The Next Leg of the Journey

Tomorrow I start a new job at VIU! I am going to take on the full-time role as the BBA Advisor that also includes advising students who are completing the certificate or diploma in business. This new phase at VIU brings me back to working 100% in one faculty for the first time in almost 20 years. What an adventure. This new role will bring be into a position of working with students from Nanaimo, across Canada and from around the world. I am excited and full of anticipation regarding all the people I will get to meet and work with from those I have known for years to people I will connect with for the first time this year. Anticipation!!

Growth and Development

Since my last post I have accomplished much.  I completed several programs with the Institute for Life Coach Training (ILCT) including the Certified Life Coach and Wellness Coaching Specialist Program.  I completed the exams and written submissions and experience requirements to become a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and since then have completed a Narrative Coach, Enhanced Practitioner program with Dr. David Drake.  The full-on learning mode I have been in has resulted in both professional and personal growth, development and satisfaction for me. My love of learning certainly is not dead!  My new skills have allowed me to develop the Student Success Coaching program at VIU.  The workshops I offer have developed and morphed over the years and the coaching in the program is now all done by professionally trained coaches; at this point, that means just me!  It has been a fun four years since I began my journey of becoming a life coach.

In my professorship side of my professional house, I have moved out of Degree Advising and back into the classroom.  Currently, my teaching load includes teaching the “Diversity and Inclusion” course for both the Recreation and Sport and the Tourism Studies diplomas.  This course is a merging of  a couple of courses that were collapsed and combined into this one course.  For my continued professional development, I have now joined in the workshop series put on by CIEL called “The Non-Disposable Assignment: Enhancing Personalized Learning”.  My task is to come up with an assignment that is “non-disposable” and it will be a new assignment within both TOUR 153 and RMGT 153.  At this point, I am immersing myself in the examples and readings and musing about what I will develop.  Our first workshop included fun and thought-provoking discussions about our own most meaningful assignments when we were students.  Attributes such as meaningful, engaging and containing an element of public performance all seemed to feature in the examples shared around the table.

I will keep you posted on what I am learning and how my new “non-disposable” assignment for these courses is shaping up!

Emerging From The Chrysalis

Emerging From The Chrysalis

I have been cocooning. My personal life has been in transition along with my professional life. Today, I decided it was time to write a post.  The topic – Learner Support.

Emerging from the crysalis
Emerging from the chrysalis

Just prior to putting finger tips to keyboard, I pulled up my blog and realized that it has been one year and 2 days since my last post! Am I a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis? If I was beautiful before, I am a new creature today! I have a new position at Vancouver Island University (VIU) – Student Success Coach. I have completed my Foundations Course at the Institute for Life Coach Training (ILCT), an accredited coach training program through the International Coach Federation (ICF) and am part way through course work that will make me a certified Life Coach through ILCT. I hope to be a certified Life Coach by March 2016. I applied for and have been awarded a six month PD leave to pursue my Professional Certified Coach designation through the ICF, which I will commence in January 2017. And if you know me at all, I love a challenge and it is a rather ambitious goal. So, I am working hard to gain that level of competence as we speak.  Learner support!  It applies to practicing professionals as well as students, not yet employed in their future fields!  The learner support I receive from my employer is substantial and much appreciated!

Since my last post I re-entered the classroom and had such fun in my Inclusive Recreation and Sport class with some truly lovely people. Next month I will take an intensive 2-day workshop in Team Based Learning (TBL) through CIEL – the Center for Innovation and Excellence in Learning. I LOVE to learn with the good folks in that department. I will redesign my curriculum for that particular course in the workshop.  This is another example of learner support!

