Sunday, November 25, 2012

California - HERE I COME!

I've never lived out west.  Growing up, my family made several moves along the East Coast.  I studied at the University of Colorado, the furthest place west that I've called home.  The last eight years have primarily been spent living abroad.  I've lived in four different countries on three different continents.  You would think that by now I'd be comfortable moving to a new location.  However, this move has got me a bit out of sorts.

As strange as my nomadic history appears on the surface, I've always had an underlying plan.  Long ago, I knew that I wanted to volunteer and learn Spanish, so I ended up in Costa Rica.  When I decided to start teaching, I had other continents (Africa) and organizations (Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos) already in mind.  I previously made a post about synchronicity which illustrates some of the "happy coincidences" in my life.  But what about now?

I can't really pinpoint what it is that's drawing me out west.  I've heard many great things about the Bay Area, so I have figured I'd give it a try.  It'll certainly be a change from the tropical landscape of the Dominican Republic and the dry desert of rural Namibia.  But as I wait to hear about a pending grad school application, I'm cognizant of the fact that this move might not take.  Perhaps this could turn out to be a failed experiment?  In which case, I'll pack up my bags and move on to the next place.  However, I'm trying to convince myself that I'm not the type of person who always has to be on the move.  We'll see if that's true, as I attempt to do something I haven't done in over a decade - establish some roots.   

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Shout-Out to Saint Damien Hospital

Saint Damien Hospital is pediatric hospital in Haiti and provides all services free of charge. It is funded by private donations through the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) organization.  Saint Damien's new facility opened in 2006 and provides quality medical treatment for disadvantaged and sick children in Haiti.  For more information check out http://saintdamienhospital.nph.org/

Front of Saint Damien Hospital

Congratulations to Father Rick Frechette!  Father Rick is the National Director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos and oversees a network of child care facilities that includes an orphanage, a pediatric hospital and several community outreach posts. He also runs the St. Luke Foundation, which provides 450 jobs, outreach and health care to more than 120,000 patients each year.  Earlier this month, Fr. Rick and the Haitian team were recipients of the Opus Prize.  The Opus Prize is a $1 million dollar humanitarian award that acknowledges individuals and their organizations that are largely unsung, yet provide exceptional and unique responses to difficult social problems in the world’s poorest communities.




In April of this year, I visited the NPH home in Haiti.  I spent a few days in Tabarre (a suburb of Port-au-Prince) visiting Saint Damien Hospital and a nearby primary school called Angels of Light, which opened in 2010.  Then I traveled a couple of hours into the mountains to the NPH home in Kenscoff where over 700 children live.  

The day before I left Haiti to travel back to the Dominican Republic, I was standing in the reception area of Saint Damien and thought I heard someone calling my name, "Wes!"

Initially, I ignored the call, figuring I must be hearing things.  I didn't know anyone in Haiti besides a volunteer whom I was visiting.  Then I heard it again, "Wes!"

I turned and didn't see anyone.  Then I felt a tug on my shirt and looked down.  It was Paul!  I had met Paul a two months earlier in the Dominican Republic.  Paul was diagnosed with cancer and was a patient at Saint Damien's.  He traveled with his mother to the Dominican Republic in order to receive additional treatment in Santo Domingo.  Paul and his mother stayed at the NPH home in San Pedro where I worked.  Paul loved to play basketball and on several occasions we had shooting contests.  And he beat me most of the time!  I'm a bit of a lousy shooter.  

Paul returned to Haiti a few days after I left to travel here.  At the time, I had no idea he was leaving.  But I was glad that I got to see him again.  Unfortunately, I've had no contact with Paul since that day we saw each other at Saint Damien.  It's difficult to get updates since he wasn't a child at the NPH home, but a patient at the hospital.  I wish him all the best, and I'm sure wherever he's at he's perfecting that jump shot.

The Two Basketball Stars



Friday, November 16, 2012

Parque Nacional Corcovado, Costa Rica (A Photographic Memory)

This picture was taken November 16th, 2005, exactly seven years ago.

Hiking the secluded beaches of Parque Corcovado.


