As I write this I am still blurry eyed and exhausted from pre-Winter Vacation madness. It's taken me a day and a half to recover enough to try and document the hilarity and insanity that occurred on Friday. I was in high spirits even though I've been a little sick (I am constantly sick here and so is Matt- it must be Korean super germs or maybe the lack of real cold weather) and I had to get up early to primp and groom (which resulted in no breakfast. Dammit.). Shortly after getting to work the hysteria began when we had to help all the kids get changed into their costumes for their Musical English plays (half of the kids were putting on Peter Pan and the rest were performing Beauty and the Beast). These costumes just blew me away. As I told Jon Teacher, I haven't seen that much spandex and sequins since I was in figure skating. I also have no idea what kind of drugs the person who created these plays were on since I've never heard of anything even remotely similar to the versions of these fairytales that the children performed. They were all pretty adorable though and it was really funny.
Of course, immediately my little Steven started looking terrified and forlorn. Even though he'd been cast as one of the 2 Spidermen (and he loves Spiderman) he was unwilling to change into costume. He cried for awhile and things were looking grim but then Kelly Teacher saved the day, cheered him up and convinced him to put on the costume. We practiced our Christmas songs a few times (I took a video of one song but it's on Jon's camera so I'll have to post it up later) and then it was time for the plays to start.
I only watched Peter Pan since that's the one my Lions were in and during the other one we were upstairs. It was really bizarre and strange and hilarious. Maybe even a little inappropriate at times (like when Captain Hook- played by a female, ran her hook up and down Wendy and said, "Wendy I love you, will you marry me?"). Also, I had forgotten how much I loved the part when the 2 Spidermen capture Wendy on her birthday and then a clip from the Rocky theme is played mixed in with some 90s techno music while she is being saved. The parents seemed to be entertained although I couldn't follow the plot at all and was entertained for that reason.
After the plays the kids sang their Christmas carols (so cute and my kids did pretty well and weren't too afraid of the big crowd of parents with their massive cameras) and then Santa Claus came and handed out presents. I think Matt did a pretty excellent job being Santa but the true highlight was when it was time for my Lion Brian to get his present. You see, the parents had supplied the gift for their kids so we had presents of all different sizes, etc. The kids before Brian had gotten HUGE boxes and then Brian's present was much smaller in size. Well I just about peed my pants as Brian continally shook his little head, stretched out his tiny arms and cried, "No! A big one!". He kept this up for a couple minutes before accepting his gift. Later he was given a second present to appease him (the school had brought extras in case a parent had forgotten). It was pretty priceless though and just perfect.
Then we had a big potluck lunch and got to mingle with the parents and kids. I ate a lot of bacon and sausage because apparently one of the mothers had bought it especially for the foreign teachers. It's really interesting what kind of assumptions and misconceptions people have of eachother. There were a few parents who were impressed we could use chopsticks. I mean, how shameful would that be if I lived here for close to 4 months and couldn't use chopsticks. Lunch was really delicious and after we ate I was surprised by Daniel's Mommy with a 50,000 Won giftcard (Kelly got one too) that I can use at a variety of places. And since Michelle Teacher is leaving, she and Matt were saddled into a big Bear and Dolphin mommy get together which turned into a bit of an interview for Matt. At the end of it they handed Michelle an envelope full of money for the 4 of us (Michelle, Lewis, Matt and I) to go out to dinner with. Michelle and Matt just split the money though since they are really busy planning their wedding and it would be tough to match our schedules. This means that we have an extra 75,000 Won. Woohoo! We were both pretty shocked and a little horrified but I guess it's a pretty common occurance here (although less now since it's illegal for parents to give these kinds of gifts to public school teachers- we're a private hogwan though).
Finally the kindergarten portion of the day was over and we rested up, tidied up and prepared for the elementary classes. We were holding a Golden Bell quiz with prizes. Lewis said that he was a bit disappointed since the kids weren't really excited about it like when they did one 2 years ago but I think they are too tired and overworked right now to want to study extra material for a "fun" quiz. Two years ago they weren't doing Winter Intensive classes either.... Hmmm.... Anyway, one of my students (who I thought would win) won the Golden Bell for the younger classes and one of Matt's students (who he'd predicted would win) won the Golden Bell for the older classes. I was a quizmaster for the younger kids although it would have been fun to have been with the classes that weren't doing the Golden Bell (my elementary phonics class, for example) because they were coloring pictures and just being cute. They all hugged me and one of my phonics kids gave me a Christmas card that said "To Ember Teacher". I suppose this means we need to work a bit harder on the distinction between the A and E sounds or perhaps I need to stop slurring my name. It was really cute though.
After the Golden Bell we cleaned up and Lewis gave us some final Saipan trip information. We got to take a lot of food home that was leftover from lunch and we stopped to buy some crappy Korean beer to celebrate. It's good to be on vacation!
Here are kinder-Christmas pictures. All of them are found here though.
This is the Christmas card Max made for his parents. I really liked how his snowman had 8 legs and how on the back he drew his family and included his pet ants in a heart.
Kelly and I with our Lions. Ben and Max were mice, Daniel and Steven were both Spiderman and Brian was Buddy the dog.
I don't think they could have found a better costume for our crazy little Charlie. He's apparently one half of the Magic Gate but he looks a bit like the Little Mermaid to me.
Matt's classes; Daniel and I.
Jon entertained the masses while we waited for showtime. Paige with Andy (he's a rainbow) and Frances (Captain Hook).
For the finale all the classes sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" together.
Santa and his list.