A Taste of the Sweet Life

31 Mar

It’s a quiet weekend here at English Village in Paju, South Korea.  It’s Easter Sunday and as I am at work today… and in South Korea…its presence constantly escapes me. I am working my last weekend shift of a two month rotation. It is nearly April in Paju and I am still wearing my long winter coat and scarf.  I am longing for the days when Spring has fully arrived but I am reminded that the heat and humidity of Paju summers are not far behind… and then there’s monsoon season.

Lately conversations can turn to the threats of war from North Korea.  While teachers, myself included, are paying attention to North Korea’s headline making threats and actions, there seems to be a sense of concern but not a feeling of panic or urgency. Recently one of our head teachers at English Village, a Korean man, addressed the issue at a staff meeting.  He wants to help keep us informed and he shared his belief that North Korea is simply reacting and offering threats as is their history in the past.  So for now, I suppose I am like many other English teachers in Korea and South Koreans – paying attention to the situation, but also not getting lost in the fear of it.

Work this weekend is pretty simple for me.  The weekend teaching staff at English Village tends to any special camps or students visiting for the weekend as well as the general visiting public.  The last few weekends, today included, I have been teaching an English game for the general visiting public called “Compound Words”.  It is a simple game.  There are two pictures and each picture represents one word of a compound word.  The first team to guess the correct compound word gets a point and the team with the most correct answers wins.  I have found that children and adults alike enjoy it.  They stay for about 20 or 30 minutes or so and laugh and play and guess.  Sometimes the parents help the children answer in English and… sometimes the children help the parents.  It’s amazing to me sometimes to see a very young reserved Korean child come up with a correct answer much to my and often their parent’s surprise.

Last night I took my first try at gluten-free baking in my new to me Korean toaster/convection oven.  As I can’t eat refined sugar and do my best to stay away from gluten, but still love sweets… my last few months surrounded by the candy, sweets and baked goods among English Village staff and students has been challenging.  Finally an opportunity to make something a little sweet for me.  What was on the menu?  Brownies!  It couldn’t have been easier!  With a base of almond flour and sweetened with honey, they turned out sweet, moist and chocolatey.  Just what the doctor ordered!  Here is the recipe!

Earlier this week on my day off I made my way into Seoul.  The mission?  Yoga!  I have been practicing yoga both independently and in classes for over 8 years.  It has become a mainstay in my life and a practice I use to feel at home no matter where I am in the world.  After being in South Korea for over three months, I have found just a handful of yoga studios in Seoul that offer classes in English.  Much of the yoga in this area is what’s known as Hot Yoga, a series of yoga postures done in a heated room.  This type of yoga has not been my practice and does not appeal to me… and so the search continues for a yoga class.

After some persistent google searching and communicating with a studio via email, I finally decided to make the trek to a class this past week in Seoul.  Door to door it was about a two-hour journey.  The commute was longer than I expected and I arrived about 5 minutes late for class.  When I finally arrived I found a Korean teacher with a class full of Korean students.  I was surprised because I sought out this studio and class particularly because they offer classes in English.  Irregardless I made my way in and laid out my mat as I heard the Korean instruction.  The teacher was very friendly and asked me if I spoke Korean.  I shook my head no.  I thought perhaps I could make the best of it. “Perhaps I could follow along?” I asked hesitantly.  The kind teacher looked at me with a less than optimistic look.  She suggested I try another class taught by one of their English teachers.  Respectfully, I rolled up my mat and left the studio.  And so the search for yoga continues.

I am grateful to have my own personal practice of yoga that I can take with me no matter where I am.  Even here in English Village I have had the opportunity to share some basic yoga with the other English teachers.  I was even invited to create a simple yoga lesson that can be done with Korean students in classes at English Village.  Its a Powerpoint guided lesson that has a series of videos showing simple yoga moves that can easily be done in the classroom.  I received some positive feedback on it from a fellow teacher who tried it in his class.  They had some extra time and felt the students needed some physical activity.  He said the yoga lessons met the needs of something physical for the students without getting them too “excited”.  After the class he said they were in a better place to sit down and participate in the rest of the lesson.  That’s great!

And so as this day comes into full play, I find myself in unconventional Easter surroundings.  I will spend my Easter in South Korea teaching young and old alike about compound words.  And later tonight, a little sweet treat and a restful evening as I prepare for the busy work week ahead.  It’s a good Easter in my new surroundings, appreciating the little things that make life sweet.

How about you?  How did you spend your Easter Sunday?  Any sweet memories or recipes to share?

Top Photo – a taste of the sweet life.  Gluten-free honey sweetened brownies prepared in home-sweet-home in Paju City, South Korea.

2 Responses to “A Taste of the Sweet Life”

  1. Nydia 05/09/2013 at 02:34 #

    What’s up, I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep it up!

    • nancieteresa 05/26/2013 at 03:52 #

      HI Nydia, Thanks so much for writing! It’d good to hear from you and thanks for the encouragement!

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