Paula In The World

The Travelocity Gnomey is on a Mission. Hopefully He’ll NAB me! Here’s Why!

34 days ago (feels like years), I decided to enter The Great Gnome Nabbing contest.  Travelocity is giving away a trip around the world valued at $65,000 to one lucky winner who receives the most votes, has the best on-screen presence and a compelling story.  The winner might even get to make a commercial for Travelocity!  You Gnome, it’s my dream to be an old lady actress…This could be just the start I need.

For 3 weeks straight during the initial voting phase, I woke up everyday with excitement, energy, and motivation to continue promoting Travelocity and You Gnomey.  Seriously, those Travel Gnomes are clever little marketing machines

When it was announced that I made it to the top 10, I was SOOOOO. I jumped up and down, ran in tiny little circles screaming, “OMG I’m SO excited. AHHHH!!!!”  I picked my best friend from college, Tammy Duggan-Herd, to campaign with me as my travel companion.  This year is our 10 year frieniversary and she is definitely the funnest person I know.   I knew that if we were nabbed to go on a free trip around the world, we would make the most of literally EVERY minute.  We actually have a LOT in common.  Besides our good looks and million dollar smiles, we play sports, support human rights, have adventurous spirits, and care deeply about the world and its people. Still looking for more reasons for why we should get Gnomenabbed?

TOP 10 REASONS THE ROAMING GNOME SHOULD NAB PAULA AND TAMMY!!!!

10.  Tammy is little, but she is fierce!

She will protect the Roaming Gnome from ANYONE that even thinks about nabbing him. You can thank #volleyball #crossfit and #rugby 

9:  Paula makes a mean cheese danish!

The Roaming Gnome will never go hungry and Paula might even introduce him to some new scrumptious foods (unlikely, but she will try).  She knows a lot about international cuisines.  That’s her coordinating a cultural exploration program through cooking, featured in the Boston Globe:  Touring The World, One Dish At A Time

8. Paula and Tammy have been best friends for 10 years.

Paula and Tammy have not lived in the same place for the past 6 years, so this trip would help reunite them for 3.5 AMAZING weeks.  They will entertain as they live it up with the Roaming Gnome in 5 international destinations

                                                                                              

7. Paula always takes thousands of awesome photos and videos of her travels.

Tammy is great at photoshopping this ‘lil guy but they are dreaming about the opportunity to have a real photo shoot with him in person!  Cheese Danishes will definitely be included in the shoot. In addition to capturing beautiful photos and videos, they are engaging storytellers and writers. Check out the article that Paula wrote about her last trip:  Tropical North Queensland: beyond the reef

6. “I’m dying for a Gnomenabbing, I’ve left the garden too”

Let’s practice.  Paula will nab you now. Then you nab her on the 29th!

5. “I like cheese danishes and even Honey Boo”

Well guess what?   Mama June LOVES Paula’s You Gnomey Rap and Honey Boo Boo said you better redneckognize that You Gnomey is the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. “I’m Funemployed Right Now. This Trip Would Boost My Resume!”

I’m in the field of International Education so I love to help college students organize their travel and study abroad. It brings me so much joy to help others have meaningful intercultural experiences abroad. When I have the opportunity to do it myself, I make the most of every second and share it with the world through video, pictures, stories, and social media updates!  An international travel opportunity like this would definitely help my job search and the positions I will have in the future.

3.  Paula and Tammy’s parents and friends made AWESOME videos to show their support.

“Oh they don’t have a barrel of money, Maybe they’re ragged and funny. But they’ll travel the world with the Gnome, Side by Side ”

2.  She’s a clever little pickle too!

Paula will write jingles along the way.  Did you know she wrote “You Gnomey Rap” and “Nab Me Maybe” in just a few minutes. “Hey, I just met you…And this is crazy…Here’s my passport so nab us maybe!” Check out her YouTube Channel for more videos: PaulaInTheWorld

Plus, they’ve converted all of their FB friends into Travelocity Superheroes

1. The world is one big ball of beautiful randomness.

This may be hard to follow, but it is so so great.  Paula’s Irish friend that she while met teaching English in S. Korea, currently biking across Tanzania.  HE said that he saw Paula on BBC World News TV in Tanzania “jumping around and rapping about a gnome”. (Must of been the “Nab us Maybe” part when I was jumping on the bed).