In the spring of 2015 I traveled to Belize on a field school with a mix of students ranging from Recreation, Tourism, Baking, Culinary students to Instructors in Business and Culinary Arts. As each of the student’s goals and reasons for participating in the school-kids-belizecacao-plantationmakingchocolatefield school were so different we took an individualized approach and borrowed from Future Mapping as a way for each student to set their individual learning goals for their experience in Belize. I learned Future Mapping as a technique from Michele Brookhaus from Beyond Well and applied this method to my own goals and taught the method to students going on this Field School. We did, however, all learn about the cacao bean and how it is processed into chocolate. Mmmmm… it was a delicious experience.

My own future map concerned setting up coaching for students at VIU on behalf of Student Affairs. My title is now Success Coach and Success Coaching is part of Student Success Services at Vancouver Island University along with Peer Coaching, which I oversee. We have just completed the revamp of the new website: Student Success Services. Notice that students can access a learning strategist, a peer coach or a success coach through this new learner support service at VIU.

Much has changed since I last posted.  I have been rather circumspect in some aspects of my life, but I love to learn and grow and be challenged in many spheres of my life and for that I am really grateful! I am also grateful for the learner support that VIU extends to not only its students, but also its employees. I continue to be challenged and grow in my practice – as a paid employee and as a human being. Moreover, my strong belief that education is a trans-formative experience continues to stand. My new vocation as a life coach is a wonderful, new extension of all my previous experiences and education. I am really looking forward to this year drawing to a close and entering the new year!  I hope and pray I will persist in my live, love, and laugh attitude and my love of life long learning!

Stepping Out – Learning New Skills.

imageMy intention this year is to challenge myself with learning and using new technologies.  I have been away from the classroom for many years during which I have taught in workshop settings, one on one office settings and through the creation of some videos with the expertise of students we hired into student work-op positions in the Advising Center.   I am crossing over into uncharted territory for me!  In January, I am going back into the classroom, but have decided to “flip” my class.

My intention to create a “flipped” learning experience has meant that I must become more proficient with our school’s learning management system: D2L.  I am, therefore, playing with D2L and creating course materials that can be accessed by students on-line during their “homework” time.  The flipped classroom moves more passive activities like readings, watching videos and lectures and Power Point lessons into the virtual, on-line learning space which creates more space for active learning within the classroom setting.  It all sounds very fun and I am busy trying to create lesson plans that actively and interactively process the more passive materials found on-line.  As I utilize this new format for setting up a learning environment I hope to be self-reflective and gather information from the students to learn what they like, do not like and have found effective or helpful in their learning process with this “new to me” teaching and learning format.

In preparation for the term, I also attended a Symposium on Scholarly Inquiry Into Teaching And Learning Practice.  It was fun learning from the session presenters, through conversation and discussion with faculty from around the province. The day gave me food for thought and I am now convinced I need to grow my connections with colleagues at my institution who are also interested in scholarly inquiry into teaching and learning practices.  Thankfully, our Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning at VIU also thinks this and has already sent out invitations to meet and grow the networks that already exist here. While at the Symposium, I also learned about this free course which I have subsequently signed up for, which takes place in the new year: Introduction to Learning Technologies.   Both the Symposium and this free on-line course are supported by BC Campus.  I hope to be able to report that the term was wildly successful and that the students and I all absolutely loved the flipped experience!  I am sure there will be bumps in the road, but I hope that the flipped experience, and my attempt to deliver on the creation of an engaging, interactive and fun face-to-face learning experience in the classroom will be a positive experience for all.  If I can also devise a simple and effective way to self-study, I will be absolutely satisfied with my foray back into the classroom this upcoming year!

 

My Dragon-Turtle Teapot

My Dragon-Turtle Teapot

My teapot and the fan I painted.
My teapot and the fan I painted when visiting the museum.

Here is the story of my teapot. JB said “wow, look at this amazing dragon teapot” and then he set it down. We were at the Korean potter’s studio and I decided as soon as I saw it and realized that John had put it down that I would buy it – if I had enough money! I did! And let me tell you – I am over the moon that I did! I just love my teapot!

12th Century Goreo Dynasty tortoise shape ewer.
12th Century Goreo Dynasty tortoise shape ewer, in the Korean National Museum.

