Russian Students and Watermelon Popsicles

3 Jul

It’s my mid-week weekend at English Village.  Summer is finding her way to stay.  The heat is just a precursor to the impending Monsoon season, typically a month of practically non-stop rain.  Our slow work pace has picked up recently with a regular rotation of visiting Russian students.  When one group leaves, another arrives.

Our current bundle of students are overall really great.  They are mostly bright-eyed, friendly and engaged, traveling with supportive and interested teachers, parents and guardians.  At English Village, whenever we teach a class for the first time it is typical to invite the students to ask us questions.  Expected questions can include,”what is your favorite color”, “where are you from”, and of course… “how old are you?”.  But not this bunch.  Recent student questions have included, “why did you want to be a teacher” and “what do you think of the political situation in the Ukraine”… a bit daunting, but thoughtful and appreciated nonetheless.

One can’t help but notice cultural differences reflected in classroom behavior when teaching Russian and Korean students.  The biggest distinction I see is that our visiting Russian students typically have WAY bigger boundaries than our Korean students. For the most part, our Russian students talk more, ask more questions, and are more inclined to physically roam, try and test.  This can result in interesting and engaged classes. Sometimes it can also bring additional classroom challenges.

For example, a few weeks ago during our between-class ten minute break, a class of Russian students suddenly began playing frisbee in the classroom with about ten frisbees that seemed to appear from nowhere…  They were flying everywhere. Surprised, I did my best to collect them and asked… where did these come from?  It turns out they came from the English Village collection of sporting supplies, unlocked as typically students just leave them alone.  But somehow, they made a surprise appearance during class time break.

Despite the increased activity, life at English Village still seems laid back and slow.  Some days this feels like a wonderful gift.  Other days it has me a bit anxious, feeling like there is something I need to do.

I indulged and purchased a watermelon this week with my regular delivery of organic fruits and vegetables.  Some things in Korea are just more expensive than we are used to in the States.  Watermelon is one of them.  While it can be a bit daunting to pay sometimes twice as much for basic things… in general I have learned to just pay it and move on.  We refer to it as the Korea factor – some things are very expensive, but in exchange the lifestyle is simple, salary is descent and expenses are few.  Not a bad trade.

In an effort to make good use of my watermelon (I now have watermelon a-plenty!), I snooped around looking for watermelon popsicle recipes.  I used what I had on hand and easily concocted a basic watermelon brew and poured it into my popsicle molds to enjoy a frozen summer treat later.watermelon popsicles

Here is what I did:

  • Cut up some fresh watermelon and put it in my blender
  • Added a little lemon (lime would be better, but it is all I had on hand)
  • Added just a drop of vanilla

Voila!  Watermelon popsicles!  And not a drop of sugar!

How about you?  Any summer stories or refreshing recipes to share?  It’s always great to hear from you!

That’s it for now from Paju, South Korea.  Thanks for reading!