No matter where they travel, they know they’ll never roam alone.

Travelocity, Paula and Tammy desperately  want to ROAM AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE ROAMING GNOME!  Speaking of, here’s the perfect theme song for when you nab em. Smooches until then! xo

“Fly the great big sky
See the great big sea
Kick through continents
Busting boundaries
Take it hip to hip rocket through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss”

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You Gnomey Rap!

http://gnomenabbed.travelocity.com/?v=b116f56a-8a3e-4964-99a5-a4f708268ca3  Please vote for my video that is part of the Travelocity competition to win a free trip around the globe. You can vote once a day until Oct. 27. Do you want me to take you with me? I can bring someone–just let me know 🙂

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Australiaaaaaaa!!!!!

Tropical North Queensland: beyond the reef

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One Year Ago…

Exactly one year ago, the MV Explorer and the Fall 2011 Semester at Sea voyage set sail and what an amazing work experience that was!  I met some amazing friends and students on board and the entire experience confirmed to me that I want to continue working in the study abroad field.  Since returning from the “trip-of-a-lifetime,”  I have done a bit more traveling (Israel, England, Fiji and Australia), graduated with my Masters of International Education from SIT Graduate Institute and have been job-hunting.  

My friend, Kristin Luna—who I have to blame for me not updating my blog as much on SAS because she was always sooo good about updating Camels and Chocolate 3x a week and we were almost always together–is teaming up with the Enrichment Voyage on SAS to give out a 25 day trip this December. I WANT IT 🙂 I’m sharing the love for you to win, too (and at the same time increasing my chances). Check it out: 

http://www.camelsandchocolate.com/2012/08/enrichment-voyages-cruise-giveaway/

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Ghana definitely come back to Ghana

The first day in Ghana, I explored Accra and it’s markets, including the local market selling everything from fabric to fishing line and the art market selling crafts like drums and masks. Loved the food and wished I could of tried more dishes. I was taken aback at first with how little attention I was receiving by everyone (at least not in the touristy areas who were trying to sell me stuff) because I knew that I stood out like a needle in a haystack. It was surprisingly nice because I just walked around the capital hopefully with what appeared to be intention and I guess I seemed to fit in or look like I had been visiting for a while and was not fresh off the ship.

Another day I was a trip liaison for City of Refuge, a faith-based orphanage in Ghana with a powerful and important mission.  I enjoy being the liaison for our Semester at Sea field programs and especially loved that I had the opportunity to lead a service trip in this context, as it is right up my ally both for personal and professional interests.  City of Refuge is run by a couple, Stacy (American) and John (Nigerian).  They met in Ghana and learned about child trafficking in the Lake Volta Region of Ghana and started this organization to bring about awareness of what is going on, educate the communities receiving these children and to help return the children safely to their communities or to their home where they welcome everyone and treat them as a member of their family. Last year, a group of SAS students were so influenced by the work they were doing that they started a non-profit that supports City of Refuge called Finding Refuge.

The issue: In the fishing communities of the Lake Volta region, There are thousands of children who are being used as slaves. These children are receiving no education or care from their masters and are sold to them to work usually from single mothers or grandparents who cannot care or afford to take care of their kids.  They can be sold into child labor for just $20.  Many of the children only receive one meal a day, which usually consists of gari soaked in the lake water.  The work is tough work for a man, let alone a child.  The children often times do not know how to swim and if a net gets caught, they are expected to go get it unstuck, and they drown. Parents sometimes are misled into thinking that the child’s master will put their son or daughter through school in exchange for work, but this is not the case. Many of the parents are not interested in taking these children back, as they have no means of taking care of them, and yet other parents see their children as a source of income, so if their children were to be returned home, they could be sold again. It is very difficult to estimate how many children are actually trafficked around the Volta Lake due to the size of the lake. Because fishing is a livelihood for the fisherman masters, most people are not willing to give up their source of income by returning the children.  Working in the communities with chiefs and creating a paradigm shift in thinking will hopefully help this issue subside over time.  City of Refuge is currently trying to find a way to educate fisherman on other sustainable fishing techniques like fish farming that does not put a child at risk.  Because the children do not mean much to their master, in cases where other groups have tried to bring about legal action, the fisherman just gets rid of the child in the lake and he drowns.  Girls are also trafficked into this business to help around the homes and they may become impregnated by their masters at 13. Stacy and John have established their lives in Ghana to make connections and establish relationships with these communities, both who send children and receive children to discuss the issues, prevent at-risk children from being sold and and help facilitate transfers of children back to families or to the City of Refuge, where they become part of a loving communal family and are given the opportunity to become educated.

