Friday, September 28, 2012

A Day In The Life...

I woke up two hours earlier than usual so I could finish two separate lesson plans that will be due today. One was a bit of a surprise. I was only given one day to write it all out. The other is one I forgot about (but shouldn't have), and consequently ended up doing at the last minute. Still, everything (for the most part) is finished. It's just a matter of formatting for the first, most important lesson plan, which will be used for TaLK Day.

Why didn't I work on this important work yesterday? Well, I tried. Sort of. The teachers that I hold "secret" dinners and outings with sprung a secret dinner last night. It was the first one in several months, and despite any negative or uncomfortable feelings I develop during our gatherings, I look forward to these dinners. For me, they are like once-in-a-lifetime encounters. Uncomfortable feelings would include not understanding most of the conversation because it is all in Korean. I overlook these things for the sake of culture, and a chance to maintain friendships I'm sure I won't regret having later. ...We stayed out for a few hours (dinner, game station .. you know, batting cage, whack-a-mole, etc...then a bar where we played darts). I must say that it was my first time trying a (virgin) pina colada, and it tasted so much better than the pina colada-flavored juice I'd accidentally mistaken for pineapple juice and bought earlier in the week. But I digress.

I walked home, turned on my computer, and (first mistake) lay on the bed. Even though you should never sit somewhere super comfortable when getting ready to do important work (if you're already drowsy), I think sitting anywhere else wouldn't have made a difference. Sure enough, I found myself dozing after typing every few sentences. It wasn't even midnight, but I decided to sleep and wake up early. So catches us up to today's story!

I left the house feeling pretty ready for the day. Today, though a busy day for sure, is the last day of the week, and the beginning of a 5-day weekend. Chuseok (kind of like a Korean Thanksgiving) is this weekend, and there's a national holiday on Wednesday, so nearly every school will have a 5-day weekend.

I walked to the convenience store to recharge my bus pass. It takes a minute at most. Afterwards, I continue down the street, and this man (who must work at the Wedding Hall he's always standing in front of) appears suddenly and greets me. I've tried avoiding talking to him, or walking by the wedding hall in general, but it's really difficult. This road is the road I have to take... and besides, I hadn't seen him in several weeks. He stops me and asks me my name (since, by now, he's greeted me at least twice before). I ask him his name (I hope I can remember... but I hope more that he's not dangerous) in return. He tries saying something, else, but I don't really understand if it's Korean or English. I tell him, "Have a good day," and walk away.

Then, I continue to the bus stop, where a halmoni (a grandma-aged lady) handed me two mints after standing with me for a few minutes. I'd done a good job of not noticing if she was staring at me (I've been practicing this, because honestly, I tend to notice everything, and it'll be good for my health if I learn to ignore a few things).  I was just minding my own business, drinking choco milk, so I was genuinely surprised when she got up from the seat and walked over to me.  She didn't say anything, just smiled and handed them to me.I gratefully took the mints. I thanked her politely in Korean. I was feeling all happy when a strange thought entered my mind, like the bad angel on your shoulder, whispering in your ear. Maybe she's thinking this girl'll have bad breath after eating and drinking all that she's going to have bad breath. I'll save her from such a fate! Why'd I think such a crazy thought? Ha, because Koreans have a lovely habit of brushing (sometimes communally) after most (if not all) meals. All the teachers and students head to the bathrooms with their brushes and paste after lunch each day. It'd been twenty minutes since I brushed my teeth, and already I was sipping on chocolate milk. Guilty self-conscience.

I get to school and all the kids and teachers are wearing hanboks. Oh yes, I remember. There was a message about this to all the teachers yesterday. I'm not sure why, exactly, they're wearing them today. Maybe because of Chuseok coming. When I sat down at my desk, I heard a student whisper something to another 1st grader. "Shannon.... hanbok...." was all I heard. .... Ah, yes, child. You've realized that I'm not wearing one? Well, I don't have one. Don't make me feel bad. Get back to your work.

Today was the first time I saw the first graders take a test. They separated their desks and up walls so neither they nor their neighbors could cheat. Still, I saw kids attempting it from time to time. The test looked hard. I saw a lot of kids staring at their papers. I wonder what it was about.

Now, lunch is in 20 minutes, and the kids are listening to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" on repeat. They have to learn this song for some performance (did I already mention?) later on next month. It's so cute hearing them say, "Hush my dah-ling, don' feah my dah-ling, the lion sleeps tonight!"  They're learning well.

