Friday, April 16, 2010

A Good Week

School was hectic this week due to the visit of a committee from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), whose accreditation we need if our students are to attend any American university with our diplomas. Although the visit went well and the members of the committee were lovely people, it's still a bit nerve-wracking to have people coming round to your classrooms and observing all you do.

Still, when they presented their initial findings, I thought they were dead on about the school's strengths and weaknesses (or, "areas of strength" and "areas of growth" in WASCese), and I hope to see their recommendations implemented.

I've been feeling quite nice lately. Work is manageable and I've been getting out on the town to have - dare I say it - a social life. On Wednesday I went out to dinner with Bonnie and Kim, two amazing women I don't get to spend enough time with. Some excellent conversations were had, which only cemented the feeling I've been having lately that my friendships here are now well-worn and comfortable.

On Thursday I went in pursuit of my new hobby. In a continuing effort to get away from the tyranny of the computer screen, I thought it might be fun to try social dancing. I was rather dubious about it. As a child, I sucked at physical activity. I was lousy at sports and dreaded gym class as much as I now dread invasive surgery. I took dance classes for many years, too, but I just never seemed to "get" it. Eventually, out of sheer frustration, I convinced my mom to let me quit.

For some reason that I still don't understand, my brain and my limbs connected after adolescence. I was suddenly able to do forms of exercise that had always eluded me as kid. I also took up yoga, an activity that seemed to rewire my brain to make me almost graceful at times. But I still thought of dancing as something other people did. The fact that most of my daydreams include me rocking out on the dance floor with my celebrity crush of the moment has done little to alter this attitude.

Still, my best friend Maria has been dancing for years, and she's been trying to get me to come. She often goes to Seoul to swing dance, but when she found a salsa club here in Suwon she decided to learn that too. So I went along with her.

Turn Salsa Club

The club works like this. There is a lesson first where you learn new moves and practice them. You don't need a partner to join in, as it's expected that everyone will dance with everyone else. (As Maria says, "You improve by dancing with people above your level.") The men stand in one line, the women in another line, and you rotate partners. The class goes for about an hour, and then the dance party begins where you get a chance to "apply your learning" (more WASCese). That's when the club really starts to fill up with all kinds of people, Koreans and foreigners alike.

My teacher was a lovely Thai man who conducted much of the lesson in English. I didn't think that I'd be able to do well, but to my amazement I felt all of my old dance knowledge coming back to me. It's been buried in my brain all along - only this time, my brain knows how to tell my limbs what to do with it. The result? I can't remember the last time I had more fun! Obviously, I made a lot of mistakes, but they're fixable. I know I will improve with practice.

I danced and danced all night, and even though I didn't get to bed until after midnight, I smiled all day Friday and was in a great mood. I'll be headed back to the salsa club next week for sure. I've even found a place in Ottawa where I can practice during the summer.

Yesterday an Indian restaurant opened in our neighbourhood. I've been eagerly awaiting its appearance. Lauren, Elias and I went to check it out. We are pleased to report that it is up to par! I'm psyched to have Indian food so close at hand. Their gulab jamun is particularly good; it has lots of cardamom. I was also pleased to see that the restaurant was doing a roaring business for opening night.


I always feel good about the world after a good meal.

Today I have no plans, but I am happy with that. It's good to have a chance just to sit and relax a bit. I went outside for a walk and saw that the cherry blossoms are blooming at last. This is my favourite time of year in Korea and a sure sign that the prolonged winter is ending.


All this has made me quite cheerful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wait, Ottawa in the summer? Are you headed back this way in the near future? I am quite close to Ottawa, now... :)