City of Refuge just opened a school, to serve the community where the orphanage is and during our visit, our students helped in each of the school classrooms, painted the house that they are building as part of the orphanage and prepared 600 meals for other children who lived in the community.   The feed was interesting and I couldn’t believe how many children came out of their homes to get a meal of rice, a spoonful of tomato pepper sauce and a hard-boiled egg.  We passed out the meals and returned back to the ship.

On another day, I visited the slave dungeons and the Cape Coast castles where slaves spent their last months before boarding a ship for the Americas.  The castles were originally built along the ocean for trade of timber and gold but it was converted for use of the Atlantic Slave trade. It was really interesting to think about slavery in this context that was so much a part of our history a long time ago and juxtapose it with human and child trafficking that is still very present in our world today, including in Ghana.

 

The dungeons had a very eerie feel to them, knowing that many people died where we were standing while waiting for forced transport to the new world.  There were separate dungeons for men and for women, and for people who misbehaved where they were sent to starve to death. Misbehaving could be talking back, trying to escape or for women refusing rape.  The door of no return is where the slaves who made it out of the dungeons alive were escorted out of the castle to board a boat.  Today, people (but probably most meaningful for African Americans or Afro-Caribbean’s) can walk through that door the other way, as they call it the door of return.  Visiting this dark tourism site reminded me of some of the living conditions I saw while in Cambodia and seeing the atrocities of the killing fields and learning the history of the Khmer Rouge and what happened at S-21.  Visiting these places that remind me of such a terrible history is difficult and sad, but it is important to see and are images I will never forget.  The mission of the Castles and Slave dungeons at Cape Coast Castle and St. Georges Castle at Elmina is  to be in “Everlasting memory of the anguish of our ancestors. May those who died rest in peace. May those who return find their roots. May humanity never again perpetuate such injustice against humanity. We, the living vow to uphold this.”

I have always wanted to go to Africa ever since I was a little girl.  Now I have been to Morocco and Ghana and am heading to South Africa and then Mauritius. I remember drawing a picture of the world with six houses drawn on the countries or areas where I wanted to live at least part of my life. I wish I still had the drawing but I am sure I had a house drawn in California, Florida, Hawaii, one in Western Europe, one in Chile and one in Africa (Africa-very broadly speaking for a kid). I was thrilled to finally be in Ghana. In middle school when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded Jane Goodall. I admired the research she did in Africa with chimpanzees and I loved apes. My dislike of high school biology changed that path for the time being but I still felt strongly about coming here- here not Morocco or northern Africa but countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Mozambique and Madagascar have always intrigued me. Of the 5 times I started my Peace Corps application over the last 5 years, Africa was always my 1st choice for geographic location.

When I was in a previous serious on and off relationship over the last couple years with CN from Nigeria, there were times when I could really imagine living there for some or most of the year, which was pretty crazy to imagine a possible reality in place I had never been to.  While the intricacies of our relationship that came up regarding land, nationality, country, culture and family are not really appropriate in detail for a public blog, I feel like a can respond to various concerns with him or someone else in the future a little more clearly, having touched his continent, specifically west Africa, having ordered the same food he eats on my own in a restaurant and having walked through a similar village to the one he is from. A couple days in Ghana was not enough.  A couple weeks would not have been enough. My work and travel to this country and continent will not be over after Semester At Sea.  In the meantime, I am bringing back with me a drum and some beautiful Ghanaian rubber stamped fabric to remind me of my great experience in Ghana.

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Camels and Donkeys and Snakes…Oh My Morocco!

