say what

Reflections on Truths and Lies in Fiction Writing

The first class of Writing Fiction is writing about lies and truths (see previous post)

We were then supposed to read other people’s paragraphs and answer these questions:

  • Is there anything that distinguishes the fictitious elements?
  • Are there common elements that you and your fellow writers write about as ‘facts’?
  • Do any of these passages suggest stories to you?

You know, sometimes it was really hard to tell what was fictitious and what was not when I was reading other people’s paragraphs. Everyone wrote about really different things, but I thought that some people’s paragraphs felt like it could ALL  be true.

I think the line between fiction and nonfiction can be really grey depending on the topic/details.

I think what made things stand out as being fictitious is when it seemed really over the top, something that was just TOO incredible or coincidental to believe. But perhaps I’m wrong and it was the truth, and something else mundane was the lie.

I’ve had some CRAZY things happen to me in Korea that when I try to explaining to people at home, they just can’t understand or believe.

say what

Actually, the paragraphs I wrote for this assignment were about my life in Korea, but I twisted it a lot for the lying paragraphs. But had I not told you most of it was a lie, would you believe it’s true? Most people don’t know a lot about Korea, so I could tell you “this is true!” and you might believe me.

The same goes for talking to people in Korea about America. For example, as a joke I tell my students I’m friends with Obama. They always says “Teacher!! REALLY? No!! LIAR!” but then I shake my head (no smiling or laughing) and say, “Yes! Really!”

Barney, minus the drinking at school, ha

Barney, minus the drinking at school, ha

Because I look so serious, and I am from D.C., some of them actually believe me! Or, at least, they have enough doubt in their mind to ask my co-teacher if I am lying or not.

obama dancing gif

This is so epic. Whoever made this, I love you!

It seems easier to lie about things you know something about, versus something you know nothing about, at least for me.

I think this is important for fiction writing. If you want to lend more weight to your writing you should add details of “truthfulness” even if your story is entirely fictitious.

I don’t think there are many common elements that the other writers and I are using as facts because all of our paragraphs are SO different. There are so many  different topics, different points of view, and different styles. Even if you gave two writers the same 3 lies, 1 truth to work with, the paragraphs they would write would differ and I might not think they actually have the same truth.

Actually, this seems like an interesting experiment. Give a group of writers the same 3 lies, 1 truth and see what they come up with. Then ask other people unrelated to the task to figure out the truth and the lies.

experiment

A lot of these paragraphs seem like they could be short stories or  that they could even developed into longer stories. Even just writing my two paragraphs I felt like I could maybe turn it into a larger story of some kind if I gave it more thought…. We shall see!

Copy-cat

One of my middle schools just had a school festival and during that time a bunch of student art work was on display.

There was a whole section of tree art done by 1st graders (7th grade USA) and this one picture particularly stood out for me with it’s vivid contrast of Pink and Green.

This picture is poor quality and taken with my phone but you can get an idea of what it looked like.

Fast forward to a water color painting party with my friends. I decided to copy that painting colors and image because I really admired it. So here’s my version of the tree.

Haven’t tried painting with watercolors in years! Fun experiment.

I’m not sure if I can track down the student who made the original painting since I don’t teach them and the name is really blurred, but if I can I want to tell them their art inspired me.

I bet in a million years they would have never thought the random foreign teacher at their school would like their art so much she would copy it.

Exo

Diversity Comics, Year 2

This is Year 2 of teaching my students about Diversity in America.

My lesson originated from some Middle School students’ comments “Teacher. Black skin, not good.”

In Korea they are all about having porcelain skin. If a student has darker skin they often are teased “You African! You India! Black skin!”

Every time I hear this I am shocked because I view people of all  skin tones equally. I would  never even think darker skin= bad, because to me that is such a narrow, old school world view.

In a effort to expose my students to more diversity I talked about my friends at home and how they are all different from me in terms of languages, skin tone, religion, etc. Then we watched a Simpsons video called “Mypods and Boomsticks” which discusses how Homer believes Muslims to be terrorists until he learns the error of his ways.

Then I discussed my experience of living in Korea as a “FOREIGNER!” Everywhere I go, everything I do Koreans watch and observe me or try to interact with me. I don’t speak Korean fluently and I didn’t know much about Korean food or KPOP before I moved here. It  was and still is at times hard to live here.

