Posts Tagged ‘teaching English’

Happy Birthday, Blog!

April 4, 2011

Sunset on a Manitoba farm.

Well, it’s been one year since I started this blog. That’s right, April 4th, 2010 I made my first post right here, which I think 6 people viewed… over three days. Over the year I’ve managed to survive 17 countries or so, visiting around 60 cities and (trying) to learn Korean, Thai, Khmer, Polish and now… Russian. As a result of those travels, I’ve been fortunate to meet and talk with many people all over the world.

I’ve managed just over one post per week, or about 67 (including this one). Readership continues to grow at a breath-taking pace and is almost equal to global daily Google searches. If you like what you read, remember to share it with your friends and family (using the “Share” button below) or maybe even the people you don’t like, since there are probably more of them. You can even use this short email:

Heeeyyy dude! I remember us talking about teaching English abroad and found this website. This guy has taught English and travelled the world. Thought you might like it.

www.stevensirski.wordpress.com

See ya!
(YOUR NAME)

Don’t forget to personalize it with your name or else it’ll just look like spam.

Anyway, your favourite posts included Taipei? Fucking Eh!, the tale about my life on the farm in The Thanksgiving Day Chicken, and my Third Impressions of Poland. The Coffee and Coffee Shops in Asia post garnered quit a bit of attention from search engines, so too the second part of my report on Polish Vodka, and Winnipeg Music.

I appreciate you taking the time to read comment on The Thanksgiving Day Chicken, Winnipeg Music, and parts one and two of  Reminiscences of a Winnipeg Musician. My First Impressions of Poland, however, sparked many conversations while travelling through Poland. Thank you for the comments both online and in person.

Although I started the blog with the intention of making a documentary about my southeast Asian travels, I changed direction and focused more on writing, leaving the video and photos often unattended. All is not lost, however, as you can view a portion of my photos on Flickr and some videos on Vimeo. I’m slowly adding more.

There was a time I thought I could make a useful travel website, you know, somewhere you could look up what to do, what to see, etc., but there are other people who do it better than I ever could, among them Art of Backpacking, Road Junky, World Nomads and Frommer’s while the travel guides Lonely Planet (particularly the “shoestring budget” books) and Let’s Go remain your best offline sources. And if you need somewhere to stay, Hostel World is a good choice. As for airfare, I use tripadvisor.com and cheapoair.com. I don’t pretend to be a travel website, but I have travelled quite a bit.

In any event, my travels are (hopefully) far from over. There is still time for me to be of some service to you and your travel plans. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at stevensirski [at] gmail [dot] com, or you can look me up on Facebook, though I’m wary of adding people I don’t know. A good conversation is appropriate, but a night or two out drinking is a minimum before I can commit to a Facebook relationship.

Thanks for reading. I’ve enjoyed writing. 🙂

Steve

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Coffee and Milk Featured in Teach Away, Inc. Telegram

February 4, 2011
Students' Reaction Shot

My Grade 6 Advanced English class participating in the Coffee and Milk shoot.

I’m proud and honoured to report that Coffee and Milk has been featured in Teach Away, Inc.’s January 2011 telegram. Teach Away is the company that brought me over to teach English in Korea.

Find the article here.

View the short film here or pictures from the shoot on Flickr.

I also have other posts about the film here.

Coffee and Milk Korean Interview

November 29, 2010

Murat is interviewed at the first screening of Coffee and Milk

I’ve heard good things about the 12th Independent Film Festival MADE IN BUSAN this past weekend. Compliments on the shooting and editing.

Murat attended and was interviewed. It’s in Korean, so I can’t help you. I hope they’re saying good things. Due to exams, Seung Jae, the student lead, couldn’t attend the screening, and since I’m in Winnipeg, neither could I (though with the current amount of snowfall, maybe I should’ve gone??)

You can find the interview here.

And if you know Korean and want to help me out, I’d love to have a translation of the interview.

You read more about the movie here, or watch it here.

Coffee and Milk Screening in Korea

November 17, 2010
Second Shot of the Day

Seung Jae, Steventeacher, and Murat on set for the filming of Coffee and Milk.

Practically one year to the day since it was shot, my first international short film Coffee and Milk, about a teacher and a student who get into a fight over spilled milk and coffee, will be screened at the 12th Independent Film Festival MADE IN BUSAN!

For those of you who don’t know Korean, here’s the direct link:

http://www.ifmib.org/bbs/view.php?id=gong1&no=193&category=

From my meager knowledge of Korean, the info under that link gives the general information about the movie, which can also be found here, in English.

If you’re not in Korea, you can always watch the movie on my Vimeo page or check it out being featured on the Art of Backpacking website.

Korea: A Reminiscence

August 15, 2010

안녕하세요!

I’ve been back in Winnipeg for just over a month now and many people have asked me “How was Korea?” So I’ve decided to put down some of my thoughts about the country and my time there.