We are already have one port under our belt and our work load has significantly decreased because so far we have not had any 15 hour work days.  Coming back to the ship felt like coming home- it was a place of comfort, I knew there would be food, a bed and familiar faces.  Morocco was a very interesting country to visit for a first port.  Of the countries I have traveled to, Morocco most reminded me of Turkey.  I helped to dispatch our trips in the morning and before I knew it, I was boarding the bus and head counting for my first overnight on a Semester at Sea trip.  I was the trip liaison for the Camel Trek and was very excited because the experience directly related to my studies of International Education at SIT.  The opportunity to lead a group of college students and senior citizens on a trip; witnessing their observations and experiences firsthand through my own eyes and through theirs was priceless.   After a several hour drive, we arrived at the camels and everyone’s faces lit up.

We rode for about an hour into rocky desert terrain until we sat down for what would be the first of many filling and delicious Moroccan feasts-tagines, cous cous, kebabs, soups, fruit- it was all very good.  We visited Beber homes and sat down for mint green tea.

We even had the opportunity to play donkey polo!  I was being so competitive that I even fell off the ass while reaching to hit the ball with the broom in my hand.

Our tent accommodations were amazing.  Colorful carpets were spread across the sand with cushions and tents made of wood stilts and hand-woven blankets.

There were actual beds in each of the tents, making it a 5-star camping experience.  Even though we were in the middle of nowhere, musicians appeared during dinner and we danced and clapped around the fire for several hours until we laid on our backs to watch the shooting stars.

The morning sunrise was well worth the early wake up, too.

The next night and the day following that, we explored Marrakech- the medina, snake charmers and the sights and smells of the market.  Starting prices for goods were extortionate, especially if you were American.  My first purchase was a pair of orange pointy Moroccan shoes. I spoke Spanish and did not tell him I was from America so the first price he told me was already significantly lower than what it would have been had I spoke English to him but it was still not nearly close to a “Moroccan price.” He started at 180 dirhams and I got it down to 50 (equivalent of $6.50) and he was not budging anymore and I left pleased with my purchase and him happy with the sale.  Other student’s, however were not as fortunate, being scammed by henna artists, taxi drivers and other shopkeepers.  I enjoyed my low-key interactions with people that I initiated vs. times where I felt pushed or pressured.  I found this cute spice store and bought a general spice made of 35 other spices and some Argan oil (Moroccan oil) for hair and body.  The family that ran the store asked me to send them the picture I took and I said, sure write down your email and he wrote down his store address 🙂

Marrakech was not a favorite of mine, compared to the beauty and tranquility of our desert nomadic-style camps but it was interesting none-the-less.  Now we are on our way to Ghana and I can’t wait!   Just after Ghana on our way to South Africa we will be crossing the equator and I have a big dilemma-To shave my head or not shave my head, that is the question.  In maritime tradition, when you pass the equator on a ship for the first time, you are supposed to shave your head, get drenched in fish guts or a variety of other “hazing” sounding things.  Looking on a map, the only place I would of already come close to crossing the equator via ship/boat would have been during a Galapagos islands cruise in Ecuador.  I think the islands we visited in particular were a little south of the equator so I am not exactly sure if I qualify to be a shellback or the one getting everything done to!   I’ve always wanted to shave my head and now is an ok time because I will be traveling and/or studying for another 8 months which would give my hair some time to grow.  I also feel like I’d want to do some sort of fundraising campaign if I were to shave my head which I do not feel like I have the time for at sea.  Let me know if you would sponsor me if I decide to do it!  We will be crossing the equator just after Ghana as we set sail for South Africa. I keep feeling my head to see if I have an awkward shaped head! Natalie Portman didn’t look too bad..

I apologize for my busy life that has impeded on my email/postcard writing and catching up with folks back home.   One shout out/thank you I’ve been meaning to post is to all the friends and family who supported my efforts for gathering donations to give out along the way- Mom, Grandma, Lynne, Ms. Hoops, Kari, Chilezie, Ruth Ann, Laura, Kasey and more!  Thank you!  I brought on ship 2 big boxes filled with everything you can imagine and its been so great as conversation starters in communities and I plan on making a larger donation to the service project I am leading in Ghana at the City of Hope Refuge.  Just today a student came up to my desk and wanted to know where she could buy colored string for friendship bracelets because she wanted to teach children at orphanages how to make them.  I ran to my room and got some supplies that you had donated and her face lit up because she was worried she might not find what she wanted.  So, Thanks!

