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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall Seoraksan Getaway

Our last few months have been crazy, with cross country and planning for Week Without Walls (See previous two posts.)  One of our main goals this year was to get out and see the country, but we haven't had many opportunities.  On our first free weekend, we took a day off school and headed out to Seoraksan, Korea's most famous national park.

You don't have to spend much time here to figure out that Koreans love hiking and love getting out of the city. (Especially the older ones.)

Seoraksan is a huge park, about a 3 or 4 hour bus ride away from Seoul.  I have always wanted to go, but never made it out there.  I've heard it's especially nice in the fall, so we made it a goal to get there this year.  It was beautiful!  I think the leaves would have been a little more intact and beautiful one week earlier, but we couldn't go until this weekend, (November 1-3) and it was still lovely.

I can plan 540 lessons a year for school, but have the most wicked time planning trips.  We did everything at the last minute, the way everyone talked, I thought everything would be booked...but it wasn't!  We stayed at Seoraksan Tourist Hotel, the only hotel right in the park.  It was perfect because everything was right there and we didn't have to bus in in the mornings.  It was also super easy to get a bus there and back.

We left on Friday night, got in and ate right away.  We ordered seafood pancake and stir fried squid and pork. Mmmm dinner of champions.  The next day we ordered ojingah soondae which is squid stuffed with rice and other stuff.  So that makes three meals of squid in two days.  We were ready to get back, and ate pizza right away, let's just let that be known.

On Saturday morning (after falling asleep at 7:30 and getting 12 hours of sleep...) we got up to hike a 6 hour loop.  It was fine for about 4/10ths of the way until it started sprinkling.  It didn't let up all day so we were cold and wet by the time it was all over.  All my pictures are from the first half of our hike.  It was so lovely.  Although there were many people at the entrance to the park, I mean MANY people...there were not many on our trail and we had a relaxing time.

Afterwards we holed up in a coffeeshop with wireless with the intent of planning our Christmas vacation.  IT'S SO STRESSFUL!  I don't know what is up with me and planning vacations, but it's just not that much fun for me.  (first-world problem to the max)  Finally I told my man that I just want him to do it all and he agreed!!!!!!  So we'll see what he comes up with!!  We are presently planning on going to Vietnam and Cambodia...so excited!

The next day we took a cable car up to the top of a mountain, saw some beautiful views (complete with blue skies this time) and rubbed shoulders with plenty of people.

All in all, it was a wonderful little getaway!  We're really hoping to do many more this year, although it's gonna get real cold real fast...

Here are some pics...again, I had a hard time choosing!!

Cross Country 2013

Cross Country was a huge part of my life, and one of the most fun things I do at school is help coach the high school team.

It's over now, and it's so wonderful to have the free time...to get home at 4 instead of 6:30...but I still love doing it and will continue do it as long as I can!

Some highlights of this year include:

1) Winning second place in the conference (International schools in Korea) for both the girls and the guys teams.  I was just so proud of them.  We had a lot of talented runners this year.  Someday it would be nice to win first...we're so close...but there's this one school that's just so hard to beat every year!  We also had a freshman girl win the girl's race and get a school record with 20:40 something.  I was so proud of her.

2) We invited the entire team over to our house for a pasta party!!  I've always wanted to do this for the team, but didn't know how I would pull it off.  A) cooking for 40 people and B) fitting them in this small house.  But it worked!  I miraculously  (only with God's help) made just enough food, plenty for everyone to eat as much as they wanted, and only a little bit of leftovers...and insanely delicious cupcakes.  These need to become part of my rotation. The kids all packed into our tiny house and they had such a great time.  A girl made a video for the seniors, and they all smooshed into our study, where we have a projector to watch movies on the wall.  It just all worked out perfectly, and I hope to do it next year as well!

3) I always love talking to girls about the things of the Lord, but don't like to be pushy about it.  One day, at a lunch after a meet, I ate lunch with some of the girls because my man wasn't at that meet.  I was nervous about eating with them because I didn't know what we were going to talk about.  They asked me about myself, literally--"Tell us your life story!!" so I did!  Which of course has God's hands all over it.  At the end, a girl asked me if I led a discipleship group.  (Something like Bible Study that teachers can do with whoever they want.)  I've ALWAYS wanted to do a high school discipleship group, but was always waiting for someone to ask me to do it.  I never just wanted to put myself out there.  This is what I've been waiting for!  So now, starting tomorrow, I'll have a small group of girls in my discipleship club.  I extended the invitation to all girl runners.  Many of them have other after school sports, so can't attend, but I'm really excited about the prospect of just a few.

Overall, it was a GREAT year, probably my favorite yet.  This is my sixth year coaching, and there were kids who were seniors who I taught my first year--when they were in seventh grade.  This made it really special and a little bittersweet.  

Somehow I became the team photographer.  It was good for me to practice with some action shooting, but I definitely have a lot to learn.  I took photos each meet, and put them online for the kids to access.  They really appreciated me doing this.  Here are some of those photos.  I'll include some from our hose party as well, as well as the dress-up scavenger hunt day.  It's a ton of pics, I couldn't decide my faves!

Week Without Walls

Every year since I've been here we've done a middle school weekend retreat in the fall.  This year we've made some changes to our program, and our principal had the vision of creating a "Week Without Walls", where we go outside of the classroom for a week and spend it together as a whole middle school.

This meant that instead of using a weekend up, we left on a Monday and returned on a Thursday with 240 middle schoolers in tow.

It was so much fun!!  Our theme was "Got Leadership?" and focused on team building activities and developing leadership skills.

The coolest thing about the week was that my man planed most of the event.  I was so amazed at his ability to pull the thing off.  There were so many things to get together, since it was the first year we had the event, and everything was pulled off flawlessly.  He even got his buddy from college, who is in a legit band, to come play music.  The kids had a great time, the teachers had a great time, it was just really a wonderful experience.

One day in my classroom, before the event, our principal mentioned "we should set up a blog for the parents to read while we're away".  I volunteered, as this is right up my alley!  I'm looking for any way to practice my photography and it's something I knew I could do well.  If you want to read more about what we did, check out our blog here:  www.yissweekwithoutwalls.weebly.com

I'm so proud of my man, and so thankful for the opportunity to get to know the kids better.  Here are just a few pictures of the week's activities.