The next time I saw “my teapot” we were in the Korean National Museum and an amazingly close facsimile was on display. It was a twelfth century Korean Goreo Dynasty piece of celadon stone wear water ewer – shaped like a tortoise sitting on a lotus flower. When I bought my pot I had no idea it was a replica of Goreo Dynasy stoneware! It just really spoke to me and when you hear what I have found out about the meaning of the symbolism represented in it, you might be as blown away by the significance of it as am I.

Closed and open lotus flowers.
Closed and open lotus flowers in a garden close to Cheonmachong in Gyeongju.

The Lotus flower symbolizes rising from suffering into enlightenment and freedom from suffering. This is what the dragon tortoise is seated upon. Notice that the lotus flower is open and not closed, which means that the flower is open to her surroundings and not closed off. The turtle herself is rich in symbolism. She is a universal symbol of birth, life, death and rebirth. I am currently going through a rebirthing process in my life, so the symbolism thus far is very significant to me.

Apparently, the tortoise spirit is a teacher of waiting and of vision. You must have both of these traits in order to be a successful treasure hunter. In other words, you must have an enduring ability to hold the vision of the treasure shown to you in meditation and you must wait with peaceful patience as your dreams transform from vision to physical manifestation.

We did not find my cups here! Just the tea and the knotted decoration.
We did not find my cups here! Just the tea and the knotted decoration.

So now I will tell you about finding the matching cups in Insadong. We were wandering around shopping and looking in all the fun shops and as we wandered I looked at the tea cups in every shop that had them. Not one of the cups that I picked up felt right. I had finally given up and told my friend we did not have to look for cups any more as I was just not feeling it. Maybe I would find them another day. Just when I gave up I found some cups with a vaguely familiar design and I just had to buy those cups. They were the cheapest I had found – five for 12,000 wan, or about 12 bucks. The most expensive I found were $100 a cup which would have amounted to way more than I had paid for the pot! When I got them home and unpacked them, my 12 buck purchase matched perfectly. In fact, the design on the cups is the same as the lotus flower my turtle is sitting upon. This is a silly little story, but I had a vision of what I wanted for cups and I had to be a patient treasure hunter but my patience paid off royally!

The turtle is a patient creature; it’s patience and ability to find peace in the moment has brought the Tortoise a great gift… the gift of a very long, rich and fruitful life. The Tortoise is happy wherever it finds itself, day by day enjoying another facet of it’s discoveries. Moreover, the tortoise makes his home wherever he decides to stop and rest. I am very much like the tortoise these days as I am learning to make make my home wherever I happen to be currently living and laying down my head to rest each night. Tortoise is content and at peace on his journeys. Tortoise symbolism also teaches this: “do not follow the illusions of the oasis that appears instantly before your eyes ~ this is a mirage. Instead, know that patience is the map to experience the outcome of visions and desires. Each of us has abundant treasure that awaits us, but few have the patience to find it”. I pray that I am more and more like the tortoise each and every day!

Did you notice that my tortoise or turtle has the head of a dragon, just like one of the 9 sons of the dragon king? Dragon turtles have a dragon head and a turtle body. The dragon turtle symbolizes longevity, determination, harmony, career success and courage. Rather than being evil as in the West, dragons in Korean folk lore are auspicious, magical creatures with unsurpassed power and vitality. Also, dragons can have yin or yang energy. Yin energy is female and passive energy; a winged dragon symbolizes yin energy.

Notice that my dragon has wings and therefore is a yin dragon. “As with all things yin and yang, the yin dragon’s energy is quite the opposite to that of the yang dragon. Heavily influenced by the planet Venus, the winged yin dragon emits a negative energy charge. This darker, mental type of energy is primarily female in nature. While the yang dragon charges ahead in a frenzy of activity, the energy of the yin dragon is more thoughtful and introspective. It may not present the flash of energy associated with yang, but yin energy is known for its powers of endurance” (retrieved from here).

