Later, Mr. Chang actually phoned her up and handed me the phone without telling her it was me. When I told her who I was, she said, "really?" Followed by Korea's favourite English expression, "oh my God!"

That's it for today, but tomorrow I have my second meeting with the English club, and this long weekend is Chuseok (my schedule is already full), so there should be lots to read about in the near future.

(Note: If you read the whole post trying to find out about my tumour, it doesn't actually exist. It's actually just a reference to "Lowell" from The Kindergarten Cop.)

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