Halloween in Korea

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Holidays are a funny thing. We think of them as being universal, but they really aren’t. Most of our holidays are unique to our country and our culture.

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Halloween is a wonderful holiday and I have always loved it, but telling Korean kids (and even my co-workers from England and Australia about it) absolutely made me sound nuts.

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My students completely refused to believe that you could knock on a strangers door and get candy. They flat out called me a liar. To them, you would never talk to a stranger. You would never go to a strangers house. And even your parents are not likely to give you candy because they are a very health-conscious culture.

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So there I was, trying to defend grown adults wearing costumes, taking candy from strangers, and putting up skulls all over your house.

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It made me realize that yes, Halloween does sound crazy from the outside. We’re just so used to some things that we consider normal, and so to us, those things don’t seem bizarre at all. And yet, when you take those things out of context, they can actually seem really strange to others.

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I found myself defending my culture a lot. Not in a bad way, exactly, but just in the way that you would expect. Children are curious and they ask a lot of hard questions because they don’t really have social boundaries like adults.

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Their questions, however difficult, demanded answers. I did my best to be a good ambassador for my country and my culture, and I hope I proved equal to the task.

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A tip for teachers: Going as a witch is fine. But if you teach small children, do not go for a scary costume. My zombie costume wasn’t even that good, and I still made a few little girls cry.

Teaching in South Korea

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

 

I moved to South Korea is 2010, in January. Being from Arizona, I really didn’t know how to handle winter. It was a challenge beyond what I had expected and required all new clothes. I had to learn about waterproof boots, long underwear, and insulated parkas.

The bigger challenge was learning to teach. I did get my International Teaching Certification through TEFL, but I didn’t have any classroom time under my belt except for some volunteer experience at The Thomas J Pappas School for the Homeless when I was in college.

I had to develop incentive programs to ensure maximum participation in class, and I had to figure out how to get the textbook material to come alive for the kids.

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

 

Later on,  I even got the freedom to develop my own classes. The class I am most proud of was the D&D class. The kids love to play games where they acquire items. So, I was able to use Dungeon and Dragons to teach them new vocabulary while feeling like they were playing a game.

It was hard to adjust to the culture and the job, but I think that I was able to do this very well. That’s why I ended up being offered additional contracts after I completed the first one.

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

I stayed for three years, and it was a really wonderful three years!

Here is a picture of our little Avalon family (above.)

Moved to Korea

I’ve moved to Asia for awhile. Had to get out and see the world, as much as I love Phoenix.

I’ve moved to Asia for awhile. I really do love Phoenix, but sometimes you need to get out. So here is a bit about my new adventure.



The mountain next to the building I work in.




First, Korea is not a third world country. I heard a lot of silly things like that when I announced I was moving here. For the record: It’s much more modern than the US. We have great public transportation and fantastic medical care, not to mention thousands of years of interesting culture. Plus, the buildings are more modern than in the US and we have nifty doors that slide open when you walk up, just like in Star Trek. You may not hear a lot about Korea as a citizen of the US, but that’s not because there’s nothing going on here. The US is just a bit… self-absorbed.



This is Korean Money. Pretty neat, huh?




Yes, North Korea is communist. Yes, they are our neighbors. But the North Koreans and South Koreans view themselves a lot like separated cousins. If North Korea attacks anyone, it won’t be us. They would rather convince their cousins to join them. I worry more about my friends in the US than I do about myself.



Yeoungtong, in the city of Suwon




No, I am not being deprived of all things American. From 7-11 to MacDonalds, there are plenty of American things here. They even sell Pringles at the corner store. I can get almost everything here that I can get in America.



At the grocery store.




So to put it quite simply; it’s not anything like people seem to think. It’s much nicer. And no, I am not here as a journalist. I am not going to sneak across the border into North Korea for some story on Communism. I am actually just here for adventure. I am teaching English to pay for it. It’s a lot of fun, and I promise to stay away from North Korea.



Best Strawberries ever