Tuesday, December 13, 2011


 Our school here in Korea has been getting some great press lately.  Here is a nice article, translated below, that gives a feel for what we are trying to accomplish here.

December 2011

The True School
“Be a good person, not just a good student.” This is a phrase that was found written in a classroom of Chadwick International in Songdo, Incheon. After spending a day at Chadwick International, I realized once again how education can play an important part in shaping one’s life.

After driving on the 3rd Gyeongin Highway from Gangnam for about 40 minutes, you will arrive at Chadwick International, established in Songdo International City. As the largest foreign education facility in Korea, Chadwick International is a global educational institution with its main campus in California, United States. As I stepped onto the campus, I remembered the saying, ‘the starting point of education that prestigious private schools believe in begins from the design of its building.’ While looking at the school’s clean and beautiful facilities built on a 14,000 pyeong land, I could also see that the school put in a considerable amount of effort to accommodate the students. The building with facilities such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, and auditoriums is located between the elementary school building and the middle and high school building to minimize the movement of students. In spaces between these buildings, there are gardens and places to rest. What impressed me is that they used glass plates for walls and roofs to let sunlight pass through classes, aisles, and stairs inside the buildings. Rays of warm sunlight in late fall fell onto the students who were circled around a teacher during a class. Such sight can warm anyone’s heart.

Chadwick International Shows the Model for Open Education
I began observation of classes at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. All the classes in the Elementary School were based on the IB curriculum, which is based on creative ideas of students, made up of 15 to 16 students and a teacher in the classroom. I felt a spurt of strong energy as I saw boys focusing on tightening screws on their self-made robots and girls concentrated in calculating the distance between cities and countries using a very huge map. I saw a music class where students played African drums while singing a song, and also observed a class that designed buildings suitable according to each city characteristics using computer software. These classes seemed more like an extension of playing. In the Cisco Tele-presence Room, students from Chadwick School and Chadwick International were having a discussion over a given topic. In the auditorium, which could accommodate 700 people, students took the role of actors, producers, lighting directors, and audio directors to come up with a play. In the aquatic center, which has capabilities for scuba diving classes, there was a swimming class in progress. I was impressed that there wasn’t an atmosphere of competition and separation of superior students. Teachers carefully observed each student to find items that interest him or her the most, and led the class accordingly. Chadwick School’s educational philosophy, which believes that the role of the school and teachers is to help students become a person of honesty, responsibility, respect, compassion and fairness, has been realized at Chadwick International. A phrase, “Be a good person, not just a good student,” that someone wrote on a whiteboard of a classroom seemed like a class motto. That single sentence made me feel strange to a point where I wondered if I was actually in Korea. Jeff Mercer, the headmaster of Chadwick International, said, “Chadwick International has a great meaning as it is the first step that Chadwick School, which has 75 years of tradition, has taken in Asia, and we are doing so based on a ‘One School, Two Campuses’ model. This school has also been a milestone in the history of Chadwick. The uniqueness of Chadwick International is that this campus in Songdo shares the same educational philosophy as that of Chadwick School in California, which has implemented the same excellent curriculum that has been proven for 75 years, with the unique characteristics of Korea and integrated into the curriculum in good harmony.” I was also informed that students of Chadwick School received attention for their academic achievements last year. This is a natural result that derived from the educational philosophy of Chadwick School.

On the way back to Seoul, I saw students coming off buses, carrying a heavy backpack, and heading their way to private teaching institutes after school. I came to think about what would’ve happened if I received different type of education from that of what I had already received during my childhood. I remember raising doubts after hearing news that Chadwick School was going to establish its second campus in Songdo, Incheon. I wondered why Chadwick, one of the most prestigious private schools in the U.S., wanted to build its second campus in Korea. However, after visiting the campus, my questions were answered. Chadwick International in Songdo, Incheon, is an important milestone of open education in Korea that could enhance the minds of students.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


THIS is what I alluded to in my video from our home bathroom! Koreans must have the cleanest bung holes in the world! Two different warm wash sprays, blow dry, heated seat, and a deodorizer! Sounds like a hair-dresser for your arse!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Lunch is always interesting at school. We have International and Korean options every day, though both usually involve rice. I love our food, it's what food should be like back home in schools. It's homemade, balanced, always incorporates fresh salad and never has sweets. The cafeteria distributes an educational flyer with recipes and health tips. Now if I could just get used to boiled octopus.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Self Service Bars

I love this idea, grab your beer out of the self service fridge. Walk it over to the register ( grabbing some popcorn along the way) to add it to your tab, and take it back to your table. The only question is, who drinks Icehouse, Honey Brown, or Red Dog? Good thing they stock good Euro beer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

House In Songdo

Our House


We are indeed moving on up. Living in this deluxe apartment in the sky is a long ways from our cabin in the woods of NC that we lived in while working for Outward Bound. We're not totally sure of ourselves in this place, but we like the space and the kitchen is going to make a great place to brew beer. Strange things like a TV and a kitchen table are here, it's all very unsettling. And the technology is ridiculous, the whole apartment is full of touch screens and Electronic gadgets that speak to us in Korean. See for yourself! 


