im just one person. for more soko info, please check the fb group BSSK, focused on expats of color

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Subject: RE: THANKS
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 03:07:25 +0000
dear mom and dad,

happy belated memorial day! and dad, i thank you for fighting for our freedom and i hope you enjoyed your much deserved day off.

so my first term is over and i still have a job, so i must be doing pretty ok. there was a lot of grading and evaluating to do so things were a little bit busy. one class made a drawing for me on the last day, with cute little comments, and the phrase "keep in tough!" (meaning "keep in touch") i wanted to lecture them that they should know what "tough" means since it was one of our vocabulary words, but i couldnt muster the strength to, i was so happy for the gesture.

my last class of the term was saturday. little johnny was asking me if i know X student, and Y student, or Z student.. i told him maybe, but i'd have to see their face to know for sure. he then told me that everyone in his reading class (i teach listening) knows me:

"really?" i said. "what did they say?"
johnny "they said that they all like your class best b/c for test, you always give hint."
hmmm... maybe i've been doing too generous a test review...
johnny:"they also said... nevermind."
me: "what???"

i asked johnny if he's ever seen me get truly mad, and of course i wont be angry with whatever the kids said, and please tell me. he said something about the kids think my class is fun and that im funny. i wonder what words the kids used to express that that johnny didnt want to tell me?!

so yesterday was the first day of the new term. im teaching mostly listening classes again, and im glad b/c i love it. i also have the scheduled days i want, so korean classes are just around the corner for me and im excited about that.

dad, thank you again so much for the magazines! i gave them to mayma, the sister from new zealand, when i was done. The other sister, Leah (who helped me so much when i first arrived in korea) is now gone, but i think she's happy to be in a new environment. Dad, can you maybe order one more magazine for me? it's called "american legacy" you can ask brother dave to help fill out the subscription form online. that is, if he can get around to coming by the house. but if not, dont sweat it at all, i found an english book store here that has plenty of things to read at pretty ok prices.

mom, dont cook so much food! it's only you and dad in the house! if there's too much left overs, you know you'll be singing that same song, "oh well, might as well eat it before it spoils." mom, you know that's how you get in trouble. start cooking less, ok?

many are asking how long will i be in korea? at least until february. i cant say what the future will be, but im feeling confident that my contract will be renewed and i'll stay longer, but not without a trip home to san diego for a bit... i have to come home for a while, i gotta have that silk soy milk!

oh hey, i cut my hair off again. the students were dumbstruck. my coworkers loved it, all the boys said i looked HOT and all the girls said i look way younger. i'll try to send pictures. ~daughter

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 12:15:46 +0000
dear mom and dad,

it's my last week with my classes! well, no break really b/c classes start right back up next week, but as i lamented before, it'll be with all new students and i will miss my kids.

thus far this week, classes have been pretty ok. i assumed that since it's the last class, i'd have major discipline issues, and all F's on tests and quizzes. although some scores were low, most of my classes still completed all of their homework, and i even got several A's on exams. i'd like to think that the students love me so much, that they were motivated to study up until the very end!

im loving my new schedule for the next term, i'll have a four day work week as i requested, so that i can free up time to attend korean language class. right now all i can say is "hogwan-ga ka jus say yo." hogwan ga is the street that my school is on, "ka" means go, i think, and "jus say yo" means "i want," or "i need" in a polite way.i use it with the cab driver. Oh! i can also say, "hanna" which means "one." dad, i guess if you were in korea back in the day, that's where you're korean would end, b/c you'd then know how to order a beer at the bar. ha!

hey, i discovered PEPSI MAX, forget about coke zero!!! why oh why havent i discovered this drink earlier?! i wikipedia'ed it and the beverage is not available in the states. i couldnt find out why. if i come home from korea with an extra eyeball or with green skin or something, we may want to think about suing the pepsi company. whatever, so long as it's zero calories! mom, still drinking coke zero and sprite zero? every little bit counts.

dad, i did some stuff at the bank the other day and will send money for the credit card next month. do i wire it to checking, right? not savings? i think i remember you saying the savings was for grandma? let me know.

i met up with some neighbors in my apt buildings, a couple from new zealand and a guy from new jersey. the new jersey guy has two cats. im very jealous. i told him that if he ever needs a cat-sitter when he goes out of town, to call me. ~daughter

Sunday, May 20, 2007


hi pare! i read those lines you wrote about the cats and my eyes tear up, i miss them so much. i try just to not think about them b/c i get sad.

i want to get a cat here, but the landlord wont allow it. there are lots of DOGS in my apartment building tho! not fair! >:(

pare, im getting settled quite well here, im at the internet cafe, in the no smoking section, and this jackass sitting two seats away from me just lit up a cigarette! >:( honestly, i love it here in korea, but i cant stand the smoking. youre allowed to smoke indoors here, youre allowed to smoke anywhere, and if someone is smoking in the no smoking section, nobody says boo. it sucks.

hey did i tell you about the onion trick? that putting it in the fridge and cutting it cold will prevent tears? i use that a lot, b/c i cook a lot of onion for my food here. you know how i love onions. ~mare.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Date: Sat, 19 May 2007 12:01:33 +0000
dear mom and dad,

i got my first cable bill today. i think it says the bill is 5$. one of the kids at the school helped me out with reading it, as well as writing my adrs in english. it looks different from what i gave you before, but after talking to a couple of people, i guess so long as you have the crucial bits of info, the mail gets there...