'Til next time,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Surprise, Surprise

This morning, I walked up to the school and saw some of the kids dressed in highlighter-yellow jackets. There was a huge, 2-story firetruck behind them. I stopped and stared. A fire safety demonstration?  Why were these kids so lucky as to get to go into the truck, climb up to a top balcony, and rope down the side, landing on thick safety mats?  All I remember from my childhood fire safety demos is visiting the station and watching the guys drive the truck around, stop somewhere far away, and spray high-pressured water in the field nearby. "You can try it," my mentor teacher told me.  I politely declined. Don't ask me why. I don't know if I'm really not interested, or if I'm just upset and the unfairness. Either way, the truck's gone by now. When the 1st graders came back to the classroom, one of them acted out what happened inside the truck. Something about it being really dark inside, and looking around, and finding a direction to walk in. At this point of the charades story, he was dogpiled by two other classmates, and I couldn't hear the rest of it.

Work at school's getting a little bit trickier... for reasons I didn't expect.

Last Thursday was Sports Day at school. I found out late, that I'd be participating in it. I'd be running in a relay race. Oh, really? When? Well, I got most of my information from other students. I'd be partnered with 6th grader?  Ok.... So, in the end, I participated in this race, though I didn't really understand how the race was orchestrated. I didn't understand who won or lost, just took the baton and ran when it was my turn. Don't get me wrong, it was really fun. I'm glad I got to participate. I even got some compliments from some 6th graders after the race. Still, I'd have liked to known what was going on so I could enjoy the race better. I'd tried so many times to get info from the others, but no luck. Let's just mark this down as another one of those "don't ask questions, just do it" moments.

And yet again, I am discovering that the students have to learn and perform English pop songs for some sort of special day in the near future. My mentor teacher told me a bit about it. A few bits of important information here and there. "Actually, you have to do this, but I will help you."  ... I was asked to come up with a list of pop songs for grades 1-2 and 3-6 to learn. Songs with dances were best. I had a day and night to pick the songs, so the next day I came to school with a decent list of songs. Turns out none of them were good. Well, honestly, I thought SOME  of them were good. Not "too fast," or "complicated," like she said they were. She ended up picking a song she knew. The kids don't like it, but I think they won't have a problem learning it. This story is still ongoing. Today, I picked "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" for the 1-2 graders. She OK'd the choice, but I'll have to come up with a dance for it. Well...I hope I can come up with something good, and worthy.

Oh, and so I think all of my classes, from now until the performance day, will be used to practice the song and dance routines. Does that mean I have to make a lesson plan for October...?  I'm looking forward to this upcoming Chuseok holiday. Hopefully it will give me some time to think.

One final thing to mention. The evening of Sports Day, I said my goodbyes to the teachers and got ready to head the bus stop. My mentor teacher stopped me and told me I had to stay. She and the other teachers would first have a meeting, and then we'd all go have dinner together. Ok, I thought. I went to the gym-a-torium to play on the piano while they had their meeting. After awhile, I saw my mentor teacher walking out of the other building, heading to her car. Oh, I thought, maybe she's pulling her car around. I'd better get going. In the time it took me to walk down the stairs into the courtyard, she had driven away towards the restaurant with some other teachers. I called her phone. "Oh! Shannon, what happened to you?"  "I'm here at the school. Did you forget about me?"

Before making this phone call, the kindergarten teacher spotted me and told me to wait for her. She'd drive me to the restaurant. I relayed this info to my mentor teacher, and headed to the restaurant with the kindy teachers instead. After dinner, all the teachers were gathered out front (like usual), laughing and chatting and discussing what they'd do after dinner. My mentor teacher was one of the few who didn't drink during dinner, yet she somehow disappeared. I thought she'd walked off with the first group of teachers who were heading to the noraebang, so I headed over with the second group. When I arrived and saw she wasn't there, I realized she'd forgotten me again. The next day at school, she asked me how I'd gotten home. I told her the other teachers had kindly helped me get a taxi. She explained something about being tired and going to pick up her husband before heading home. End of conversation, literally. No apology. Well, I'm not sure how to take that.....

