Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
Hot summer weather lasted all the way into October and quickly transformed into a very chilly autumn. Everyone I know had at least one day with sinus problems, or in fact even caught a mild cold, as the weather drastically changed almost immediately. Notwithstanding my unfortunate occurrence of having dealt with multiple sinus issues, the autumn colors and morning sunrises certainly have had its affect to bring me lasting peace.
In addition, it’s fascinating to witness waves of low-riding fog rush through the countryside. It almost looks as if there’s a giant brush fire conquering the valley.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve written anything substantial, and I must say that I’ve pretty much been detained with work, church-related activities, teaching an English essay-writing class for Korean teachers, and starting the “Rainbow Archway Project” at my elementary school. After obtaining a successful result from the “milk carton project” last summer and winning close to $300, which could be used on another project, my principal duly suggested that my co-teacher and I should continue teaching our “Art in Action” class. With having done an acting/theater class last year and a 3-d Art class last semester, my co-teacher and I wished to do something different.
Not before long we discussed the idea of building something in the open space amid a batch of trees behind our school. After examining the open area accommpanied with our new students, my co-teacher and students quickly suggested that we should build some kind of “Rainbow Archway.” Both my co-teacher and our students essentially used those exact words. It was genius. However, my co-teacher immediately realized there was a problem when he questioned, “How can we build it?”
“I know how we can build it,” I retorted.
“You do?” my co-teacher questioned amid being surprised.
‘Sure!” I exclaimed.
After explaining that I had worked construction for several summers during my college years building and erecting many structures similar to what my co-teacher and students were proposing, it fostered a sigh of relief. After this, my co-teacher essentially took the reigns and began planning the project and how it would be best implemented for students to learn a quantity of information and gain a great experience amid it all. In addition, he’s a math whiz and was very delighted to take charge with all the budget-related planning and initial measurements. I negotiated that my main role would be mainly teaching and assisting with a variety of technical skills and aesthetic work, in addition to being the main workhorse for tasks that need a lot of strength and specific technical skill. With how it’s going so far, I’ve been kept busy.
The first few once-a-week classes were used for introducing and instructing on how to make a visual model that would serve as the basis for our project, in addition to teaching vocabulary and commands that would be generally used. Due to time constraints that I will explain a bit later, the simple model was somewhat slapdashed together a little faster than I would have liked, but it sufficed.
After creating a model, it was shown to our administration and we received the approval to commence our project. The next step: Measurements.
The overall measuring of the archway in order to create the best dynamic dimension took quite a bit of time as several changes were made to account for the confined space, but once it was it completed, we all knew and could envision the finished project. The next step was to determine how much wood we would need, the size of wood, and other tools that would be essentially necessary to complete it. My co-teacher and I visited a lumber supplier not far away and I quickly discovered that wood in Korea was 2-3 times more expensive than in the US. When my co-teacher informed me about how much a three-meter piece of 2×4 treated wood would be, I staggered and shook my head in utter disbelief. Wow, I thought. This was going to cost over twice the amount I had initially pondered, leaving both my co-teacher and I forced to discuss if we wish front over $300 each for the wood and other supplies we’d need. Both of us were honestly hesitant, so I suggested that we ask our principal to ascertain if our school can assist with the cost of this project before we shovel out a large wad of cash from our own pockets. In addition, I explained that this would give our administration a direct hand in helping our students create something for their school that they would remember all their lives and that would last for decades. My co-teacher concurred and the next day he sought approval from our administration and quickly got it. In addition to the 300,000won ($290) we already had from the “milk carton project,” our principal/our school gave us an extra 500,000won ($470). What a surprise! We were thrilled and excited, and the following day the wood was ordered.
Amid waiting for the wood to arrive, it was time to take on the tough task of digging post-holes. Even before the wood was ordered, I ardently suggested that we’d need to get a post-hole digger in order to create slim, even holes, as well as cut down on time and effort in digging. We searched through some of the largest hardware outlets in the area, in addition to canvassing the internet, but it appeared manual post-hole diggers were not sold at all in Korea. Again, I was surprised. “Well, it’s shovel-time,” I recalled saying. So, the hard undertaking of digging holes began…
Digging all 36 holes was a tough task, but once completed, we were all relieved.
With the wood having just arrived, it was time to make bracing-stakes from junk wood that our school had piled away with which will be used to help keep posts level and in place before being finally cemented into the ground. After demonstrated what I wanted, students pleasantly dove right into making several dozen.
Amid digging holes, my co-teacher had informed me of a contest for Native English Teachers in Korea, on which our school could win up to $1000 for the best English-teaching related activity. After telling me this, I immediately thought hands down that our project could win. No one else I know in Korea has even come close to doing something like this, and with how we’ve been photographing and documenting everything we’ve been doing, we’ll have plenty of things to show and talk about. In addition, the students involved in the project have already demonstrated great progress on their English test scores, which is awesome! I suppose a project like this has fostered lasting motivation. My co-teacher and I started this project for the students, but now, this contest has offered some extra incentive. However, the contest project work is due on November 14th. Therefore, this following week will be crunch-time in order to get it nicely completed. (Update 12/2012 – Co-teacher was too busy to complete necessary essay paperwork and video for contest. No matter, it was a great overall experience for everyone.)
Stay tuned for more to come…