Sister Sha in Seoul
Kyunggi Do, Anyang City,
Dong An Gu, Burim Dong 1598-1
Dongyang Tres Belle Officetel #915
post code 431-815
South Korea

we're down to the last week of the term. it's been 3 months already, wow. some students have been a little more naughty with their cell phones, as my colleagues tell me this is common at the end of the term. the kids text message like crazy, like over 100 messages a day! can you imagine? i know that back home, unless it's a part of your plan, you need to lay off the texting! i remember i spend over 20$ on text alone one month. but i guess here, where the texting is cheap if not free, it's good for the students. they are so busy always with all their school work, maybe texting is one of the few ways they can even keep in contact and socialize with each other.

i'll only have one more saturday with little jonny! i like him so much, but i hope he is not my student next semester! he has been one of my most difficult students, but one of my favorites. he is so smart, but the grades dont reflect it, bummer. today in class i told him that he is lucky that he is my student on saturday (b/c for sure during the week im not so relaxed and the kids never behave the way he does. jonny tells me, "sister sha, you're happy that you have naughty student, b/c then you can play." :) little shit!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Subject: circles
Date: Thu, 17 May 2007 06:41:50 +0000
dear mom and dad,

we are on week 12 of our 13 week term, woo! the grading and ranking system here is weird... and that's all i'll say about that.

the other day i was sitting at a desk with one of the kids, helping him with the reader, and he asks me, "why is your hair circles?" referring to the comb curls at the end of my locks. i told him b/c my hair is very curly. he of course asked, "why?" i explain b/c im black, and it's common for black people to have curly hair. he then asked (of course, question after question) why dont i just cut my hair. i explained that my hair will not grow back straight, it would still be curly. then a group of like 5 kids broke out in an excited mini-conversation in korean, at which i told them, "we're in english class. english please." and they all giggle and get back to work.

interesting observations the kids have sometimes. i was in the middle of a lecture once and a girl raised her hand, "Sister Sha! your hands are very bright." referring to my palms. :) and "Sister Sha! your hair... is very long."

well, this term is almost over and then we go straight into another with whole new sets of kids. i hope i get some of mine again, i miss them already.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

dont tell my mom

wow, i started writing this 5/07??? it's 11/08 right now; while cleaning up this blog, i came across this draft i never finished/published. enjoy!

nothing to do with esl/korea. here's a little side story: this poster hung in a display case at the Hair Museum in my neighborhood back home. i drove/dropped by constantly to see when they were open, there wasnt a sign on the door. there was a phone number which i called relentlessly, but no one ever answered. the one time someone did, i was told that the museum was only open by appointment. i was so annoyed about it, that the last time i went there, i messed around w/the display case and stole their posters. i told myself i was saving them, b/c the case was becoming really tattered graffittied and someone like me should have those posters before they get damaged, and that person should be me b/c i wanted/loved them so much. they hung on my walls in my apt. Years later w/ helping to plan the big saturday, i assisted w/a hair segment: we had some people represent locs, sistaslocs, and agape locs, we had a discussion about white aesthetics and it's influence on our concepts of beauty, etc. i got a couple of copies of the blkhair dvd as door prizes. I called the Hair Museum to ask if someone could table, or at least get some flyers and such to set up a table myself, and i asked for copies of their dvd for door prizes (which i offered to pay for). I left message after message and they never got back to me. *pish* black people. ANYWAYS, since they didnt come through, i put up the posters as decor for the big saturday hair segement. i never got the posters back b/c then i'd left for korea. i wonder where they are now? damn, i loved those posters. hair politics used to be my shizz. i was so sure i was going to grad school to do more research and become the premiere scholar on it. well, maybe i still will someday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Subject: EGGS
Date: Tue, 8 May 2007 07:22:43 +0000
dear mom and dad,

mom, i got your card the other day! thank you! and dad, no worries that you havent replied to emails, i know that those basketball games arent going to watch themselves :) and for the record, when did i have a WHITE boyfriend? marc was filipino!

anyway, things here are good. im happy to see my students again after them being gone for 2-3 weeks. one boy, charles, came back with a haircut, he hates it. i wasnt aware, but many schools here: not only are the students to wear a uniform, but they are also keep a certain haircut. it used to be that the boys AND girls had to have short hair in a certain style, X number of centimeters above the ear; something about making sure the students would keep all focus on their studies. it's not quite as strict now, but i guess the occasional teacher will insist on a hair cut and the kids have no choice but to submit. at least charles didnt have his hair cut DURING class, BY THE TEACHER, which i've heard is the way it used to be. put a bowl on the head and everything.