It's lunch time so I have to stop writing. TTYL

'Til next time,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hiking (in detail)

So, the hiking trip took all day. It was about 4 hours up and 3.5 hours down. Here are some of the things I saw along the way:

A huge temple near the beginning of the trail.
Nuns sitting on boulders in the stream and reading a bible near the waterfall.
Chipmunks (I mentioned this already)
Lots of different kinds of trees.
People of all different ages climbing up and down. I told one girl "Fighting!" as she pulled herself up a particularly difficult part of the trail. She really appreciated it. She was probably regretting coming up there.

Actually, the people I talked to on the mountain were really nice and friendly people. Many of them were encouraging, or just simply polite in passing. Some said, "Fighting!" while others nodded a greeting as they passed by. A few tried to chat in English or Korean. The hiking people are really kind.

My group descended down a different path from the path of ascent. The second path was full of stairs. No matter how hard I thought my journey up was, I really felt bad for anyone who chose the path of stairs. The steps were all different sizes and depths. Some stairs were man-made, while others were carved into the mountain.

As I walked, I was mesmerized by all the scenery. At some point, I thought, "Oh, what if I want to write about this in a book someday? I'd better catalogue it well in my mind."  So, I started talking aloud (I was walking alone at this point of the journey), describing what I was seeing. I really didn't have time to sit and stare at everything like I wanted, but if it was along the way, I made a note about it.

I'm not sure how some of the children had the energy to go up and down the mountain. I know for sure that they are capable of having more energy than an adult; still, kids can get tired from strenuous exercise. I admire those that I saw along the way.

Now, I can fully understand why someone would meditate deep in the mountains, or why someone would stand in the cold stream water (or even under the waterfall) after training. They mountains sure provide the right training ground. The right atmosphere.

I've heard that many old people in Korea like to take makkoli (rice wine) up the mountain with them and drink it (among other things) once they reach the top. Perhaps there's nothing quite like getting drunk at the top of a mountain. I was just happy to have my gatorade bottle in my bag.

'Til next time,

Hiking Chiaksan

Chiaksan is located in Wonju, Gangwon-do, South Korea. Last Saturday I went hiking up this mountain with a group of friends. It was both a wonderful and difficult experience.

There is way to much to talk about regarding this trip, so I'll start with the briefest summary I can come up with that will still give you a decent sense of the trip.

We all headed out of Jecheon on a 9:45 bus to Wonju. An hour or so later, we did a quick bathroom break before heading for the long line of taxis outside the bus terminal. The taxis dropped us off in front of Wonju (train) station, and from there we caught the city bus to the national park. It was the last stop, and we got quite a few stares from all the other bus passengers. What were all these foreigners doing on this bus? So many, taking up all the seats so that not even the old ladies could sit down. The teen girls kept looking in our direction after every stop, hoping some or all of us would get off so they could take a seat. We rode the bus all the way to the last stop, the mountain entrance. After a few last minute preparations, we all headed into the park and onto the trail. I was a bit excited but also nervous. I'd never hiked the way I was about to on that day: from top to bottom, nonstop (minus the necessary resting breaks). The others were showing various emotions from blatant excitement to hesitation.

In short, the place was beautiful. This mountain had a nice system of streams cascading here and there along the journey. There were mini waterfalls everywhere. Vines (for Tarzan-swinging), boulders covered in soft, cushiony lichen, toadstools, the occasional bird-call, and tons of chipmunks! (Honestly, I hardly see wildlife here in Korea, but that mountain seemed to have all the chipmunks in the country).

Chiaksan is a tough mountain to climb. Even the easier trails are incredibly steep. When the real climbing started, I found myself moving from the center of the group to the very end. Even though I was one of three who were the last to reach the summit, I was still the last to take the last few steps to the very top. Honestly, I could already see over all the other mountains from my spot below the last outcropping of boulders that made the crest of the mountain. I was so tired, couldn't believe how many stairs I'd climbed, how many stops I'd made, how well my heart and lungs were doing considering my screaming muscles. I knew I'd be in pain the next day but was the trip worth it?

Yeah, it was. It had been worth it to see all the beauty of the mountain. Honestly, it felt like being in a fantasy novel or movie. The best parts of the trip were simply seeing everything. The landscape of every elevation had its own importance. The hardest part of the trip was having to walk around to see it all (haha). Honestly, if I hadn't been there to hike up and down, I would've hiked sideways and had a better time of it.  Actually, knowing me, I would've been stuck in one spot, exploring a stream and petting moss. I did share some of my trail candy bars with the chipmunks when I reached the top.

