Listen. Write. Speak.=Inklub

Hello, World!

Micah and I been active on our new youtube channel, The Inklub. Below are our latest videos on our page. Check them out!

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With a baby on the way, I’ve been thinking a lot about “pregnancy-related things.” Thus, the title shouldn’t surprise anyone. But, this poem goes beyond the anticipated birth of our son. There’s an even greater birth that I’m anticipating. Take a listen.

What makes words so powerful? Here’s my explanation. – Micah

Powerful spoken word about race relations in a foreign country. Take a listen.

One word to describe my life: Drum. – Willynn

Summer English Camp 2017!

I’m super ecstatic right now because as of today the first half of the academic school year is officially over! I completed my last day of English summer camp, and for the next three weeks, I can finally relax. No deadlines, obligations, expectations–just pure relaxation. Micah and I are using the break to set off on our baby moon. We’ll be beach bums traveling to different islands in South Korea. But before I go on a tangent about vacation, let me focus on what I planned for my kiddos.

There’s this popular show in South Korea called the Running Man. It’s a game variety show where the guests are placed in teams and compete against each other in different locations across Korea. The show is hilarious! Even as a foreigner watching it, I found myself laughing so hard at certain episodes. Since it was my last camp, I wanted to make it not only educational but very fun for my kiddos. My husband and I worked together to adapt some of the games they used on the show for the classroom and worked it out perfectly.

At the start of camp, I put the students in teams, and they had to work together to complete the task at hand. The class always started with new vocabulary and expressions. We did one worksheet a day to practice writing the language and the rest of the day was hands on learning. As an icebreaker, the students played a game called, pass the bomb (which was just a ball) they had to introduce their names, grade, and the favorite thing they liked to do and the last person had to repeat what their team mate shared within one minute. The team that finished the fastest got a running ball added to their team. It was a great hit.

The camp lasted five days with different learning objectives each day. But for the sake of my blog, I will only focus on the activities I did the first day and add pictures of the following days. The first day we learned about physical appearance. Where the students learned how to describe what someone looks like, using the key expressions, (he/she has ~ they have~) We played a Make A Face game. We also played Draw in Rows. Where I would show a vocabulary card, and the first student on the team had 10 seconds to draw it, five seconds to show the second student, erase it, and the process goes on to the last student, who has to guess what vocabulary word it was. The team(s) that got most points have to roll the big dice. The winning team gets a running ball added for their team.

Since Draw In Rows was a very competitive and active game, the next game was quieter and calming. It’s called Pass the Word. It’s similar to the whisper game, but instead of the students whispering the word to the next person in line, they are mouthing the word with no sound. The second student in line continues the same procedure until it gets to the last person that has to guess the vocabulary word. The winning team gets a running ball added for their team.

 

 

We also played a game called Thieves in the Classroom that game also worked well. Around the classroom, I posted descriptions of the thieves and covered it with post-it notes. This game is very similar to running dictation, with a slight difference. Instead of runners and writers, I had one student as the artist drawing the description, and the rest of the team members were detectives dictating what they just read and remembered to the artist. Afterward, the students had to show the class their pictures and describe the drawings. It was a great laugh. In the end, I revealed what the thieves looked like and voted on the best drawings. The teams with the most points got a running ball added to their team.

 

The last activity of the day was the Running Man Lottery. The students looked forward to this because it meant they would win a “special prize.” The “special prize” was just two pieces of candy, but what kid doesn’t like candy! Hahaha

All in all, the camp was a great success, and the students and I had a great time together. I couldn’t have done it without my amazing co-teachers that assisted me along the way. Deep sigh of relief. The first semester ended on a great note. I’m sure eventually after break I’ll look forward to my second and last semester in Korea as a Guest English Teacher. Until then, cheers to freedom, bliss, and RELAXATION!

Latest Update In the Land of the Morning Calm

This past month I’ve had a lot of cool cultural experiences. Last week, the school of the blind came to my school to give free massages to the teachers. Of course being pregnant, made me jump at the opportunity. It was a fascinating experience. As soon as I walked in the room, the chaperone for the blind students said, “This is the 원어민” (The Native English Teacher). The students gasped in excitement. One of my colleagues informed them I was pregnant and that made them even more amazed with me. I watched as the students talked back and forth about who should give a massage to the pregnant foreign teacher. I just sat back and enjoyed the scene taking place in front of me. What made the whole scenario interesting is their way of identifying who I was, and certain characteristics about me, through the art of touch and the sound of my voice.