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One week so far, a shipload of work and fun!

Bonjour from the Atlantic Ocean aboard the MV Explorer en route to Morocco! If you do not know, I recently started a staff position on the Fall 2011 Semester at Sea Voyage. We’ll be visiting Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Japan, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and hopefully Cuba which is still pending our travel license approval. The students embarked in Montreal, Canada but I was lucky enough to board in Boston, MA with the other staff and faculty. It was great to see some of my friends and family in Boston just before I left- thank you for coming! It has officially been a week since I boarded in Boston so I thought it was about time to write my first blog entry!

So, what can I say that is interesting? I’ll start by saying that for general information about this voyage on Semester at Sea, and perhaps some more exciting reading, there are some other great bloggers writing about some of our collective experiences like in the official Fall 2011 SAS blog. We also have Evelyn Hannon, AKA “Journey Woman” joining us until Cape Town.  I work as one of the assistant field office coordinators alongside two amazing and talented individuals who also are keeping blogs. Josh, our trusty leader, is the field office coordinator. He is American but has been living abroad for the last 10 years, most recently in Australia as a senior travel editor for their largest web portal. http://joshontheboat.tumblr.com/ . Kristin is our other assistant field office coordinator, coming to us from America via soooo many countries-She’s already been to 64, but as a travel writer and blog extraordinaire, it’s kinda her job….not bad, if you ask me. http://www.camelsandchocolate.com/

When you are on a ship for over 100 days, it’s very easy to lose track of days, forget about weekends, and since I’m living literally 30 feet from where I work, work hours are a little non-existent as long as there is work to be done…which is always. Our team works together to help deliver the 300ish field programs we offer in the port cities along the way. We work with the students, faculty, staff, Life Long Learners, tour operators, and the Charlottesville office, involving a LOT of logistics.. Being on the ship was fun from Boston to Montreal but it was great to walk around Montreal and get off for the day. I knew Montreal was in Quebec but I had not realized how French it was until I got there! I spent 20 minutes at the wine store just trying to decipher the French signs dividing the wines by country and type. For those of you on the East Coast, I’d def recommend a weekend trip up to Montreal. Many of the students stayed at the Hostelling International, Montreal and had great things to say about it. Don’t forget to try the Poutine! MMM….

Knock on wood that so far I have not gotten seasick. I’ve been taking ginger pills, which are supposed to help. My cabin is cozy and pictures of my friends and family are lining my magnetic walls. I pushed my single beds together for the time being until my grandma joins me in Japan to travel with us from Japan to Hawaii. She won’t be the only senior on the ship because there are 60 “Life Long Learners” who are aboard as well, making our community all the more interesting.

I promise next time I’ll write about something more exciting, like riding a camel through the Moroccan desert and sleeping in a Nomad camp (Yes, I am really signed up to lead this trip). But for now to finish up this entry before I get rocked to sleep, here is a mini history of Semester at Sea. SAS is a non profit, whose mission is “To educate individuals with the global understanding necessary to address the challenges of our interdependent world. With the world as our classroom, our unique shipboard program integrates multiple-country study, interdisciplinary coursework, and hands-on field experiences for meaningful engagement in the global community.” It left on its first voyage in 1963! Since then SAS has welcomed many influential and notable lecturers and guests aboard the ship in our various port cities-Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Fidel Castro, to name a few. On our voyage, we will be meeting with the Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, who is a big supporter of Semester at Sea. I just hope my Safari gets back with enough time for me to get a good seat! Sitting in the union with 500 students packed in creates such an amazing energy.

Sending my love,

Paula

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3 things to know about South Korea

I just finished teaching my last English class at Moongok Middle School. Now I am sitting in my classroom watching a documentary and saying hello to the kids stopping by to say, “Ms. Paula, Please don”t go!” Today we reminisced looking back at one of the first videos I made of my student’s singing Justin Beiber’s “Baby” almost a year ago. Even in less than a year, they have grown up so much.

