23 March 2007

Phenomenal Woman

by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

06 March 2007

Korea Week One Done!

I don't even know where to start... So ummm... Well I'll just try!

Thursday was a national holiday here. It is called March First day. They celebrate the March First Movement. " The March First Movement, or the Samil Movement, was one of the earliest displays of the Korean independence movements during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The name refers to an event that occurred on 1 March 1919, hence the movement's name (literally meaning "Three-One Movement" in Korean). It is also sometimes referred to as the Mansei Demonstrations. " Google it for more information! :) We had the day off of school and work. So we took the chance to go and explore. We traveled to the closest "large" city Cheonon. At the bus station a young boy came up to us and said "Hello!" We of course all giggled and started talking to him. He was headed to the museum we were heading to, so he followed along and we basically adopted him for the day. At first he was showing off all the time and getting a little obnoxious, but as he settled down we became quite fond of him. One of the guys with us, Oscar, speaks some Korean so the boy would talk to him a lot. Pretty soon Oscar was holding his things in his backpack and looking around to make sure we hadn't lost him. We called him his son and he kept clarifying that that was NOT the case. We had fun with him and were glad he adopted us.

Outside the museum they were having a ceremony to commemorate the holiday. It was beautiful! They read the proclamation of the protesting women from 1919 and let off balloons and waved Korean flags. I have a million pictures and they will be available to the waiting public soon. ;) There were kids everywhere so I was enjoying myself! I love these Asian babies... LOVE them!

Being inside the Japanese occupation museum was difficult to experience, but I am really glad we went. Many people spent our day off sleeping and here we were experiencing a real taste the Korean culture, something that defines much of who they are today. There was one point when it all became too much for some of us to handle. They had booths set up in the courtyard for people to "experience" being a Korean under Japanese oppression, wearing the hoods they had to wear, etc. At one point the little boy we "adopted" for the day put on shackles and started laughing hysterically... I wanted to cry. Many of the Koreans around me were laughing at seeing their friends in hoods, torture gear... I couldn't understand it and had to get out of there fast. I certainly have a lot to look forward to learning about these people I am falling in love with and completely baffled by.

One super exciting note: I saw a FAMOUS Korean movie star. People were screaming and chasing after him, snapping photos with their cell phones! I showed the video footage to my suitemates and it was our first bonding experience. They screamed along with the footage and could NOT believe that I had seen him "that" close. We call him my "good friend" now, whenever anyone famous comes up in conversation he is title "my good friend". The girls are so playful and SO bright. They are all crazy majors like biotechnology, architecture, with a few English, one early childhood education (she is precious! Looks just like a teacher should!) and they are great. I am living with ten Korean students and one lady from Singapore. Her name is Deon and is a veteran of the program. I love her! She takes good care of me. :)

Friday brought our matriculation ceremony for freshmen and new students. It was like the opening ceremonies to the Olympic games, complete with laser light show and celebrity shout outs via video. I ended up standing right next to my suitemate Jane during the ceremony, so she filled me in on what was happening. One of her fellow biotechnology majors was standing near us and thought it was "incredible" that I spoke English, so I started talking to him. He was giggling like a little kid and covering his face. I said his name to him and then said it was "cute" when he was embarrassed and looked away. The girls around him understood "cute" right away and teased him that I liked him. Once I corrected myself and explained "Oh no, no. Cute like a little kid. Like... funny/cute." They all lost it! They pointed at him and laughed. He laughed hysterically. It was a riot! I was like some sort of superstar because I had blue eyes and spoke English. (Not that any of you are surprised, I mean I AM very "good friends" with an unnamed Korean superstar!)

After the matriculation ceremony I ran into Jeff, an American from Missouri who had been on my flight from San Francisco. It was so weird to see him here in this random rural town. He is a "professor" here who is teaching English in the junior highs. He and two friends are living here for a year. I am not going to lie, the job sounds SWEET! He and others are already trying to talk me into staying after this semester... It is tempting, but I am certainly NOT making any decisions until I have eaten one month's worth of kimchi. :) If my stomach doesn't give up on me at that point I will consider it.

Okay so I have to run to class... My next email will fill you in on my weekend in Seoul and the process of falling desperately in love with ten Korean suitemates!

Love you all!
Thank you for your emails. I will try to figure out the picture situation after I do my laundry this afternoon.

:) Melissa