Just got back from a WONDERFUL, unexpected vacation to Taiwan!! I'll blog about that trip later...let me first explain how it came about. The school had warned us a week ago that parents and local health officials were beginning to panick about the sudden spread of H1N1 in Seoul schools...although we hadn't yet had any cases within our LCI, the school directors informed us that any confirmed case would be enough to shut the school down for awhile. We all weren't quite sure how to react to this news...it would be great to have an unexpected break from teaching, if only for a few days, but any days off would mean either a cut in pay or the dreadful possibility of having to make those days up...by teaching on Saturdays.
It was a frustrating work week, having that information in mind while also trying to prepare for Halloween. The directors ended up cutting some of our Halloween activities in order to make it more "swine flu prevention-friendly." Friday Oct 30 was supposed to be our big ay-long Halloween bash- with a haunted house, schoolwide Halloween song contest, snack bar, games and prizes, and face painting (which I volunteered for, how did you guess??). Instead, most of the kindergarteners showed for school that morning dressed in their costumes and breathing masks (clearly a sign of their over-concerned parents), and we were only allowed to leave our classrooms in 10-minute intervals to visit the haunted house and grab a snack of hot dogs on a stick and shrimp-flavored corn chips (Korea's idea of Halloween treats is not quite on par with America's).
The kids were all disappointed, especially about not being able to perform their Halloween song in front of the whole school. Instead, each class performed individually in front of the school directors- not much fun in that! I was secretly kind of glad though- my kids sucked!! We had practiced so much, and they LOVED the song, but they absolutely bombed that performance. I was so mad while I watched them stomp around the stage, jump up and down, or just stare at the "audience" blankly. Oh well- teaching 10 6-year olds a new song is quite the daunting task anyways- I wasn't expecting much!
Like my pics of my Halloween decorations in my classroom?? The other teachers were pretty baffled by how much time I spent making all the decorations- but honestly, that was one of the best things about teaching here so far!! My kids loved them- every time they walked into the room and saw something new I had put up, they'd just scream and jump up and down excitedly :)
The week leading up to Oct 30 Halloween bash was "Spirit Week" (ironic, since us teachers were feleing the least amount of spirit yet this year, given the news about the cancelling of Halloween activities and possibly closing of the school we had just heard). But it was so much fun to see the kinders everyday, dressed in the daily theme: pajama day, crazy hair day, sports day, and backwards day. Some of my favorite pics of them are above.
Spirit Week ended with the news that the school would be closing down for one full school week, so 9 days including the weekends. There was definitely a stunned silence in the staff room when they told us this, at 6:30 pm the night before Halloween, while we were all still in our Halloween costumes for the day's festivities. The staff announced that while there was no "serious confirmed case" at our school (leading us to wonder whether there was in fact a confirmed case, just not a serious one), the concern of the parents and of local elementary school officials was enough to override the school. As we took in this news, I know that the foremost thing on our minds was not "how will we make up these days?" or, "how will be end up being paid for this shut-down week?", but rather, "Nine day vacation!!! Where can we travel to in that amount of time??? Let us out of this room so that we can rush home and check for cheap airfare to ANYWHERE!!!"
And so we did- and Shauna, Christine, and I ended up finding flights to Taipei, Taiwan for just over $200. We planned a beach vacation in southern Taiwan, including hostels and high-speed train plans, in less than 24 hours. It was a nerve-wracking 24 hours, especially since my Dad was still staying with me until the next week, but we did it!! And in my next entry you will hear all about it!!