Corcovado National Park is the largest national park in Costa Rica.  It's located on the Osa Peninsula in the southwest region of the country.  To get to Corcovado, it’s a modest 10-hour bus ride from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, then a 1.5 hour taxi ride to Carate, before you can hike one kilometer to the park entrance at La Leona. 

With its pristine vistas, Corcovado’s tranquility is only surpassed by its abundant bio-diversity.  The park is home to roughly 140 different mammal species, 400 bird species, and 500 species of trees.  Four ranger stations are connected along a network of timeless trails providing sanctuary to nature lovers, hikers, and tourists alike.

I'll always remember what the ranger at the La Leona station told me when our group first arrived.  “Avoid crossing too far up the river because you may encounter crocodiles, and don’t cross too close to the mouth of the river because sharks like to feed there.”  It wasn't reassuring.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Acknowledgements - Happy Time Go Fast

       Kamsahamnida = Thank You

         Kam     -     Sa     -    Ham    -    Ni     -     Da

Photobucket


I’m indebted to so many people for the completion of this project.  First, I’d like to thank everyone who offered their suggestions, valuable insights, and humble opinions.  And I want to give a BIG thanks to Tom Weston, Lynn Weston, Helen Gallagher, Margo Schaedel, Denise Gates, Dan Hendler, and John Sollazzo for combing through the unfinished manuscript for grammar and spelling mistakes, typos, and awkward sentences.  Believe me, there were a lot.  I even made up a word at one point, which will remain unknown to protect my intellectual pride.  But hey, the English language is constantly changing, so in that regard, I’m a pioneer.

Next, I’d like to thank all the wonderful people I met while living and working in South Korea.  You have no idea how much you’ve enhanced the value of my experience.  A special thanks to the people of Korea, you made my stay in your country unforgettable.  The foreign community in Korea also made me feel right at home.  I was very fortunate – my colleagues and co-workers were incredible people, and the neighborhoods I lived in were amazing.  I could not have asked for more.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I would like to thank all the Korean students who came under my tutelage.  I’m so lucky to have met you, and I hope that I made even half as much of an impact on you, as you have made on me.  These students gave me an introduction to teaching, and their kindness, care, and desire have motivated me to continue down this career path. 

South Korea is such an extraordinary and unique country.  Even though I don’t adhere to some of their cultural values, I’m able to appreciate the diversity of tradition, norms, and way of life.  I’m sure I have left a mark on the country, but I’ve taken away so much more.  Korea will always have a place in my heart, and no matter where I go, I will always consider it to be one of the several place I call home.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Book has Gone LIVE!

Happy Time Go Fast is now available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo eReader.

Amazon - Happy Time Go Fast (For Kindle)

Barnes and Noble - Happy Time Go Fast (For Nook)

Kobo - Happy Time Go Fast (For Kobo eReader)

Put yourself in the shoes of a first-time English teacher as soon as you open the book! 



Humorous, informative, lighthearted and educational, Happy Time Go Fast takes you inside the classroom and standing in front of the students.  Wes Weston shares amusing stories and anecdotes that illustrate his misadventures with discipline, classroom management, positive reinforcement, and even school romance.  These experiences are then put into context against the serious backdrop of English education in South Korea where the English craze is uncanny.

Happy Time Go Fast also takes you outside the classroom, examining what it’s like to live in a foreign country.  From learning the Korean language to learning how to use chopsticks, from discovering the fascinating world of Konglish to discovering the tranquility of Korean saunas, Wes Weston reveals some of the cultural norms and quirks of life in South Korea. 

Whether you’re considering teaching English in Korea, or just intrigued by the thought of it, Happy Time Go Fast paints a vivid picture of a teacher’s life in Korea, folds it into a paper airplane, and sends you flying towards an overseas adventure.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Cover - Happy Time Go Fast

After many trials and tribulations, and an extensive amount of time fiddling around with a photo shop program, I've finally settled on a cover.  The process was frustrating, to say the least.  However, I'm happy with the final product, which is all that matters. :)  

The book is a teacher travelogue, and illustrates my experience teaching English in South Korea.  It's the first book in a series called Do U English? that captures my overseas teaching adventure.