It was cold at the top. Misty and foggy so that only certain directions could be seen. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of Wonju city shining in the distance, glowing from the light of the sun. Now that I think of it, we were probably standing in a cloud. There were plenty of other hikers coming and going at all points of the journey, but many were at the top, taking pictures near plaques and stone mounds (that were built by someone who'd had a vision... or something... I didn't read the plaque. Sorry....).

Before the real hike began, our group agreed that everyone would go at their own pace. Still, there was an agreement to all wait at the top until everyone had arrived. There were people in my group who were experienced hikers, racing ahead and never tiring. By the time I reached the top with the two other "stragglers" they were cold from the wind and itching to start the descent. I didn't blame them, but I wished I was able to keep up with them.

I should mention the multitude of "old" people who were hiking up and down that mountain. They were dressed for the part (Koreans seem to get dressing right. They always look the part, as if auditioning for a movie), and some had backpacks while others carried nothing but hiking sticks. They all carried on at a constant, brisk pace that I both admired and despised. How in the world are they able to move like that?! When you look at them, they look like they're just taking a walk. There's no stress in their eyes from the hike, just a sense of, "Well. now it's time to go up," and, "Well, now it's time to go down."  Some people brought their young children with them. Young children were strapped to backs where they could look around or just sleep for the entire hike.

The descent was better, but by the last couple of miles, my leg muscles were spazzing a lot and my feet were becoming quite sensitive to the rocky ground. The way down was just as beautiful as the way up, and the climbing was altogether different. I used my arms a lot, climbing over tree roots and between split rocks, jumping from muddy step to step, and scaling down difficult spots with the help of metal stair railing.  In the last stretch of the trail that led to the end of the park, my friend and I decided to speed-walk to the end. She said walking fast seemed to make the pain go away. She was hurting so much that she was starting not to feel anything. I laughed at this, assessing my own pain. I was torn between wanting to finish quickly and slow down to a more comfortable pace. We all eventually reached the end and people decided on how they'd finish the rest of the day. Those who'd finished early had eaten at the restaurant outside the park. Of those who'd finished last, some decided to stay and eat, while others wanted to head to the bus that would take us to the train station. I decided to take the train right away, resolving that if I just got home, I could make my own food and relax immediately.

We left the park on the next bus, scrambled off when our stop arrived, and sprinted down the street to the train station entrance. We realized we had 5 minutes to buy a ticket and make it to the platform before the next train came. Despite our various degrees of pain and fatigue from the hiking trip, we all ran, paid, and climbed the two sets of stairs that separated the waiting hall from the train platform. As we climbed down the second set of stairs, the train pulled up. We all laughed at the craziness of the situation, but ultimately glad to have made it on time. We got on the train and headed home.

I'll write a little more about the sights next time.

'Til next time,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kimbap Lady

There is a bus stop that I always run to if I know I will not make it to the first stop. At this bus stop, on the other side of the 5 foot-wide sidewalk, is a kimbap restaurant. Well, they sell other things, too, but the sign says kimbap. In this shop is the lady I will refer to as the Kimbap lady. She works there with (I assume) her mother, or mother-in-law.

If  I come to this bus stop, she always runs out and greets me. Lately, she's started saying hi in English and waving her hand slightly. I still continue to bow and say annyeong haseyo, but I don't know if this is rude now that she's greeting me in English (the rest of the conversation is always in Korean). Maybe she's just trying to reciprocate since I'm making an effort to greet and talk to her in Korean. I'm sure if she knew more English, she'd use it.

This morning was one of those days I knew I might be late for the bus if I went to the usual stop. When I crossed the street, she was outside sweeping the front of the shop. I could see she'd already seen me and was prepared to wave (she always is), but there was a young (but tall) middle schooler walking between me and her, in my direction. I didn't want to create one of those awkward scenes where you wave to someone in the distance, and the person closest to you thinks you're waving at them instead... so I kept my head down until he passed.

She always speaks really fast to me, but doesn't mind repeating stuff. Unfortunately, I still can't understand most of her questions whether she repeats them or not. She seems to be asking me really simple things, but I just don't know those words yet (or can't pick them up in her sentences). Still, I think she asks me the same things every day, hoping that I'll give her a better answer soon.