My job in Korea was to teach English to Grade 3s to 6s. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Using resources from EPIK and Dave’s ESL, as well as some friends who begun teaching there before me, I quickly learned about lesson plans, lesson flow, and classroom management. The first few weeks were intimidating but, once I got into the hang of things, it became a whole lot easier. I will never forget the first time driving up to the school and three kids stopped, mouths gaping, pointing at me as I drove by. They were excited, which helped ease my own nerves.

In regard to Korean life, Koreans always seems to be in a hurry to do something. I don’t get it. I’m sure North Americans are guilty of the same thing, but, as an outsider, I noticed that everything done by Koreans needed to be done right away. If you were a foreigner, you were allowed some lenience. I really felt bad for my co-teacher because every time she received a phone call, she stopped everything to attend to the call, and then (sometimes) sprinted out of the classroom to take care of whatever business needed to be taken care of.

If there’s one thing you’ll soon notice when you go to Korea it’s that everything is Korean. LG and Samsung, Daewoo, KIA and Hyundai, and Angel-in-Us. It’s kinda creepy. Jim Rogers, a renowned New York investor, wrote in his book Adventure Capitalist, that Korea came across as “artificial”. He’s got a point. Korean companies dominate the landscape; not many foreign companies (especially not Japanese, i.e. Sony and Panasonic!) can be found here!

And how about those cab drivers? You really learn to appreciate life after you’ve made it home alive in a cab. If there was one reason to learn the Korean language, it was so you could tell the cab driver where to you lived, and to go slower!

The Korean language. I loved learning Hangul, if only because I could make an attempt to talk to every cute girl that walked by. Aside from that, Hangul looks like such a happy language. Look at a paragraph of Hangul and tell me that you do not see little faces, some happy, some unamused, some winking, some confused!

Cyclops:

Unamused:

Drunk winking:

Wearing cool glasses and smiling:

Surprised pirate:

Sly and cool:

Those are just some of the things I saw when I first looked the Korean writing system. Here’s a sample:

언제나 어디서나 날 따라다니는 이 스포트 라이트
어딜가나 쫓아오지 식당 길거리 까페 나이트
도대체 얼마나 나이 들어야 이놈의 인기는 식으러 들지 원
섹시한 내 눈은 고소영
아름다운 내 다린 좀 하지원
어쩌면 좋아 모두 나를 좋아하는 것 같애 oh no

-from “So Hot” by Wondergirls

Don’t you see the faces? Tell me you see the faces! (Okay, it’s a stretch, but the first time I saw it, I swear I saw faces!)

Some of my friends thought Korea was a third-world country. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Korea is probably more developed than most parts of North America! If you want your luxury shopping (Gucci, Prada, etc.) you’ve got it. Movies? All the English movies are shown in addition to some Korean movies subtitled in English. Music? Great rock and jazz music to be found in Seoul, while Busan seems to be overrun with foreigners and their music groups. Food? Take your pick, all western fast food joints and many European foods (such as pizza or kebabs) are available. Coffee? Yes, Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Angel-in-Us, and my personal favourite (because they gave me cake every time), Cherami (exit 6, Goejeong Station, Saha-gu, Busan). And don’t forget the largest sea-food market in Asia, Jagalchi in Busan. You’ve never tasted fresher raw fish. You walk down any number of isles offering a variety of fish and sea creatures, pick which ones you want, take a seat, slug some soju, then eat. My most expensive bill there was $50, and that was apparently for some “expensive” fish. I can only imagine what the same bill would be in Canada.

And how about that Kpop? Well, words will fail any attempt to describe Korean pop music. Let’s just say, they’ve got America beat at cranking out popstars. America only uses one pop star and makes him/her a star. Korea? They take 18 young men or women, put them on a stage, and make them sing and dance. Be sure to check out Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry, Sorry”, Wonder Girls’ “So Hot” (see the lyrics above), and my favourite, “Fire” by 2NE1.

I enjoyed my time in Korea. I’d like to return to Korea one day, possibly to teach, or maybe just to visit. Or maybe to shoot another movie? (See Coffee and Milk below.) The world is a large place and I would really like to see more of it.

PS – In regard to North-South relations, the only “bomb” I experienced was mixing soju with beer, which my kids called “pok tan ju”, translated to mean “the bomb”.

Coffee and Milk featured on travel website

August 3, 2010

My short film, Coffee and Milk, has been featured on the travel website Art of Backpacking. You can view it here:

http://www.artofbackpacking.com/film-feature-coffee-and-milk-teaching-in-south-korea/

Article on Teaching English in South Korea

August 3, 2010

I’ve written an article on teaching English in South Korea. My friend Mike has posted it to his travel website. You can find it here:

http://www.artofbackpacking.com/teaching-english-in-south-korea/

I have been putting together a couple of posts about Korea that I will post later.

48 cities. 16 countries.

July 20, 2010

London (England)

Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice (Italy)

Vienna (Austria)

Prague (Czech Rep)

Berlin (Germany)

Amsterdam, Utretch, Rotterdam (Holland)

Brussells (Belgium)

Toronto, Kingston, Montreal, Vancouver (Canada)

Cheong Un, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Andong, Okpo, Daejeon, Jeonju, Kyongju, Boreyong, Seoul (South Korea)

Kuala Lampur, Cameron Highlands, Georgetown, Perhentian Islands (Malaysia)

Singapore (Singapore)

Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Kanchanabury (Thailand)

Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kaam Samnoor (Cambodia)

Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi (Vietnam)

Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang (Laos)

Taipei (Taiwan)

48 cities. 16 countries.