With that in mind I created the following scenario:

Imagine you and your family move to a new country: Mexico.  You look different from most people. You can’t speak the language (Spanish). You don’t know what music the kids like. You don’t know the food they like to eat.

You meet a Mexican Boy or Girl who wants to learn more about Korea and you. What do you talk about? Korean food? K-Pop? Clothing? Make a comic discussing something about Korea.

Here are some of the best comics from this year

 

Note that a lot of the “Mexican” characters have blonde hair and blue eyes… I think they were using me as a model, despite the fact I’m not Mexican.

While I think that this lesson got some of the students thinking about how different things are in America, I think it would be better to have the students get a chance to interact with more diverse people.

In my city there aren’t a lot of people with darker skin. If the students see a person like that, they probably see them from afar and don’t get to actually interact with them.

I hope one day they can all go to America or another diverse country and experience diversity for themselves.

Mostly Hilarious Responses about Student’s vacations (and a few thought provoking ones)

This week I asked my student’s to write answers to two questions:

1) What did you do on the school trip? (3 day excursion in which all three grades went to various locations in Korea)

2) What are your plans for summer vacation? What will you do?

The funniest/ most interesting answers so far.

Question 1: What did you do on the school trip?

-I rode a banana bort (several students wrote this)
-I had a sneck party.
-I ate snake (SNAKE!?!? No teacher, Snack! Snack!)
-I went to the simming pool (they played Sims all day in the pool)
-I went highking
-I rode a motherboat
-I ate photato chips. (Photogenic Potato chips?)

Question 2: What are your plans for summer vacation? What will you do?

-I will drink milk a lot.
-I will read 100 books at the library (love this girl’s ambition! she is a mini version of myself)
-My mother will lay a baby (I died. Absolutely died!)
-I will go to the ocean which is a swimming pool.

Many students (mostly skinny girls) wrote this

-I will exercise
-I will diet.

One boy wrote:
-I will lose weight and celebrate myself

One girl wrote :
-I will diet. I will have perfect body.

This makes me feel a little sad because already she is really thin. On her paper and on all the other kids I wrote: Why? You are so skinny !

Koreans face a huge pressure to maintain a certain weight and have a certain image. But when I hear these girls say “I need to diet” I think they have a disproportion sense of self. They are tiny. They don’t need to diet.

Ain't nobody got time to help people

Asking South Korean students (13/14 years old) to tell me about their life

Recently I had a writing assignment for my 2nd Grade Middle School Students  (8th grade America)

First they took a job quiz with their partner  and then they  had to fill out worksheet that looked like the following:

 

My partner’s job is _______________________.

My name is _________________. I am ________ years old. My best friend is named ________. I like (him/her) because (he/she) is ___________________.

 

I am interested in _________________. I am not interested in _________________.

Next year, I will _____________

In the future, my job will be a ___________________ <–write result from activity #1 here)

I agree/disagree.

One day I will be_______________________

 

The Funniest Answers from this assignment:

 

My English teacher’s job is model. <— haha I wish 

 

Me as a model

 

My best friend is named Sarah-Teacher. I like her because she has grey eyes. <– out of all the reasons why someone likes me, it’s because of my eyes…  I am gonna start being friends with people based on eye color.  If you have brown, we can’t be friends. My number #1 friend has purple eyes. Green rates higher than blue. Keep this in mind for future reference.

 

Written by a girl: “”I like her because she has nickname crazy girl.’ <–Crazy like this?

 

Written by a Boy: “My best friend is Won Seok. I like him because he is handsome. ”

Written by a Girl: “My best friend is named Shinae. I like her because she is often cute.” <– but not always cute.

“I like her because she is preety and sexy.”

I like him because he is handsome. <— In America you would never say I like my friend because s/he is cute/handsome. This is especially most straight middle school boys. I think it’s cute that in the Korean culture it is normal/ acceptable to say these things.  

If Koreans hugged... . The world would be a better place.

 

“I am interested in having money. I am not interested in helping people.”  <— At least they are honest. 

give it all to me

Ain't got time to help people

“I interested in helping people. I am not interested in being pretty.” <— What I imagine–>

like this

Not like this

 

“I am interested in studying Pashion….. I want to be a Pashion designer.” <— I want to be a Passionate Fashion Designer! I have a lot of Passion for Fashion.  PASHION!! 

