Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week 1 = Complete!

안녕하세요!!! (Hello!!!)

Our first week here in Korea has been eye-opening in so many ways, from the food to our micro-teaching lesson planning, to our struggles with the language. So far we have just skimmed the surface of our #AgEd2Korea experience, but already I know we have a much greater appreciation for other cultures and especially the struggles that English as a Second Language students face in our US classrooms.
David bowing to receive his Korean certificate

Today has been an exciting culmination to our first week. First we started our day off with graduation from our Language School. I'm not sure who was more excited for the break for our brains - us who have been and will continue (to varying degrees) to struggle with reading, writing and speaking Hangul or our amazing SNU teachers who have had wonderful amounts of patience for all our questions and fumbles with the language. While I'm sure we were not their best language class hopefully we were their most entertaining.

As a sort of celebration of our basic grasp of the language, today was the beginning of a sightseeing weekend! We spent our day having a guided tour of some of Seoul's most beautiful and historically important monuments and museums. Led by our trusty guide Ramona, in her bright pink blazer so we wouldn't lose her, we began by having photos in front of a large beautiful fountain and in front of the Blue House, their White House.

Sarah at the Presidential Desk
We then went to our first museum of the day, the Cheongwadae Sarangchae Museum, and specifically their exhibit on the wild flowers of Korea which were absolutely beautiful. There were many beautiful pieces of artwork but the most impressive to me was the paintings that also incorporated pressed flowers, bark and branches. Besides all the beautiful flowers we all had a great time taking photos in their presidential exhibit, enjoying our fifteen seconds of fame  as we sat at the presidential desk replica.

The highlight of the day was where we went after the museum, the Gyeongbokgong Palace, one of three restored traditional palaces in downtown Seoul. The palace was amazing, capturing a collective "wow" from our group as we crossed through the gate into the palace grounds. The buildings' interiors and exteriors were beautifully painted and constructed, showing off the importance of a harmony and connection with nature in the Korean culture, with its highlighting of animal deities and its construction mirroring the surrounding mountains.

The Group at Gyeongbokgong Palace
The architecture of the palace buildings was beautiful but the rich history of the palace, and the Korean culture itself, is what made our first "tourist" day special to me and the group because it's amazing to experience and learn about a culture and country that is so much older than ours. I can't even look far enough into the future to imagine what a museum or monument would highlight about our country and our culture when it has reached an age close to where Korea stands now.

I can't wait to see what new piece of culture we experience next, and I hope everyone at home is enjoying following along with us!

안낼히가세요 (Goodbye!)

아만다 (Amanda)

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