Friday, August 30, 2013

The wonders of my school

Many of you have asked what you can send me.  I wanted to wait until I got settled in my apartment and in my school before I told you anything.  Now that I've seen what I can and can't get here, I can finally answer you!  I also know more about my students and what they need.  Here are some items that I would love to have if possible:

For my school:
  • toothpicks
  • shaving cream (to practice writing the letters)
  • Legos (just the basic ones)
  • magnetic letters
  • little rolling pin (for play dough)
  • ABC or alphabet books
  • Any phonics books or books for young children
  • the book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (love this alphabet book!)
  • Dr Seuss books
  • Sandpaper Letter Cards - these would be great for my blind students - you have to order them though. Here is the link:
  • anything else you think would be good for blind students to practice learning the alphabet and early reading skills
For me:
  • 3M Command Hooks
  • Pop-tarts (preferably the strawberry kind) - you can't find them here :( - Don't ask me why, but I miss them. 
  • flavored chapstick (I love the Bonne Bell fruit-flavored ones)
  • cinnamon - for baking cookies
  • my dogs....I wish! - There were THE cutest puppies at Petco in my neighborhood today.  SO adorable.  My friend couldn't even look at them and waited for me at the corner.
  • magazines - I never realized how much I would miss my People and US Weekly magazines
I don't want to sound like I'm begging at all.  However, I know that I can't just do boring alphabet and phonics worksheets the whole year that I'm here.  That's just not me.  So if you would like to contribute, I would definitely appreciate it, and I KNOW my students would absolutely love it.  So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My school address is:

Daejeon Dong-gu Gao-dong 171-1
Daejeon Public School for the Blind
Daejeon, South Korea

About my school...there is so much to tell!  The first thing I noticed is that the school is completely open.  There are big sliding doors that remain open all day long so anyone can come into the school, which is completely different than in the states.  All the schools in my previous district had gone through security updates to where you had to go through the office and be buzzed in and then sign in before coming into the school.  Here is a picture of the open doors:

Right inside each set of open doors are cubby-type cabinets where you put your "outside" shoes in your cubby and put your "inside" shoes on.  Everyone wears these type of slippers.  I totally believe that we need to bring this tradition to the states, don't you?  Here are my beautiful slippers:
The cubby cabinets
My awesome slippers
My classroom is on the 3rd floor.  There is an elevator, but the teachers don't really use it.  Here is the English classroom.  It's huge....literally like 2 classrooms in one.  There is air conditioning, but of course I'm the only one who pushes the button for it to come on.  They also have a fan for me behind my desk thank goodness.

That's my co-teacher.  She hates to have her picture taken.

I love this map
My teacher's desk
I have to tell you about Seora (pronounced So-ra).  She is my special friend who comes to visit me every single chance she gets (at least 6 times a day during every break between classes and at lunch).  She is a 17 year old girl who is visually impaired and has learning disabilities.  She doesn't talk much but says "Hello" and "Angela".  When she comes to visit me, she always runs immediately to my desk and puts her hands all over my face and hair (it gets messed up at least 4 times every day), holds my hands, and gives me full body hugs. She won't even let me go down the hall to the bathroom without other teachers prying her off of me. All the teachers say, "Wow. She loves you. I've never seen her do this with anyone." Thank you God for showing me that I am being a representation of your love to these students.  Today during one of her many visits, she was going to town with my hair that I just had to get out the camera.  Good thing my hair is curly and can be messed up!

She always wants to hold my hand or touch me in one way or another.
Yep, there goes the hair
And it got worse....
Still worse....
And now the face....this is all becoming a regular occurrence.  Why?  I have NO idea.

The last thing I want to share with you is my lunch.  Everyone eats the cafeteria lunch at school, even the teachers.  It's included in my salary.  The food is actually been pretty good, especially compared to the cafeteria food back home.  What's funny is that the cafeteria lady sees me coming and gets all excited.  I try to fix my own tray, but she will have none of that.  She piles on everything...from kimchi (this is served everyday....remember it's fermented vegetables with a tremendous kick to the gut), soup, side dishes, meat, and a huge honkin' pile of rice that only a giant would eat.  What do I look like?  Well, Koreans will eat that whole tray of food and they are only like 100 pounds.  So obviously they know something that I don't.  Here is the cafeteria.  Notice the rails in the middle of the cafeteria for the blind students to hold onto.
Going into the cafeteria.  It's in another building.