 

Hopefully her Pashion doesn't invovle Fur coats....

“In the future, my job will be sexy.” <– Sexy what??

Next year, I will have many girlfriend. <— nice to have some ambition in life, ha. 

“One day I will be a good person.”  <— YES!

“One day I will be excellent people.” <— I am excellent people.

Written by a Boy: “One day, I will Yu Min Marry.” <— Not sure if this is referring to a student or an actress….

beethoven

Asking South Korean students (14/15 years old) their opinions about Music

I asked my 3rd grade middle school students (9th grade in America) the question:

Should I listen to this song?

Then they had to watch  bunch of different Music Videos, give it a score from 0-10 and then answer as follows

“Yes, you should because…..”

‘”No, you shouldn’t because….”

 

Although I got many answers from the students like “Yes, you should because it is good” or “No, you shouldn’t because it is boring” some students wrote a few  off the wall, funny, and/or  deeply profound sentences.

The BEST answers I got from my students:

“Ode to Joy” by Beethoven (Classical)

Score: 7 “Yes, you should because it is helping the mind.”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should it has spirit evolution.”

Score: 9 “Yes, you should because it is to slient (care my heart).

Score: 7 “Yes, you should because sweat.”

Score 10: “Yes, you should because it is elegance.”

Score: 10 “It feeds my musical senses full”

Score: 1 “No, you shouldn’t because it’s lazy.”

Score: 5 “No, you shouldn’t because it was not  joyful.” –> I guess they saw this GIF

 

“Rock and Roll all night” by Kiss (Rock)

Score: 2 “No, you should because it was dirty.”

Score: 1 “Bad. :-)?”

Score: 2 “No, you shouldn’t because it has people headache. ”

Score: 0  “No, you shouldn’t because it was duty.”  Duty??  “dirty!”

Score: 1 “No, you shouldn’t because they are ugly.”

 Funniest paper I read in class (It’s so good I have to share it)

Student wrote: “Yes you should because I want a Rock!!”

 

 

“Lose Yourself” by Eminen (Rap)

Score: 5 “No you shouldn’t because I don’t understand what he said. However,  if you can understand this rap, I think you should.”

Score 9: “Yes, you should because It’s Rap is soft and Wild.”

Score 6: “No you shouldn’t because the man know handsome himself.”

Score 10: “Yes, you should because main Charatcher is handsome.”

Score 5: “No , he shouldn’t because he can’t rap.” <— Don’t say that to Eminem fan girls!

 

 

“Valio la Pena” by Marc Anthony (Latin)

Score: 2 “No, you shouldn’t because the melody is messy.”

Score: 4 “No, you shouldn’t because very cheese style.” 

 

Sandstorm by Darude (Trance)

Score: 4 “No, you shouldn’t because it is messy.”

 

Dreamgirl by Shinee (Kpop)

Score: 100,000   Yes, you should because it is very fantastic”

Score: 0 “Yes, you should because it is very very good good and great handsome”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because it is my country’s music.”

 

“Walkin'”by Miles Davis (Jazz)

Score: 1 “Yes, you should because it’s noisy song. It’s Arabia”

Score: 2 “No, you shouldn’t because it was dirty.”

 

“Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood (Country)

“Score: 10  “Yes you should because Lady is sexy.”

Score 100,000 “Yes you should it is so very so sexy.”

Score: 8  “Yes you should because it is fowerpull”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because good filling”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because she is pretty.”

Score 6: “Yes, you should because it is violent.”

Score: 8 “Yes, you shouldn’t because I fell soul.”

 

“Bubble Pop” by Hyuna (Kpop)

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because she is sexy.”

“Call me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson (Pop)

Score: 100,000   Yes, you should because the boy is very handsome.”

Score: 10  “Yes, you should because it is perefect body and voice.”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because it sounds very handsome”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because the music video has chocolate stomach muscle.”

Score:  10 “Yes, you should because he is handsam”

Score 100 “Yes, you should because his body is very good.” <— all the girls were SCREAMING when they saw this. 

One Love by Bob Marley (Reggae)

Score: 0 “No, it makes you born.”

Score: 3 “No you should beacause no highright”

Score: 10 “Yes you should Loli dieski”

Score 8: “Yes, you should because it fee like soft chocolet”

Score 4: “No you shouldn’t because it’s like butter.”  <— Paula Dean would like it !!