(I can't get the youtube videos to embed, so I posted the house movie in a separate post above)  Now, who is going to join us over here in Korea?  It's a great country, and a perfect stop along the way to the rest of Asia.  We live next to the airport, so it's all easy and good!  Come visit, we certainly have room for you!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Blogging from the phone, does it work?

Monday, August 29, 2011

I can't get away from Efes

Most people think Turkey is an alcohol free country. Not so. The Turks drink. Heartily. Ataturk, their version of George Washington, was famous for loving the local anis-seed liquor, Raki. He's also got his own brewery for beer. Sure, the strict Islamists don't partake, but Turkey is a secular country, and so to each their own. For the most part.

The trouble is, as with many things, Turkey's beer manufacturing sector is a blatant monopoly. Efes Beverage Company makes not only their beer, but also Becks, Fosters, even MGD! That'd be all fine and good if Efes was decent beer, but it's not. I'll grant you, their Dark and Wheat variations are drinkable, and Becks won't let them mess up their German Purity laws very much; but the regular Efes Pilsner sucks.

And you can't escape it.

The only other brewery in town is Tuborg, and, to be honest, they aren't much better. You can get Bud, and Heineken, and, strangely, Brooklyn Brewery's Brown and Lager, but you will spend, I kid you not, 11 to 13 dollars a beer on any of these.

So, unless I was brewing, or had a hook up from the American base, then Efes was the go to beer.

And again, it sucks. And gives you a headache. The only good Efes we ever had was on hot days on the Mediterranean, and, let's face it, anything cold probably tastes good under these circumstances.

Though we hated leaving Turkey, I'll have to admit, there was clearly no love lost when Erin and I parted ways with the old Efes.

Which is why it was so damned funny when I went for a beer run in D.C. this summer, and came out, having spent 10 dollars on a six-pack of Efes, just to see the look on Erin's face. The Lebanese guy in the store gave me a thumbs up when I bought it, "good beer," he said.

I just nodded.

Here is my buddy Rhett and I, knocking back an Efes before a night tour of the U.S. monuments on the mall in D.C.

Having visited Turkey, my sister too appreciated the humor in finding Efes in her hometown.

And of course, the obligatory monument to Efes shot.

It's not surprising to find Turkish beer in D.C. My sister's roommate works at a fancy Turkish restaurant, and there are plenty of Turks wandering the streets. D.C. is of course, worldly like that. What did surprise me, was to find Efes in Korea.

With a catchy slogan as well, "Thirsting for Life!" and "The most popular beer in Europe!" Really??? Most popular huh? Interesting.

The Koreans loved it, or, maybe they just love a free sample:

An interesting observation by Erin, nowhere on the export Efes do they say it's from Turkey. What, Prime Minister Erdogan, aren't we proud of having the most popular beer in Europe come from your country?

Luckily, where I found this Efes was at the International Beer Festival, two blocks down from my house, and Efes was NOT all they were selling. I was pretty damned excited to find this nice little selection of beers, imported, if you will notice, and are still paying attention, by some company that is "Leading Korea's Craft BEEL Revolution." Ah, that one never gets old. Beer posters all over the place, and someone still messes up and put's an L where the R should be.

But seriously, not a bad selection, right? You can't argue with being able to buy an Anderson Valley IPA, two blocks from your house in Korea, now, can you.

Rogue, Lost Coast, Anderson Valley, and a couple of small Euro brewers all got to sell their wares here through this Korean Beel distributor. And I got to reap the benefits. The only thing that was the same as in Turkey, was the price, 10 damn dollars a bottle. And 20 for a Delirium Tremens!

Shit, pass me one of those free Efes Mr. Beel man.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Screen Shot from my computer

Oh, no, I've been rocked out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nore-Bang, what is it?

It's late at night.

You walk down the street, and surreptitiously sneak through darkened doors underneath neon signs.

At the top of the stairs, to your left, are a series of doors, all closed, with music and lights emanating from underneath the crack between the floor and the door.

To your right, a woman in an evening gown and lots of makeup, standing behind a cash register, asks you if you would like a room, and if it would be normal, or V.I.P?

You look to your boss, your headmaster, and you say, gee, I don't know, what do you think?