I know I’ve said this over and over but I really could not live in a more beautiful place. I almost cried on my last bus ride to work this morning passing lush green mountains and flowing rivers, and beautiful farm land that is growing so quickly. The old farmer that usually meets me for part of my ride to work smiled and nodded to me this morning. I smiled and bowed back knowing but unable to communicate to him that it would be the last time I see him. Jeongseon (where I live) has about 10,000 people which is nothing for S. Korea, considering Seoul has over 10 million people. The town where I teach only has a couple hundred, if that. Tomorrow will be my last day in Jeongseon and then I will head to Seoul and to Jeju Island, also called the Hawaii of Korea for a couple days of sun before I fly back to NYC.

There are a few facts/issues that I did not much about before I came to S. Korea that I think are important for everyone to be aware of. So here’s me on my soap box for the next 10 min….

The first is education in South Korea. This year I spent a semester researching and studying the South Korean education system as part of my SIT graduate school class. What I learned and continue to learn is amazing. Students spend so much time studying in school and out of school. If you are interested I can give you a million more resources that demonstrate the country’s the obsession with education and associates it with the country’s low fertility rate, overall physical health quality and high suicide rate. Luckily, the government has made some huge changes in their policies over the years at attempting to reduce the educational achievement gap. (Again, ask me if you want more info!)

The second issue that is talked about so openly that really bothers me is plastic surgery. It’s very true how the documentary above describes one typical standard of beauty in Korea- thin, big eyes, small face. Double eyelid surgery and nose surgery is the most common to make them have a more “western face.” Of course not every person in Korea thinks this is beautiful and every person does not get plastic surgery but it is a lot more common than you would think. I’ve had discussions with my middle schoolers and many would not blink twice about getting surgery if they ever could. My friend is a high school teacher and several of her students already have had surgery as a gift from their parents. It is all connected back to education and success. If they are more beautiful (or feel more beautiful) some parents feel they will have one less thing to worry about and they will do better in school and thus in life. Since having only one child is the norm in Korea, parents invest so much into what they think of as their children’s well-being.

Finally, the last thing I hope you can learn more about, if you do not already know, is the Korean “comfort women.” Comfort Women were young women of various ethnic and national backgrounds who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Government between 1932 and 1945. I first learned about the Korean Comfort Women by watching the Vagina Monologues in college. Below is the script from the Vagina Monologues and following is a trailer for a documentary being made telling the stories of these Korean women.

For The “Comfort Women”
Our stories only exist inside our heads
Inside our ravaged bodies
Inside a time and space of war
And emptiness
There is no paper trail
Nothing official on the books
Only conscience
Only this.
What we were promised:
That I would save my father if I went with them
That I would find a job That I would serve the country
That they would kill me if I didnít go
That it was better there
What we found:
No mountains
No trees
No water
Yellow sand
A desert
A warehouse full of tears
Thousands of worried girls
My braid cut against my will
No time to wear panties
What we were forced to do:
Change our names
Wear one piece dresses with
A button that opened easily
50 Japanese soldiers a day
Sometimes there would be a ship of them
Strange barbaric things
Do it even when we bleed
Do it young before we started bleeding
There were so many
Some wouldnít take off their clothes
Just took out their penis
So many men I couldnít walk
I couldnít stretch my legs
I couldnít bend
I couldnít .
What they did to us over and over:
Cursed
Spanked
Twisted
Tore bloody inside out
Sterilized
Drugged
Slapped
Punched
What we saw:
A girl drinking chemicals in the bathroom
A girl killed by a bomb
A girl beaten with a rifle over and over
A girl running head first into a wall
A girlís malnourished body dumped in the river
To drown.

What we werenít allowed to do:
Wash ourselves Move around
Go to the doctor
Use a condom
Run away
Keep my baby
Ask him to stop.

