Tag Archives: party

We all deserve a ‘Spring Break’, yes even you. *Mud Festival*

The closest I came to a proper Spring Break in college was a week spent at my friend’s grandmother’s condo in Naples, Florida. We lounged on the beach reading books and soaking in the sun and we couldn’t help but overhear the older women surrounding us discussing the newest Dancing with the Stars scandal and which new sandwich recipe they were attempting for their golfing husband’s lunch packs. It was a fantastic week: we somehow scored a few Coronas, watched Lost on an old comical TV that distorted the characters heads, slept 9+ hours each night and bonded over the silly experience of living among the retirees of America. It wasn’t the Spring Break you see in the movies, but it was an escape from the reality of college exams and the bitter cold of northern NY. The Boryeong Mud Festival has been called the ‘Spring Break for foreigners in Korea’, and although I consider myself well beyond (gulp!) my college years, or at least maybe a tad bit more mature and less likely to party more nights of the week than not, I did itch to experience this alternative Spring Break – with a Korean twist of course.

The annual festival takes place each summer in Boryeong, a few hours south of Seoul. The first Mud Festival took place in 1998 and now more than 2 million people travel to the 2 week long celebration of mud. The mud is trucked into the Daecheon beach area from surrounding mud flats and is dumped into pools and wrestling pits, painted onto bodies, poured down slides and sold in popular mud cosmetics. My friends and I traveled with an organized group from Seoul and we arrived late Friday night, the night before the first official day of the festival. We slept for a few hours and were woken by our group leader at 8:30am with a breakfast bowl of watermelon soaked in soju (If you ask me, it was more like soju soaked in some watermelon…). We tried to shake our morning grogginess as he taught us silly Korean phrases and encouraged us to finish our nutritional breakfast. A half hour later we were dressed in our swim suits, no longer sleepy, maybe a bit buzzed, but ready to get dirty.

Saturday was a blur. I had a blast: I got muddy racing through obstacle courses, wrestling and slipping down steep muddy slides, swam in the ocean, drank a few too many beers + soju, ran into many foreigner friends from all over Korea and danced to a live DJ in a muddy mosh pit on the beach. As much fun as Saturday was, I woke up on Sunday ready to return to Seoul and take a real shower. Mud Festival was fantastic but I couldn’t imagine surviving an entire week of the Boryeong craziness. We dressed in our dry clothes and went to find our bus to head home. Walking back through the festival grounds I came across an older couple caked in mud, beers in hand and smiling all over. I asked to snap a photo of them and they gladly posed for my camera. Later on the bus as I scrolled back through my pictures the couple’s shot stood out to me and I realized they were enjoying their own Spring Break in Boryeong. We all need a Spring Break every once in awhile: a day or two to let loose and forget your age and your smart phone in the hotel room (It will get muddy if you bring it, I promise).

Breakfast of Mud Festival

Reunited with a friend from college!

Time to swim –>Daecheon Beach

I hope this is me in 40 years.

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“You know this boogie is for real.” – a Children’s Day extravaganza

I start most of my classes with an introduction to the day: What day is it today? What day was it yesterday? How is the weather today?…you get the idea. So when I flipped the classroom calendar to May my kids were quick to fill me in on the most important day of the month. Children’s Day (어린이날)  is celebrated every May 5 and became a public holiday in 1975. The day is meant to “esteem the personalities of children and plan for their happiness” (Wikipedia), although what I gathered from my students was: presents, presents and more presents. Parents and grandparents give gifts to their children and spend time with them either at home or on an excursion of sorts (zoo, museum, movies, mall, etc).

This year Children’s Day fell on a Saturday, so sadly there was no day off to enjoy, but we still found time to celebrate in school. My principal informed us we were to have a “special day” and left the teachers to party plan. Because we have two different groups of students, some come M/W/F and others T/TH, we had one party on Thursday and one on Friday. I decided that Musical Chairs would be an active (Please don’t get too loud, too rowdy or hurt!), competitive (Don’t cry if you get out first and please don’t cheat!)  and overall fun (Please dance! Please dance! Please dance?) game…and it was… after a few “practice” rounds. We also played a calm game of ‘Simon Says’ to throw in some English conversation and let the kids calm down after dancing around a room of chairs. Lastly, each student was gifted a cute program t-shirt and a gigantic bowl of snacks and a juice box. Solid party.

*****

Secretary Clinton’s Message on Republic of Korea’s Children’s Day (2010)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Washington, DC
May 4, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I offer warm wishes to all the boys and girls of Korea on Children’s Day. On this holiday, Korean families celebrate the joys of childhood and family life. This is also an opportunity to reaffirm the strong commitment that both our countries share to promoting childhood health, safety and education, and to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to live up to his or her full God-given potential.

Many thousands of American children from military families have lived in Korea over the last six decades, and thousands of Korean children have attended school in the United States. Our two countries are stronger and closer because of the cultural understanding and unique perspectives that these children will always carry with them. (seoul.usembassy.gov)

*****

 Most other academic days are highly structured and filled with reading, writing and speaking English, so it was nice to let loose and experience my students enjoying the party. I struggle with the fact that Korean children have little time to be kids. They are up each morning for school and then shuffle from one Hagwon (private academy – I work at one) to another (sometimes until 10pm) and then head home to finish homework and sleep before the next day. Although I wish my students had more time to play with imaginary friends and be “bored”, I wouldn’t be here teaching in a Hagwon if this was the case. I do feel for my kids when they answer my “How are you today?” with a “I’m tired teacher.” but all I can do is acknowledge their creative answer (anything other than “I’m fine thanks and you?” is considered praiseworthy), move on, try to keep the class animated and make sure no eyelids droop.

It was a pretty successful Children’s Day: the sweaty and exhausted kiddos headed home with gifts and thoughts of more  to come on Saturday, and I was left with the memory of some of the funniest/cutest kids I know showing off their dance moves to Jamiroquai’s ‘Canned Heat’ – priceless. 🙂

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