Today, she walked over to a grandma ... halmeoni ...who was coming down the sidewalk with a few bandaged fingers. They started chatting about stuff, and I just watched the road for my bus. Soon, it looked like the grandma was going to continue on her way. They came towards me, but then  (I don't know who started the conversation) they started talking about me. I heard the word "yeoja" (girl/woman), and then Kimbap lady started gesturing to me and talking about where I worked. The grandma would nod like, wow. really? is that so! hmm. Then she started trying to confirm what was being said by turning to me and asking.  "Ah, so you work at so-n-so school as an English teacher?" she said in Korean.  I nodded yes. This 3 way conversation went on for a few more sentences, and then the order switched a bit. The grandma started having questions of her own to ask me. She'd turn to me and ask me some things, and I couldn't quite understand her sentences. That was ok though, because Kimbap lady had my back. She'd started sweeping again, somewhere far off, but her ears were good. She could hear the grandma's questions, and she'd shout the answers from the other side of the shop front.  This continued for a few sentences. I'd stopped trying to answer. I had a spokesperson anyway. Finally, kimbap lady said some things like, "...doesn't know. doesn't know."  I assume she was telling grandma that she hadn't gotten that answer from me yet.

Well, the grandma was satisfied, and she continued on her way, wishing me a good day and whatnot. I said kamsahabnida (thank you), and she said something and laughed, repeating kamsahabnida in a question.  So, now I think I misheard the last things she said and answered incorrectly. It was alright now. She kept walking, I turned back to the road, looking for my bus. There it was, at the light. When it pulled up to the stop, I turned around and saw the two of them standing in the shop entry way chatting about other things. I said goodbye to kimbap lady and she said "Go well!" in Korean.  I jumped on the bus and headed to school.

'Til next time

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Studying and Korean Ceremony

Here's what happened last night.

After much highly-unnecessary internal conflict, I decided to pay my phone friend a visit.

---Oh, crap. I just found out I have to be the TaLK Day teacher. I'll write about it later. ---

Back to the story. I went to the phone shop with a list of all the Korean lessons I had learned in TTMIK's level two. I was ready to move on to level three, but wanted some sort of test from a Korean friend. I figured this would be the best way to get a quick review and test at the same time. When I walked in, there was a new person working with the usual group of guys. A female. At first I thought she was just one of their friends visiting the shop, but she bowed to me when I came in. My phone friend (one of the guys working at the shop) finished helping a customer and then came to sit with me at the table. I handed him the list and he immediately began quizzing me. At first I was really nervous. I have more practice reading and writing than speaking, and when I speak I tend to think slowly or forget whole phrases (thinking I don't know them when actually, I do). However, the way he asked questions was really helpful, and I was able to answer calmly. I think it helps that he had patience.

Soon another customer came in and the other brothers (he calls them his brothers, whether related or not. In Korea, it'd be natural to call them his brothers, or "hyeong") had disappeared. Only the lady was there, and he called her over and told her to introduce herself and speak to me in Korean. More tests, haha. It started off awkwardly because she wasn't sure what to say to me beyond "Hi, what's your name," etc. Still, after a few minutes we began coming up with things to say to each other, and that's when I found out she was a new worker at the store.

That night, I learned a lot more Korean, too. Nothing I can remember off the top of my head right now, but through the course of chatting with each other in Korean and English (both broken at times), we started talking about all kinds of things. One of her friends came to the shop for a short while and we started talking about IU (a Korean singer),  and what to call the boss and subordinates at work. Things like that. After awhile, the phone shop boss came in we started talking about him (among other things). It was really funny because my phone friend and the boss just watched us talking and switching between Korean and English (in between sentences). Neither of us knew enough Korean or English to stick to one language, so I tried asking questions in English, and she'd reply in Korean. Of course, we often mixed our sentences with words from both languages. They thought it was funny and laughed at us a lot. It was all good fun. Finally, the boss came over and joined the conversation. I showed him what I was studying. I had written the lesson topics in Korean and English, so I think he started studying them rather than just reading the list.

Then, he was asking me if I could teach him English. A deal was made. I'd come to the shop and review/learn Korean, and he would learn English. We'd be sharing/exchanging information and learning from each other. Well, I agreed. I've never taught an adult before (er, someone so much older than me), but thanks to my current job, I know what it's like to teach someone who knows very few words in the target language to begin with. My first graders were the "guinea pigs," the first big test for me. ..And I have to teach so many of them, so at this point nothing should be a big shock. :)  Now, I just need to remember to show up. It'll be a week before we start, and for me it's the equivalent of the first day of school. Remember to go to the right class. Remember to show up on time. Things like that. Actually, I'm really excited. I didn't expect to make so many new friends at a place I've visited so often. Rather, I didn't expect my relationship with the others to become more than just "Hi." and "Bye." conversations. I'm really glad.