What we caught:
Malaria
Syphilis
Gonorrhea
Stillbirths
Tuberculosis
Heart disease
Nervous breakdowns
Hypochondria
What we were fed:
Rice
Miso soup
Turnip pickle
Rice
Miso Soup
Turnip Pickle
Rice Rice Rice
What we became:
Ruined
Tools
Infertile
Holes
Bloody
Meat
Exiled
Silenced
Alone
What we were left with:
Nothing
A shocked father who never recovered
And died.
No wages
Scars
Hatred of Men
No children
No house
A space where a uterus once was
Booze
Smoking
Guilt
Shame What we got called:
Ianfu-Comfort Women
Shugyofu-Women Of Indecent Occupation
What we felt:
My chest still trembles
What got taken:
The springtime
My life
What we are:
74
79
84
93
Blind
Slow
Ready
Outside the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday
No longer afraid

What we want:
Now soon
Before weíre gone
And our stories leave this world,
Leave our heads

Japanese government
Say it
Please.
We are sorry, Comfort Women
Say it to me
We are sorry to me
We are sorry to me
To me
To me
To me
Say it.
Say sorry
Say we are sorry
Say Me
See Me
Say it
Sorry.
(Based on The Testimonies of The Comfort Women)

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South Korea…The Home Stretch

I taught my Middle School 3rd graders (US, 8th grade equivalent) Seasons of Love from one of my favorite musicals, RENT.  Here they are saying something they will remember from middle school.  Most of my students will not be going to the same high school so this year will be their last year with me as their teacher as well as with each other, for many of them.

My last couple weeks of being in S. Korea are creeping up on me!  I realize I have not made many blog posts this year about Korea and I think it is because there has been so much that I have been doing and I would not even know where to start! Ever since my moldy apartment situation was taken care of a couple months after I arrived, everything has been great!  From July, 2010-June, 2011, I worked at two schools.  One which was my main school that had the same middle school students every week who I love dearly.  The other half of the week, I worked at the Jeongseon English Experience Center (JEEC) where elementary and middle school students from all around the whole county come once a year to practice English in a “hands-on” environment.  At JEEC there is a pretend airport, bank, hospital, library, hotel, post office and shopping center.  Needless to say, between my main school, JEEC, and also working toward my M.A. in International Education at SIT, I kept myself busy!  On the weekends, when I was not absorbing the natural beauty of the rivers and mountains in my small town, I was exploring South Korea; usually with my partner-in-crime, Lysianne.  Lysianne is from England but I have made some great friends from all over the English speaking world- South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK and Ireland.  From the southern beach city of Busan to the DMZ bordering the north, we have had some unforgettable experiences together across Korea.  My week days were just as fun-filled.  I played volleyball twice a week with a team of all old Korean men who were surprisingly really good and welcoming to me, even though we could not really communicate!  Wednesdays in Jeongseon became what we called, “family night” and my foreigner friends would take turns cooking for each other or going out to eat. On average, Lysianne and I would hit up one of the four Norebangs once a week, which is funny that there are so many considering how small our town is.  Norebangs are private singing rooms with karaoke machine hook-ups, disco lights and tambourines. There is no doubt in my mind that I will miss it here.  Where can you go sing Karaoke with a bunch of friends at 2am after an already exciting night filled with fried chicken and screen golf?  Korean culture is so vast and Koreans are eager to share their culture with you.  Not to mention the food is amazing.  Before coming here, I would have never thought about South Korea as a travel destination.  Usually people who want to visit northeast Asia opt for China or Japan.  Now that I’ve lived here for almost a year, I would recommend it to anyone.  While its sad to think about leaving my super fun and easy life here, I am SOO excited for my next leg of my life’s adventure.

I was selected for an internship on the Semester At Sea Fall 2011 voyage.  I will be working as the Assistant Field Office Coordinator, a position that wears many hats- some that I don’t even know about yet.  What I do know is the fabulous itinerary!  I’ll board the ship in Boston with other staff and faculty on August 21st and we will not return until December 13th to Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  In between, we will literally be sailing around the world, and through the panama canal, stopping off at the following cities:

  • Casablanca, Morocco
  • Takoradi, Ghana
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Port Louis, Mauritius
  • Chennai, India
  • Penang, Malaysia
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
  • Hong Kong / Shanghai, China
  • Taipei, Taiwan
  • Hilo, Hawaii, USA
  • Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Havana, Cuba
I bought a Groupon for a photobook and just finished it before my voucher expired.  I won’t see the hard copy until I get home but here is the online edition!

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0AYsmbhs2bOGTjI

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Penis Park, Korea

This video is from when Gio visited me in Korea for my birthday.  It was so special and we went to all the must go places….like Penis Park!  Good times!

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