The Best Cultural Experience Ever

It was my first real encounter with blind people. It was astounding to hear and see how they interacted with each other and with me. It’s as if I was a part of a reality show, but instead I was watching through a television screen, rather than a present part of the whole encounter. I loved every moment of it. All the other teachers had only their upper back massaged. But, for me, they gave me an arm, shoulder, upper back, and scalp massage. My hair blew them away. I heard them talking amongst themselves about it. Soon, I had three blind students crowded in front of me. “Waaw,” they exclaimed with their mouths open, as they touched, felt, and massaged my scalp. It was SO relaxing! Did I mention it was free! My co-teacher was finished in ten minutes. Before she left the room, she stopped by my chair and said, “Willynn, you must have been the special guest everyone was waiting for.” When I finally went back to the English office, I exclaimed to my colleagues, “Now that was the best cultural experience I ever had!”

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Students Behavior: End of Semester

Other than that great moment in time last week. Around this time of year, students get very antsy and obnoxious. It’s humid, sticky, and rainy. The first semester is slowly coming to an end and summer vacation is on the horizon. They talk more than listen and are always ready to be competitive during game time. Despite it all, they are still endearing and caring towards me and Baby T. Every morning, when they see me walking to school, they run to me and with their high pitched piercing voices they say, “Good morning, Willynn Teacher! Hello, baby!” I can’t help but have a smile when interacting with these little people I have grown to appreciate and admire.

 

My Stalkerish First Graders

The English office is on the second floor, which is the same floor as the first-grade classes. My first graders get really excited when they see me. In Korea, there is no such thing as staff bathrooms. Everyone shares the same bathroom, which can be overwhelming at times. A prime example of this is when I go use the bathroom; the first-grade girls become borderline stalker-ish. They stand guard in front of the bathroom stall, whispering to each other, “Willynn Teacher and baby is in there.” (As if I physically have a baby in my hand.) I appreciate my students, but, my goodness, they get taxing at times. The joys and woes of being an elementary school teacher.

The Speed of Time

The days and months go by quickly here. One day it’s Monday, and next I know, it’s already Friday. The weekends are like quick daydreams and the week starts over again. Just yesterday it was March and it’s already July. The speed of time just makes me more aware of every moment. My heart has changed tremendously for these little people. I can now value their roles in adult lives. They are the best teachers with amazingly creative minds. They have this way of transforming any adult and making them in tune with their suppressed inner child. The wonderful thing about it all is when that inner child is finally released from its confines, the world opens up to you, and you begin to see the beauty in all things.

Oh Yeah, Pregnancy Update!

IMG_4721As you can imagine, I’m getting bigger by the day. The women teachers are captivated by my baby bump. They say, they have never seen my sort of belly shape before. (Um, okay. Whatever that means. I never knew there was such a thing.) Just today one of my co-teachers said, “Willynn, your belly! It grew over the weekend! It’s more forward than wide. Wow! I never saw a belly like that before.” My only response is my baby has an appetite just like his father. “But you’re not fat,” is her response. Um, thanks. (LOL, what else can I say.) A few weeks ago we found out that Baby T is a BOY!!! That is what we prayed for and that’s what God has granted us. Micah and I are ecstatic for our baby boy.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how God brings us through certain journeys and experiences. I compare pregnancy to the process of preparing for a wedding. If not careful, the soon to be newlyweds can get caught up with only the wedding aspect and not the actual marriage. Because at the end of the day that’s what matters. Just like pregnancy, soon-to-be parents, get caught up with the pregnancy, the material possessions, the praise, baby registry, baby shower, and labor. But, forsake to look forward.

Pregnancy is only momentary, just like a wedding. After all the glitz and glamor, another life begins, and an old self-image ends. It’s something Micah and I try to constantly be aware of and keep at the forefront as we transition into parenthood. It’s not always easy, but our baby boy deserves to enter the world with parents that are prepared mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to receive him. Even an innocent child deserves wholesomeness in their environment.

We are all in our own process of becoming. I just live to speak mine out loud.

Signing Out,

Esther Lynn

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

 

1 Year Anniversary

I can hardly believe it today is my one-year anniversary in Korea! Wow, time really flew by! I must say this has been the most exhilarating, life changing, and challenging adventure I’ve ever been on. However, I’ll forever be grateful for this opportunity abroad because it has shaped me in ways I never would have imagined.

Prior to moving to Korea, if you did not know me well, I assume people would have perceived me as someone that was relatively quiet, snobbish, and self-absorbed. In retrospect, I would say people assumptions about me were correct. I was very much to myself and life revolved mainly around me and mine. I would say my biggest identity flaw was the “I” syndrome. Often my siblings and cousins would get mad at me for always thinking about myself and what was convenient for me. (Yeah, I drove a lot of people crazy.) Over time, I realized what caused me to be so consumed with me was the lack of not knowing who I really was–so, instead of investing time on what and who really mattered I focused on trivial things such as, image, apparel, and status.