<--- sha in 1999
i ws watching something on tv the other day about teens and their hair. students rallied for less strict hair rules. "my hair will not interfere with my studies!" they call out. it occurred to me that , yeah, the kids have so sooo many restrictions on them already, and so much WORK already (public school, academies after school, private tutors, music lessons, etc) they want to have just ONE thing to express themselves. everyone, and i mean every one in korea has straight black hair, not like back home where everyone's hair is a different color/texture. {pink locks being the most beautiful of all styles :) }

Anyway, many students here try to style their hair to make them stand out. a lot of girls have very voluminous hair, boys often have long-ish hair with gel or some sort of sculpting product on it.

mom and dad, about the eggs, just consider this: one whole egg is 97 calories. One egg white: 17. im just sayin.' if you make that omelet with one less egg yolk, you wont even miss it.

and hey the tv WAS broken! after i knocked it over, i put it upright and tried it, it didnt work. it made a popping noise, and i saw the little red light indicating that it was on, but there was no picture. when i came home a few hours later, it turned on like nothing happened. i told you, i have magic powers. i made the tv work again. well now my homegirl and her husband have it, so it's cool, my new tv matches the couch, i love it. ~daughter

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Date: Fri, 4 May 2007 02:14:00 -070o
Subject: RE: south korea
Whats up Sha,

So whats the scoop over there now? Have ou settlked in to a routine yet? What have you found to be dfferent? whats th same? Id like to know i was curious about the teaching in Korea before i came to Japan. Aarron

Date: 6 May 2007
Subject: RE: south korea
hi aaron!

the scoop... i dont hve any other esl jobs to compare it to, but i love it here. i have settled into routine, i really like my students and i like> my coworkers, things is gravy.

i dont know if ive thanked you lately, for sure you are part of the reason im here. i think about that one night, i was working graveyard shift and you logged into messenger at like 2am san diego time. it was like, BOOM you'd been gone 2 years and it woke me up. AND when nova turned me down, you my friend encouraged me to apply elsewhere. im so friggin happy here. thank you.

it's for sure been much smoother living here than i thought it would be. the language barrier has been hard, but it hasnt made living here intolerable. i'd prepared for all kinds of problems, but there've been no issues with getting sick so far, no constipation or diarrea like my other poor colleagues, a little bit of discrimination here and there but ive not experienced anything worse than i have back home.

i actually feel more free here. but i think that has to do with for the first time having my OWN place and my OWN money, etc. You and your girlfriend are welcome to visit anytime, i'd love to see you. if you can get a month free, email that woman about the summer camp. with your experience, you'd breeze through it im sure. ~sha

Saturday, May 5, 2007

this is my friend carlos when he was a kid.
i like to look at this every once in a while, makes me happy.

Friday, May 4, 2007


Date: Fri, 4 May 2007 12:43:52 +000
Dear mom and dad,

Beautiful weather here these last couple of days. It’s wonderful, like home.

I got my new tv, the delivery guys from emart delivered and set it up for me, making sure all my channels worked, they were super nice. I thanked them, and they left. It still feels strange, I don’t know what to do to show my appreciation for people. You’re not supposed to tip here in korea, ever. This is SO different from Ghana! In Ghana you could walk down the street, and some random person will start to walk with you and chat. By the end of the road, they want a tip for being your guide! But here in korea, somebody does something for you and all you say is “thank you” and leave it at that.

One of the Korean staff at my school has been such a help to me, helping me get cable, and talking on the phone and making appointments for me, etc. I didn’t know what to do for her! I gave her fruit. I think that’s ok, someone mentioned to me once how expensive fruit often is here and that it makes a nice gift. That, or liquor. I think for men, youre supposed to give jim beam or something. Not sure. I don’t know much about liquor, so the fruit won in my book.

Anyway, I love the tv, it matches the couch, I feel like such a grown up having coordinated furniture.

i had my first day back of full classes today, but it wasnt so fun b/c the students had to take this big exam (for their english comprehension, to determine what class they'll be in next term). i felt so bad! i hadnt seen my kids in two weeks and then when i do it's like, "Hi guys! ok, we're about to take a 3 hour test, welcome back!" they ploughed through it, i think i took it harder than the kids did. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Subject: eggs
Date: Thu, 3 May 2007 11:40:13 +0000
dear mom and dad,

im am on the quest for fat free yogurt here in korea. there are yogurt drinks everywhere, and full on yogurt, but no fat free yogurt. it's been so long that i'd lived on fat free yoplait strawberry that when i tried the full fat version, it just tasted like... like i dont even know. like thick heavy cream. with extra milk flavorings. it was too much.

i peeked around on the internet and a few foreigners just buy yogurt makers and make their OWN yogurt! maybe that is what i will do. well, i had that wonderful soy milk maker for so long... and never used it once. but oh how i loved just HAVING it!

how was david's birthday? i called and left him a message, not sure if he got it tho. wow, david is 30. and im 31. woo!

ive taken to eating egg whites lately, they're an excellent source of protein and only 17 calories per egg white. so dad!!! from now on when you make breakfast for you and mom, start thinking about using just one whole egg and one egg white. it'll really cut down on the fat and cholesterol. just a suggestion. ~sha.