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!

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.”

Day 76: I like you

Last week I read a Cracked.com article discussing the 5 major Virtues of Mr. Fred Rogers (from Mr. Roger’s neighborhood).

I can’t tell you how many hours I spent watching that show when I was younger. Actually, I’m not gonna lie,  reading the article and watching the video clips made me tear up. Mr. Rogers definitely made a huge impact on me, even though the effect of his show is very subconscious.

In his award acceptance speeches Mr. Rogers asked people to take 10 seconds and think about the people who have helped them become the person they are today. Although many people have crossed my mind, too many to name, some of the first people I thought about are the people I have met in South Korea.

Moving to a new country was TERRIFYING. I spent the whole 13+ hour flight to Korea sick to my stomach, feeling like I had made a horrible life mistake. But once I got here, I calmed down and realized that Korea is really awesome. I love my new life here.

A large part of that has to do with the people I have met, both other foreigners and Koreans. Most of the other foreigners I have met here are not only super friendly, but also, like me, they  are willing to go off on random adventures at any place and at any time.  I also love how most of the people here have such a positive outlook on life! It’s hard for me to talk to people/ be friends with people who  are constantly serious and/or negative because they suck the joy & fun out of everything.

My favorite types of people are the ones who are ready to laugh at anything (even about crummy situations) and I feel that this describes many the foreigners friends I have made here.

Living in Korea I interact with Koreans all day. I have to say that as a whole my experiences with the Korean people has been extremely positive. I find that most Koreans are very kind and friendly, ranging from the students who yell “Teacher, I love you” down the hallway at me (those crazy middle school kids!!), to  the Korean friends I have made, and to the random strangers on the street.

Case in point: Last week it was drizzling and I didn’t have an umbrella. I decided to just tough it out in the rain during my 5 minute walk home from the bus stop to my apartment. As I was waiting on the sidewalk for the light to change so I could cross a busy street, a random Korean woman walked up to me and held her umbrella over my head.

I insisted in Korean I was okay, but she insisted emphatically that I stay under her umbrella. We talked for a few minutes (with my broken Korean) and then we crossed the road together before going our separate directions.

Since Korea is not as ethnically diverse as the US and other countries, non-Koreans really stand out. I feel that many Koreans will go out of their way to try to talk to foreigners and to show kindness that I have not often experienced in America. Of course, there are some things that Koreans do that I find rude (like shoving you in a crowd and not apologizing @__@; coughing/sneezing with their mouth open, etc.) but in general, I find Koreans very helpful and nice.

All in all, I feel really lucky to have met so many awesome students, teachers, friends, and strangers, who  really go above and beyond to try to help me and show kindness to me just because they can, not because they are obligated to.

For them and for all the other people  out there who have offered a friendly smile to me I say “Thank you. I like you. I appreciate you. You make me happy when skies are gray.**”

 

*Nod to the rainy weather that night.

Graduation: the other side of the looking glass. (Storyaday: Day 38)

Today was the first time that I have been on the other side of the looking glass when it comes to graduation. This is the first time I have attended a graduation ceremony as a teacher.

I have to say I am surprised by how much I will miss some of my middle school students. I only was their teacher for about 5 months (having come into school in the second semester), but I was able to develop a really great connection with some of my students.  Even the kids who I didn’t get to talk to as much, I wish I had a chance to get to know them better.

Overall, after my first semester teaching English I have had a really positive experience. My students were a lot of fun (for the most part) and I hope I will stay in touch with the ones who have meant a lot to me.

I am curious where my students end up and how their English will improve over the years.

I didn’t get a chance to take photos with everyone I wanted to, but here are some photos of me and my students:

 

Hee Jin & Yeji

Oo Jin & Do Geun

As a rule, Korean boys don't like to smile in their photos. He looks so unhappy!

Thinking about this makes me really appreciative of all my former teachers who have impacted my life for the better. Every teacher has left some kind of mark on my life and I am grateful to those who made class interesting and fun.

One of the classes that has had the longest impact on me has been #ds106. Even now, years later, I am still thinking about #ds106 and how I should be creating art and other materials for it.

I might not have as much time as I would like to devote to it, but I still want to be a part of it whenever I can. #ds1064lyfe.

 

 

Why I like being a middle school teacher (Storyaday: Day 15)

I could spend a lot of time writing all the reasons why I like being a middle school teacher in Korea.

But to keep my fingers from crying out in protest, I will highlight the key reason why I like being a teacher here.

My students. My students are awesome! I have met a lot of really amazing kids the past 5 months I have been living in Korea.

I am always so impressed with the kids who speak English really well and also the kids who make an effort to talk to me despite their low English speaking ability.

Since I teach a lot of students, it’s hard to get to know them all.