Here is the cafeteria lady who piles my plate everyday and where you get your food.  See this guy gets to make his own plate!

The first two days the food was SO good. Yesterday it was fish.  Now in Korea, there is no such thing as a fish fillet without bones.  They just give you the whole fish, bones and everything.  That was the case yesterday...big bones, medium bones, tiny bones.  And the soup yesterday had shrimp in it with the skeletons still on them.  In Korea, they eat the skeletons and think nothing of it.  This Texan doesn't quite get on with that theory.  At least not yet.  Today, we had fish again but it was worse.  It was the whole fish, and it was a small type of fish.  You know what that means.  Really small bones.  All throughout the fish.  So picture me trying to "fish" (haha get it?) the meat out of this fish using only my chopsticks.  I'm pretty darn good with my chopsticks.  Even the Koreans are impressed.  However, I've decided that this is a really good diet plan.  Order a fish with tons of little bones and then dig out the meat from the fish using only chopsticks.  Talk about eating super slowly.  And isn't that one of those diet tips?  Well, with this diet plan, you HAVE to eat slowly.  You have no choice.  And at the end, you decide that you're just really not that hungry.  Here is my plate today.

And the fish.....notice all the bones and how tiny they are?

And at the end, you pile all your unwanted food into your soup bowl like this and take it to the dishwashers.  They compost all their leftover here in Korea. 

As you can see, I had so much leftover food that my rice didn't even make it in the bowl.

Today was a good day at school.  Your words of encouragement were wonderful and really touched my heart.  Thank you.  I went into school today with a different mindset, knowing that God orchestrated this whole journey and put me at that school specifically.  Today, I got to sing songs with Seora and her best friend.  We even danced and did the motions.  We sang the Hokey Pokey, I'm a Little Teapot, Jingle Bells, Head and Shoulders, BINGO, If You're Happy and You Know It, and several more.  I had a really good time, and they brightened my day.  My lesson plans are made for next week, and I'm excited to be able to do even more with my students.  

God bless you for your prayers and words of encouragement.  You truly have NO idea how much they mean to me, especially when I'm over here on the opposite side of the world.  Love you guys!


  1. Should we send your personal items to your school as well, like Pop Tarts? I will be happy to keep you in dated Pot-Tarts, my Sams Club membership really pays off here! If you are missing anything else, cereal, spoons and forks... I can send plasic ones! I am used to this stuff.... for years I send 20+ packages (BIG) to our troops overseas! Let me know what all you need or want, send me an email! ~~Debbie

    1. Yes, you can send personal items to my school and just address it to me. Over here, no EPIK teachers have things sent to their house because it's not safe to leave it at the mailbox if no one is there, so everyone has things sent to their school. That would be so awesome! Thank you SO much. Any kind of snack would be appreciated, like Goldfish or Cheerios. They do have a couple of snacks but not the variety that we do. One thing I would really love are some protein bars. I have looked here but have not found them at all. My favorite kinds are the Clif Bars, crunchy peanut butter. They would be great to have on hand for those bony fish days. You're awesome!

    2. I will start gathering things... and get a box! I hope I can use an express mail box from the post office.... I will ask! I can't promise shipping time but I will have this stuff gathered and sent by Friday and ask them to get it there ASAP!

  2. Can you get sand there? That's a good substitute for shaving cream for writing letters.

  3. Oh, and I've seen puffy paint used to make letter cards instead of ordering the sandpaper ones too.

  4. Mandy, I thought about the sand too, but I was afraid the sand might get everywhere. Some of my students have mental disabilities along with blindness, and I thought the sand might go flying all over the classroom even while being on a tray. Puffy paint would be cool. I hadn't even thought of that!