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Untold stories, untold truths, hidden deep within a soul… a voice whispers, awaken the treasures. Reach down into the deepest abyss and capture your truth.

After getting married, I realized I did not need things and praise from others to make me feel complete as a human being. My beloved husband, Micah, has taught me the art of simplicity. I learned how to be content with what I already had and to appreciate the people in my life that I hold dear to my heart. Micah not only taught me the art of simplicity he taught me the beauty of communication. He had this way of pushing me out of my head and helping me put words to my thoughts. He is my Sankofa bird, constantly reminding me to look back from time to time to see what my past has taught me in the wake of my present stage in life.

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He speaks truths that awakens my soul. Forever my Sankofa Bird, my Micah Josiah.
For the past year, I’ve been living abroad in a foreign land. As I already mentioned, it has been the most exhilarating, life changing, and challenging adventure I’ve ever been on. Mainly because, as a foreigner, I constantly have to speak out loud. Whatever I say or do is a cultural exchange for my colleagues, students, and friends. Community is what makes this experience abroad so enriching. The necessity to be honest about who you are, who you allow to surround you and what you want in life, rings like a clanging alarm. If not careful or aware of these things, I can slowly become self-absorbed again. Therefore, my community keeps me upright and authentic in all that I say or do. The realization that no matter what, you are a leader worth paying attention to, and what makes the attention either good or bad is completely up to you.

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The greatest lesson that life abroad has taught me is the intensity to love.
Over the past 12 months, my heart has swelled for young children that are completely foreign but so welcoming and appreciative towards me. Of course, I had students that were the complete opposite. But the love that pressed my heart made me work harder to somehow reach them and build some type of rapport with them. There have also been people that found me, and I found them from all different parts of the world. Together we all had to bypass the barriers of language, culture, and customs to reach the truest sense of ourselves. These exploits in community have never been easy. The love and security we have found in each other have kept us pressing forward in the direction of change to dissipate our frailties that have kept us lost in our past rather than intentional about our present and future.

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The intensity to love, the art of simplicity, the beauty in communication and the enriching experience of community. All of these lessons have shaped me by making me better as a woman, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher. I’m grateful for this opportunity; life is more vibrant and real because of it. What else can I say but thank you Korea and all of you that read this blog and spend time uplifting my spirit.

Signing Out,

Friday, February 17, 2017

~Esther Lynn~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural Exchange

“사랑합니다!” My attention turned to the entrance door of the English room office. Three students stood with their heads bowed. I nodded my head in acknowledgement, “okay” I said with a smile on my face. As the  students giggled and ran away. I turn to my co-teacher,

“What did they say?” 

“They said, they love you.”

 “Love me?” I retorted. 

Yes, it’s a campaign that started last year at the school. When the students see their teachers, they say, 사랑합니다.”

Oh, okay.” That day marked the beginning of my cultural exchange.

It was my first few weeks in Korea. Everything was relatively new. It was a season of awareness. A time where I would observe my students, colleagues and overall environment. I remember walking into the classroom for the first time. My students gasping for air, Wahhhh (mouths wide open, chatter from all corners of the room) 여어선생님 (English teacher). They asked questions like, is that your real skin? Your hair it’s strange, could I touch it? Willynn teacher, where are you from? How old are you? What religion do you practice? Do you have a boyfriend? Are you married? How about children? As I answered their questions, I thought about their innocent curiosity. Their eagerness to want to know more about me, rather than English. The moment was iconic a beautiful cultural exchange.


As the weeks and months passed, I started to learn more and more about them. I learned about their interest, competitive nature, English games that captivated their attention and their after school activities. I witnessed their efforts in speaking English when trying to tell me about their weekend or just to simply ask me a question. There were moments when my students became my teachers. Teaching me about their culture and their world without even realizing it. Together we have cultivated a classroom filled with cultural exchanges. I am learning from them as they are learning from me.


I come to realize teaching English is not only my sole purpose here. My commitment in Korea is much greater, deeper and wider than key phrases and English vocabulary. My stay here represents a piece of a puzzle to my students global story. I may not get to see who they become in the future, but everyday I work with them is an   opportunity to bridge the gap of differences between two cultures.

I understand it now. When my students said 살나합니다 they weren’t saying it in the passionate way like Hollywood portrays it. They are expressing gratitude, appreciation and interest in me, my culture and all the knowledge I’ve come to share with them. In that regard, I say, “살나합니다” to them. They have and are teaching me immensely. I am forever honored to be a piece of the puzzle to their global stories. A beautiful cultural exchange…

Signing Out,

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Willynn Sanon Thompson

Writer’s Name: Esther Lynn