It’s been almost a month since my last post. Lots has happened, including a trip to China and a visit from my parents. During the end of September, the teachers had a six-day vacation because of Chuseok (pronounced “choo-sock”), a national holiday that celebrates the harvest. Chuseok is a time to be with family. So, many of my students visited their grandparents and had huge family feasts together.
As a Chuseok gift to all of the teachers, GDA gave us a box full of three containers of “luncheon meat,” six cans of tuna and two bottles of canola oil. This is by far the weirdest gift I have ever received. Supposedly, this is considered a nice gift. I guess cans of tuna and spam are regarded more highly here.
Chuseok Gift - Canned Tuna, Luncheon Meat, Canola Oil*
At GDA, we celebrated Chuseok by making songpyeon with our students. Songypeon are crescent-shaped rice cakes stuffed with sesame that are steamed with pine needles for a pleasant aroma. According to Wikipedia, the rice cakes can also be stuffed with different foods, such as red bean paste and chestnut paste. Since I was so busy helping my kids flatten their rice cakes, spoon sesame inside them, and then fold the cakes into a half-moon shape, I didn’t take too many pictures. My kids are only four years old and usually need help when it comes to art projects and cooking. Here is the one and only picture I snapped.
During Chuseok, some people also wear traditional Korean clothing called a hanbok. The GDA kindergartners wore their traditional clothing to school, and they looked SO CUTE!
Jamie and Ruben in Hanboks*
GDA Talent Show in Hanboks*
The kids performed the monthly talent show in their hanboks, changed for lunch, and then got ready for ssireum, which is traditional Korean wrestling. Before watching the GDA students wrestle, I really had no idea what ssireum was or what to expect. Someone wins by bringing any part of their opponent’s body above the knee to the ground. Apparently, this type of wrestling causes little harm to the players. You could have fooled me because it looks painful!
GDA divided the school into two age groups. The first age group consisted of the six year-olds and my five year-olds (They are Korean age five, but American age four.). I didn’t think my kids stood a chance since they were both smaller and younger than the six year-olds. However, Mark Twain’s quote “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.” fits into play very nicely. The second age group was the seven year-olds.
The two best players from each class (regardless of sex) were selected by the gym teacher to compete. My students Ruben and Ryan were selected. Ruben is short and has strong, thick legs from playing soccer. Ryan (one of my newer students) is tall and has longer legs. Each player pulled a name from a hat to determine his/her opponent. To my surprise, both Ruben and Ryan advanced to next round, after competing against six year-olds in the first round.
What made my mouth drop immediately was how quickly each child grabbed onto the pants of his/her opponent. It looked like they were giving each other huge wedgies! Wedgie after wedgie it seemed, and my mouth gaping. I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s not every day that you see little Korean kids giving each other wedgies. Usually, when playing ssireum, people wear soft belts around their waists and thighs, but since this was kindergarten, they grabbed onto the spandex part of the their opponents’ pants.
The first video you are about to see are matches between my students and the six year-old students. In the first part, Ryan (my student in Peter Pan class) defeats Stephano (six year-old in Snow White class). Then, Ruben (my student) beats John (six year-old in Mermaid class who I teach language arts to every day). In the next section, Ruben loses against Nick (a six year-old in Lion King class who I used to teach in the afternoons). Ryan also lost another match between a different six year-old, but I didn’t capture it because it was a short match, and Ryan got upset. The last segment of the video is between my boys Ruben and Ryan to determine who would take third place. Ruben came out victorious, and Ryan ended up crying.
Ruben with His 3rd Place Medal and Prize (Bag of Rice)
The next video contains the “championship” matches. Two boys, Nick and David, from the newest kindergarten class (Lion King) took first and second place for the five and six year-old division. Jack, a member of Dream class, won first place for the seven year-olds, and Rodin, a member of Excellence class, took second place. The championship matches were best of three. I only got the last match of the seven year-olds on camera. During the first match, Jack got a bloody nose, and he and Rodin had to stop playing. Despite the bloody nose, Jack prevailed and won.
* Click pictures for larger images.