He says, it's Nore-Bang, let's go all out. It's the last weekend before school starts, right?

As the young woman escorts your group down the hallway of smoky rooms, your pulse quickens. The soju, Korean vodka, you had with dinner blurs your vision, and possibly judgement.

But then again, it's just Nore-Bang, Korea's version of Karaoke. So, what's to worry?

Now, what did YOU think I was talking about?

Because, in Korea, when you want to go sing Karaoke, you do it in a private room. You rent the room, grab some beer, some chips, some of the aforementioned Soju, and all your mates, and you head off to your own private concert.

Awesome. Even it's not what you thought I was talking about.

You cheeky monkeys.

Private sound system, laser lights, a massive remote control that accesses 1000,s of songs, a huge flat screen TV, and lots and lots and lots of bad singing. THAT is what Korean Nore-bang is all about. Here is the evidence:

It still doesn't beat the time our school in Ecuador hired us a chiva, an Ecuadorian party bus, and the whole time, my principal kept worrying that one of us would be decapitated by a power line as we partied on the roof of the bus.

Nope, it's not Ecuador. But I'd say it's far safer, and just as much fun.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A quick tour of Songdo

Yet again, we've moved somewhere extraordinary. South America was latin spice, with plenty of edge. A bit dangerous, but a bit free as well. Turkey was an Islamic country, but with the secular spirit of Ataturk, a visionary for the future of a tolerant world. Korea is the future. It is George Jetson.

We've moved to New Songdo City, essentially a 30 billion dollar neighborhood that has sprung up from the mud flats surrounding the coastal city of Incheon, Korea. Most of the idea for this city has come from the obvious looking real-estate tycoon second to the right in this photo:

His name is Stan Gale, and he is gambling big on this place. He has essentially built a city of the future, and his plan is that it will attract international businesses to come and settle here. We, at Chadwick, will be teaching those international students. Hopefully. You can read more about Stan, who is seen here being chatted up by our PE teacher, Wyatt, here.

So, what does Stan's city of the future look like?

Well, it's tall, with lots of skyscrapers reaching to the sky, but it's also green. Gale has planned tons of green space, canals, lakes, parks, running trails, and lots and lots of trees to make this as comfortable an urban environment as possible.

Here, is Korea's tallest building.

And, here is our apartments. Not as tall, but impressive nonetheless. We're surrounded by several buildings, but they have places them in such a way that nobody has to actually have their vision obscured by another building. Several teachers even have a view of the sea!

We've got a subway stop our our door, a runnning park on the opposite corner, and a corner store that sells Guiness and Hoegarden beer. What more do you need? Just a good bar to have a party in, and here it is: Cafe Moim. DONE!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Staff Picture

As Chadwick International went from K-7 to PK-8, and doubled class sizes, the staff literally doubled this year. There were something like 35 new hires. It's a great mix of folks, from places across the world such as New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, China, Wales, and Zimbabwe.

Unlike many international schools, Chadwick broke the cardinal rules of refusing to hire teachers without a minimum of two years experience overseas, and refusing to hire teachers with non-teaching spouses/partners. Normally, these two requirements shrink the pool of qualified candidates quite a bit, but Chadwick was able to scoop up some real coups by bucking the norms of these international teaching guidelines.

Just another reason why I love this school so far.

That, and my headmaster plays ultimate fisbeee.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Life is busy. We arrived in Incheon, Korea (just outside of Seoul) two and a half weeks ago. So far, we've moved in to a new house, bought all the related sundries, began new jobs at a new school, met a whole new set of colleagues and friends, explored the running trails in the green space of our school, and had way too many happy hours sponsored by our school.

We couldn't be more pleased with our move. Our school is wonderful, supportive, and well funded. The students are cheerful learners. Our neighborhood is safe, quiet, and surprisingly green.

The bars have Guiness on tap. I even found and IPA in Seoul. The subway is clean, efficient, cheap, and two blocks away from our house.

Our house is a wonder of technological connectivity. We can call our neighbors from a flat screen video panel, which also controls everything from the front door to the oven.

I have TV in my bath.

Our lights are controlled by remotes, and we enter the house with a fingerprint scanner.

The cat found a huge cardboard scratchy at the local version of Wall-Mart, E-Mart. She loves having a big house to run around in.

Today, we'll explore the vegetable and plant market that sets up outside our house on Thursdays.

The school has excellent toilet paper.

Korean Barbeque involves grilled, marinated beef, pork, and garlic and onions at your table. This is a good good thing.

So, we are happy. More to come soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


After authoring several blogs on teaching in Ecuador and Turkey, I am now moving to Korea. This may be a potential host site for the new blog.