Butterception

Groaning the Blues by Eric Clapton

Score: 0   “NO,  NO!!! You shouldn’t because it is too bad to hear.”

Score: 0 “No you shouldn’t because it is butter.” <—- More Paula Dean Love! Check out this link (I think this is HILARIOUS)

Score 3: “No, you shouldn’t because it makes you uncomfortable.”

Score: 5 “No, you shouldn’t because the singer sings look hard.”

Score: 10 “Yes, you shouldn’t becauseo I lik Erek Clepton.” <— You and my Dad need to be BFFS

 

Lights and Sounds by Yellowcard (Alternative) <— one of my favorite songs

Score: 7 “Yes, You should because the vocal’s voice is nice”

Score: 9 “Yes, you should because it is handsome.”

Score: 5 “Yes, you should because Fungky”

Score: 9 “Yes, My lord.”

Score: 7 “Yes you should because it is make my heart beat.”

Score 10: “Yes, you should because it is violent.”

 

You will notice a HUGE trend in students writing that you should listen to a song based on the singer’s appearance. Koreans are really image conscious, and since many students couldn’t understand most of the lyrics, they  wrote their opinion about the people in  music videos.

I suppose if I wanted the students to focus purely on the music itself I could have played the song without showing the video.

BUT, I feel that it was WAY more entertaining watching their reactions to the videos. Crazy kids :)

** Note: A couple students wrote multiple funny things on their paper, others just wrote one funny thing. I divided the responses by songs, not by the students.”

Highlights from Student’s Essays AKA I think my kids are hilarious

I had to read  almost 40 students’ essays for a writing competition. The highlight of what I read (a combination of really funny and great words of advice):

about Baseball:

“My favorite sport is baseball. Because I always watch it with a cliffhanger.”

“Young Gyu is faster than other members and Sun bin is cute in KIA, but my favorite member is Na Ji Won. He is fat and looks like a pig. so he is called “Doe Ji Wan” . It means “Pig” but he is cute and a good home-Run guy.”

“I watch baseball game every day. Do not forget.”

about Badminton:

“Hold the locket down and then when the ball come to you, hit that ball.”

“Second, it is effecting to lose your weight. Many people always think about their weight. It’s their problem. If you will join the badminton you will solve it easily. For example, I will tell you my friend Ji Hee’s story. She was a little fat when she was young, so always played badminton with her mother .Today she lost her weight. Also she got healthy body too.”

“Finally, doing badminton will help you and your friend’s relationship. You can feel friendship with your partner. This game is important to rely your partner. Therefore, when you fight with your best friend, win it together, badminton will help you.”

About Swimming: “I think learning swimming is terrifying at first because I felt some nameless fear when I gold my breath in the water… However I like swimming I feel smooth and fresh when I’m in the water.”

About Basketball: “Game is so hard, but that is opportunity to remove your fat…. I feeled I am destiny in basketball. So I started basketball at 15 years old and known as “Got of Basketball”  or Michael Jin.”

About Different Books:

“I feel very exciting after reading the book. I want to magic power. Finally thank you for reading here.”

“The book is called “The Prejudice and Arrogance” <—- instead of  “Pride and Prejudice.” 

“When he was the same age as me, he poured paints into the river with eyes full of curiosity.”

About Twilight: “And I want to write my love story like this book.”

 

airplane gif

I regret nothing

Lately I’ve been thinking about the the fact that I have almost lived in Korea a year.

That’s so crazy to me because it seems like it was a month ago I hopped on a plane and jetted off to this country that I had never before set foot in, nor spoke a word of the language.

I flew to Korea exactly like this. No lie.

I’ve also been thinking about all the things I have seen and experienced in the past year, and thought about what some of my other friends have been doing (or not doing) in the same span of time.

I am happy that I have an independent and adventurous spirit and that I am willing to do whatever it takes to pursue my dreams, instead of feeling I am living a life full of regrets.

I hope I will always maintain this sense of wanderlust and the desire to do daring, unconventional things.

fast-talking-hank-o

Storyaday2013: Same, Same

When I am in my Korean class and my Korean teacher is talking super fast :

I’m like:

Then:

My students feel the same when when I speak English to them.

I feel the EXACT same as them.

So I ask my teacher in Korean: Slow down.

But she thinks I am asking something related to the lesson and keeps talking super fast :

So I’m like: