DAY 1 – Karen and three friends eating their first Korean meal of many. This was in the Inchon Korean Airport on the day of our arrival. Typically Koreans use a spoon and chopsticks for meals.
In school this year, Karen took Korean language class. She said she wanted to learn Korean because a number of her friends were Korean and she wanted to learn their language. She studied hard and did well, we are proud of her efforts. At one point during the semester Karen said they, the students, asked their Korean teachers if they could take a field trip to Korea. I just smiled and thought, wouldn’t that be nice…but it will never happen.
Karen and her friend, Michelle, on the airport bus on the way to the church which was hosting our group. All of the buses in Korea were very fancy, clean, and comfortable, such as you see in this photo.
Well, I was certainly surprised when about a month later Karen said they actually were planning a trip to Korea for any students in the Korean classes! So, this past March 12 students and 8 adults went to Korea, four of the adults were Korean. (The three teachers and one of their sons who is a senior and could help with the boys on our trip.)
Standing in front of the guest apartments the Halleluiah church was allowing us to use. It was bitter cold and windy on the day of our arrival. Much colder than it ever is in Kenya.
A view from in front of the church. Their church had a huge sanctuary, was televised, and had four services a day.
At first we wondered if we should allow Karen, a 13 year old, on a field trip to another country. That was asking a lot. But then, it also really seemed like a great adventure, and when when would she ever have a chance to go to Korea again, a country that doesn’t speak a language we understand? Then I also thought, why don’t I ask if they could use more chaperones, maybe I could go with Karen! The answer was yes.
More Korean food. One of the teachers is explaining what we are eating. Can you tell by our faces that we are exhausted? 🙂 This is the evening meal of our fist day in Korea…after not sleeping well on our flights there.
I enjoyed most of the food we ate. They have a lot of Kimchi with their meals, a red, spicy vegetable.
So, flights were booked and plans were made. It didn’t really sink in that we were traveling to Korea until the week of the trip. Then it both scared and excited me.
The church service. Notice the full choir, orchestra, and a big tv screen up front.
The three Korean teachers were very well planned and the trip went very smoothly. I enjoyed the trip and was exhausted by the end, but had learned so much. It was well worth it.
The trip was planned over our school spring break which was 10 days long. A nice little surprise came from the Kenyan government while on our trip. They proclaimed the day after we returned as a national holiday because of the swearing in of the new president. Because of this, we had a day to adjust to normal sleeping and a less busy schedule before back into the daily school routine. It was a really nice gift.
The church used little paper “cups” for their drinking water. The cups were flat like an envelope. You opened them, put water in them, and drank as best you could. I think it was a learned art how to do it well.
Here are some thoughts from our experience.
It is really hard to navigate in a country where you can not read or understand anything. Thankfully we had Koreans in our group to guide us! Karen said she could read a lot of the Korean signs but didn’t know what they actually said. Not bad for only having one semester of the language so far. 🙂
The church also served a free lunch of noodle soup to anyone who wanted it every Sunday.
The travel time to Korea seemed long, but it went well. We had a 5 hour flight from Nairobi to Abi Dhabi, then an 8 hour flight from Abi Dhabi to Korea. We used Etihad airlines.
Here I am along with two of the Korean teachers, one of their friends from Korea, and another chaperone on our trip. Notice how tall I appear.
Using bus transport in the city of Seoul.
at an aquarium
Karen with two of her Korean teachers. The lady in pink is made of wax, we are in a Kimchi museum.
The students were so excited to eat at McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, KFC, Burger King, and Cold Stone Creamery whenever they could during our trip!
On the subway
Karen and Michelle with some security personnel in a historical area.
Me with Eunice and QuanOk.
Karen LOVED seeing a horse. Wanted to take it with her.
historical site of past kings and queens
very detailed painting and woodwork
I loved being able to share this experience with Karen. Notice the city buildings in the background behind the historical structure.
walking through some streets full of shops
a shop selling traditional style boxes for jewelry
Sitting in front of a river that runs under Seoul City – can you tell they are cold? 🙂
Karen in front of trees filled with wishes locked onto metal trees at the city tower where you go to see over the city.
Seoul City view from top of tower.
Visiting another site to learn more of the Korean history.
Karen was a celebrity of sorts in Korea. She had many random Korean people come up and want to take pictures with her. They also often pulled other black people from our group into the picture. Maybe being black equals celebrity status! John actually had a Korean student in his class ask him after our trip why he saw John’s daughter on a Korean blog! Made us laugh. Could also be the pink hair.
Our group after a show on a rainy day at an amusement park. It was COLD!
Karen and Michelle wearing a Hanbok, traditional Korean dress. Some Korean ladies gave everyone one as a gift!
another traditional Korean meal
At night we slept on mats on the heated floor in this guest house. This is the traditional Korean way. In the morning you fold up the beds and then you have room to sit on the floor.
Another Korean city
Standing on the beach.
Visiting a fish market – so much to see – smelled quite fishy
Visiting tombs of ancient kings and queens. Each mound in the background is a tomb.
Horse gear from ages past.
More palaces showing historical sites.
enjoying Korean food and good friends
visiting the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on a cold and rainy day
photo with the lead pastor of the church where we stayed most of the week in their guest rooms and went to their Sunday service
getting ready to head back home to Kenya
daughter and mom – great memories – so glad we could share them