Also, since I am the foreign English teacher, it’s a little intimidating for most of students to talk to me because they feel like their English isn’t good enough. (This is crazy because Korean and English are radically different from each other; any English they can speak is inherently better than my Korean language skills!)

Anyways, it seems that just as some of my students started to warm up to me, the school year was ending and they getting ready to head off to High School.

Still, some of them seem to want to stay in contact with me, which I find really great. I am very curious what they will do with their lives and where they will end up in the future.

I hope to keep in contact with them and see how much their English improves over the years!

Side story: At my school there is a range of the Students’ English ability ranging from the very highly skilled students to those students who can barely read simple sentences or understand simple questions like “What did you do this weekend?”

Despite this, a few of the students with low English skills have managed to “befriend” me. This means they come by my classroom and say “Hi” even though they are unable  to have an extended conversation with me.

I think what has helped with this is that most of the students have discovered I am trying to learn Korean. When I try to speak some Korean to them (and they can hear my horrible American accent and also the fact I struggle to pronounce words/ read basic sentences) they start to feel more comfortable.

They probably think, “Wow, Korean is really hard for her, but she still is trying. I should try to speak English, even though I find it hard too.”

Despite  massive language barriers sometimes,  I find it possible to enjoy spending time with my students. I think it is cool that some of my students feel comfortable enough to reach out to me, even if they can’t always communicate everything they would wish to say.

I think the biggest part of learning a language is practice, practice, practice. It can be frustrating not being able to say what you want to say, or saying the right word or people not understanding you because of your accent. However, if you practice a lot,  everything becomes easier over time.

Here’s hoping my Korean improves dramatically by the time I am done living here! 😉

daily story journa;s

2012 recap & 2013 resolutions

2012 Recap:

Again, another busy year! I was working a really horrible retail job that made me hate my life. @__@

But then I quit the job and travelled in Europe for two months! I definitely hit my goal of trying to go to as many new countries/places this year as I could!

I met a lot of really cool people, saw amazing sights, and reconnected  with some of my favorite people.

The biggest life change for me was becoming an English teacher in South Korea. I had never been to Korea before, nor taught English before so it definitely turned my life upside down.

I have been living in Korea for 4 months now and  I  finally feel like my life is starting to settle down. I like going off and having adventures, but it’s nice to feel more comfortable with where I live and the job I am doing.

Last year for my 2011 recap and 2012 resolutions I said that I wanted to blog every week. That definitely did not happen! I think this is in large part due to the traveling I did this year and the fact that I fell behind on posting my #366 Creativity Journal Project.

I already mentioned this in a recent blog post, but  #366 Creativity Journal did not turn out exactly as I had planned.  I am no where close to being finished posting this project and certain events happening in my job the next few weeks will make it difficult to play catch up.

I am disappointed in myself for not trying harder this year to get my act together. But I will count this as a learning experience as I finish up #366creativityjournal and I move into my next yearlong project.

This brings me to my 2013 resolutions:  

1) Storyaday project: I decided that this year I want to hone my writing skills. I’ve decided to write a story (fictional AND/OR nonfictional) everyday for a year. Ideally I want to write both a fiction piece and non-fiction/autobiographical piece. To keep track of my progress I will be using these handy notebooks I found.

These are 100 days storybooks. In Korea one of the big moments of being in a relationship with someone is when you have been dating your partner for 100 days. I am not sure why; this will require further investigation. Regardless, this book one way you can keep track of your dating life, or really any life event that requires you to count specific days.

The reason why I like this kind of book is because  it will be easy to track  365 days worth of writing. If I were to use a blank notebook it would be easy to miss some days or to say, “I am too tired to write tonight, I will do it tomorrow.”

Sometimes I don’t want to sit down to write because I know when I do I will end up writing a lot and it will take FOREVER. But since each page doesn’t have that much space to write, it will be easier for me to keep myself motivated with this writing project on the the days I don’t feel like writing.

One of my biggest regrets when I was living in Australia in 2010 was I didn’t keep up with a journal as much as I would have liked. I was too busy living in the moment which was great at the time, but now there are some moments that I wish I had written down so that I would remember it better.  Pictures can help jog my memory, but it doesn’t always help with capturing emotions or the conversations I had with people.

 

2) Blog, Blog, Blog. I have a blog. I should use it. Otherwise this is just a waste of my money and superior writing skillz 😉

3) Koreausa Project. I have been terrible at posting photos. Megan Mc is getting swamped with work too. But it’s a great project and I would love to keep working on it.

4) Travel, Travel, Travel! Travel to as many countries and places as possible this year.

5) Learn more Korean. It’s so useful for everyday life and also to communicate with my students.