What a journey! I’m exhausted just thinking about it! Although I was able to unpack my luggage for an extended period in Korea, it always hung over my head that, especially by month 7, I was going to be leaving. And, wow, who knew how much crap you can accumulate over a year?! Oh my! In any event, I’ve lived out of a couple cases of luggage for the last 1.5 years. I backpacked through Europe for a month before heading back to Canada to apply for my South Korean work visa, then jetted off to SoKo to teach English for a year. Deciding to stay in Asia for summer vacation, I travelled through Malaysia and Singapore before returning to SoKo, only to be quarantined at my apartment during the swine flu epidemic. Once my contract finished, I headed to Bangkok and, deciding that I no longer wanted to work there, I flew down to Phuket to do some Muay Thai training. After three weeks of intense training, I rested my shins (and possibly a broken thumb) as I bussed to Phnom Penh via Bangkok. Volunteering in Cambodia for a month left me with a choice to go to Vietnam, which I took, and spent 2.5 weeks there before taking the cheap, but long, bus ride to Vientiane in Laos. Three cities in Laos and then it was back to Chiang Mai for a few days before heading back to Bangkok to arrange my flight back to Canada. Not wanting to go back, I decided to stop over in Taipei for a week and absolutely loved it, I even started looking for jobs! But, it was time to return to Canada. Vancouver-bound, I stayed for a week with some friends and then booked my ticket back to my home town, Winnipeg.

Fascinating, that’s all I can say. I did that? I seriously travelled all those places?

Yep, says my bank account.

Yep, say the numerous self-portraits.

Yep, say the friends who politely smile when I ask what they’ve been up to lately.

Now I sit in Winnipeg putting some things together and meeting my family and friends. But I’ll leave that to another post at a later date. For now, it’s time to sit back and remember the good times.

Coffee and Milk – Short Film

July 15, 2010

Coffee and Milk was the short film I made in Busan, South Korea with a Murat Copcu, a Kyungsung University PhD film student, and my Grade 6 advanced English class. I’ve uploaded the video to Vimeo, but WordPress won’t let me embed the video below. Click the link below to watch the movie.

Coffee and Milk from Steven Sirski on Vimeo.

Week 2 – April 26th to April 30th, 2010

April 30, 2010

So I’ve finished my 3 week stint teaching English in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I’ll miss the kids. It was like seeing one big family taking care of each other. I took quite a few pictures on my last day, and the kids and I had fun using the video camera to record our antics, even in front of the Australian lady visitor we had (no idea who she was). Watching the kids take care of each other was phenomenal. If some kid fell down and hit his head, often he cried for 3 seconds until someone acknowledged his pain and suffering, and then he stopped and ran off to the next activity. I saw kids falling off of benches (and yes, I did try to stop them), and all they needed was a hug to keep going. My mom used to tell me to be more resilient. Sheeit, these kids are the epitome of the word.

So how did it go? It was fun. I didn’t try to teach the kids anything new, opting instead to get them using whatever knowledge they had already. I read some more books to them and then on Wednesday we watched Kung Fu Panda. Thursday was actually a write-off since I was out with a head cold (and I know which little devil gave it to me!!!) This was a very easy week. My goal on Friday was to make a movie with the kids, but NONE of them were interested. I stopped by again on Saturday with some treats for the kids and we had a party. I bought some VCDs (Khmer karaoke) for the kids to sing along with, but then I was informed that the DVD player didn’t work. One of the kids had an old CD player and managed to find some computer speakers (I have NO idea where they came from) and made one of the CDs he had work. I don’t think the kids enjoyed the music I brought 😦

It’s been a very good experience for me while at SFODA. I would come back. Many of the other volunteers who I’ve met have different itineraries than I. Some are in Cambodia explicitly to volunteer to complete some degree requirements, others are on prolonged travels and have no urgency to get back to where they came from. I do question whether or not I made a difference in the kids’ lives. I’m told that they were asking for me the day I was absent, but I wonder if I’m just one of many open-minded and fun volunteers that have passed through those gates. I’ve also been informed that the staff thinks I’m an actor because I can change my voice (yes, including my amazing British/Australian/Scottish/Latin accent, my “gay” voice, my penchant to sing and my high-pitched female voice) and my facial expressions.

As I move towards Vietnam this weekend, I can’t help but reflect on how far I’ve come over the last 3 months alone. I finished up a contract in South Korea that put me in touch with a whole swack of interesting people (such as crazy Blackburn women, a rockstar, a natural playa, beautiful women, a great cook, amongst others). And now I’m moving through southeast Asia having met fighters in Thailand (including a squadron of Canadians in Phuket), a British diplomant (well, I call him them because he’s a hell of a lot nicer than I am to the tuk-tuk drivers), and now hot Swedish and Asian women.

With that, Vietnam, here I come.


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