After our little study party, we went to a traditional Korean ceremony.

At some point the bilingual conversation had died down, and the boss and my friend were talking to each other in Korean. I didn't know what they were saying, but sometimes I don't listen anyway. I'm still at the point where I have to force my ears to listen to Korean speech and prepare my brain to pick up any known words. So, I was sitting there not listening when the boss turned to me and said something in Korean. I tried to recall what he'd just said, but all I had picked up was 같이. Together.  "같이?" I asked him, for clarification? What was happening "together"?  Then my phone friend explained. One of their other "brothers" was having a ceremony that night. He was opening a new shop, and there was a traditional ceremony (my phone friend called it a superstition) involving a pig's head, money, and bowing, and food offerings. Did I want to go with them to see it?  Honestly, it was a rare opportunity. I'd probably never get to come across it on my own. I let them know I'd only seen it once in a KDrama, and I can't even remember which drama that was. I asked them if it was ok for me to go. They said yes. The closed the shop for the night and we all headed out.

The location was a 15 minute drive out of the city. It was dark outside so I couldn't see much besides shadows of trees and the lights of other cars driving by. It reminded me of driving around the Texas countryside, or North Carolina. We pulled up to to the venue where people were eating and laughing together. The host waved us in as we parked. After a lot of greetings, we walked over to the building's porch . There it was. A pig's head. Money had been stuffed into its ears, and money envelopes were packed between the pig's lips, as if the pig was eating the envelopes. Sorry, I didn't take a picture, but I'll look for one and post it here. Surrounding the pigs head was a watermelon and an Asian pear, their ends sliced off so that the fruits' insides could be seen. There were also many cups sitting on the front end of the table. The boss did the ceremony and the rest of us watched. He received a cup of 막걸리 (rice wine) from the host, which he knelt down with. He circled the cup in the air between himself and the pig's head before putting it on the table (I didn't see if he drank from it).  Then he stood up and knelt back down several times (three times, I think), bowing at each interval. He also put a money envelope into the pig's mouth.  That was pretty much the entire ceremony. Afterwards, we walked over to the food tables for a nice warm meal.

I should mention that it was super cold outside. Once the sun went down, the cool breeze stayed behind and chilled everything. There was moisture in the air that left a thin layer of water over everything outside. Luckily, we had a nice stew to eat (honestly, it tasted kind of like something my mom would make), with rice, samgyeopsal, and many side dishes. There was celebratory dduk as well. I figured out that dduk shows up at almost every ceremony. The last time I saw it, a teacher's newborn baby had just reached 100 days  of life. They celebrate that here in Korea. She gave all the other teachers dduk as a celebratory gift.

After eating and chatting, and playing with these cute puppies that lived on the lot, we all got into the cars and headed back home.

'Til next time

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Morning Rush

I got up at the usual time this morning. Did the usual things, but still found myself rushing out the door at the last minute. I figured I wouldn't make it in time to my usual bus stop, so I quickly head for the next stop to meet the bus. I reached the main street and could see the bus waiting at the light at the distance. I had one light's-worth of time to cross the street before the bus drove up to the stop. Some middle school boys were casually walking down the sidewalk on the other side. Finally crossed the street and started running to the stop. When I looked back at the boys, one of them was on the ground, clutching his stomach and rolling around. It looked serious, but I couldn't really stop, so I quickly gave him a concerned look before continuing on. Besides, there was an adult a short distance away looking at the commotion. Then one of the boys said, "Hi." I slowed down a bit, waved to him and said, "Hi," back. I The kid on the ground looked around at me and said in English, "Oh, I'm so sick!" I wasn't sure just how much pain he was in. One of the other guys was trying to make him stand up. It looked like he was exaggerating a little bit. I managed an, "Oh no!" and continued running past. They probably thought it was strange, but I couldn't miss the bus. No sooner did I reach the stop that the bus pulled up. I got on and waved to the boys as the bus pulled away. I really just want to laugh at what happened, but I do hope that boy will be ok. 'Til next time, -Shirby