My teapot is a turtle sitting on a lotus flower and she possesses the head of a winged dragon. She primarily represents yin energy which is appropriate for a tea pot. I sometimes have fierce yang energy, so a lovely spot of tea from a yin pot just might be the appropriate balancing antidote for me! I also love that she sits on an open lotus flower, one that is open to the world around her.

So, won’t you drop by and have a cup of tea with me and sip from an open lotus flower poured from my dragon tortoise shaped ewer? We can rise from our suffering together and perhaps be enlightened as we share in pleasant conversation. We can be thoughtful and introspective together and take a rest from frenzied activity as we enjoy a nice hot cup of green tea. We can also toast each other’s courage and determination and support each other as we share our challenges and successes in quiet conversation. We will encourage each other in our personal visions and dreams as we work patiently to realize them. And lastly, but certainly not least, hopefully we will also share also share together a hearty laugh or two!

I loved this teapot when I first set my eyes on it, and now after my little bit of research and reading, I love her even more! The symbolism is rich and meaningful to me.

The Two Koreas

The Two Koreas

Peninsular Korea is currently in a Cold War. Is reunification possible? The Korean history we were introduced to began in the first century. The unique language and all the music, dance and cultural artifacts and art we have witnessed belongs to all Koreans. Division of the Korean Penninsula did not occur until 1948 when the South Korean government was established in August and the North Korean government established in September of the same year –  post WW2 and the Japanese Colonial period in Korea.

The two Koreas went to war when the first leaders of each of the countries wanted to unite Korea under one leader. A cease fire was declared in 1953 after a bloody three year war; the war has never been ended and they have been living in this “cease fire” state ever since. We watched the movie, JSA, Joint Security Area) which depicts a fictitious story of men from North and South Korea who secretly become friends at the extremely sensitive 38th parallel where the division of the two Korea’s was demarcated back in 1945. It is worth watching to consider the human element of the division of Korea into two Korea’s.

We also heard from a North Korean defector regarding his escape from North Korea and his new life here in South Korea. Life under dictator Kim is tightly controlled, though Korean dramas seem to be easily smuggled into the country. When we watched the film “On the Border”, it became abundantly clear that defectors often have to escape separately from family members and the hope of reuniting with family members may never be realized. One Korean I spoke to describes North Korea as living in hell. You can understand the desire to escape and also feel the anguish of separation from loved ones.

On our field trip today we visited an infiltration tunnel that was discovered in 1975. It’s size and length suggest that 2,000 soldiers per hour would have been able to cross from North to South Korea. Five of them in total have been discovered. Today, tourists can visit some of them as well as the JSA in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). The name belies the truth that this buffer zone on either side of the MDL ( Militry Demarcation Line) is heavily guarded by a million North Korean and another million South Korean’s on either side of the MDL. Within this no-man’s land, completely uninhabitable by humans, is an involuntary park, teeming with life and rare and endangered species. Eleven of the 15 species of cranes in the world reportedly spend time in this park including the White Crane and the Red-Crowned Crane.

Here is a short video I created from a couple of video clips taken when we visited Infiltration Tunnel Number 2.

Hanbok, Traditional Music and Dance

Hanbok, Traditional Music and Dance

The traditional bride in Korea wears a stunning outfit.  I will show you several pictures of the detailed dressing process and the finished product.  I will treat you to some of the beautiful music I recorded once I upload my videos and you can also see us struggle to learn the dance moves of one traditional Korean dance.  We had a lot of fun these past few days experiencing these fun activities.

Check out some clips of traditional music on this video.  Here is traditional Korean Pansori.

Note: Some of the photos in this post are taken by BIP staff (*).

Tourism in Korea

Tourism in Korea

Sunset on the Han river.
Sunset on the Han river.

 

Last night we cruised the Han River. Ten to  20 years ago this river was very polluted but the government put lots of money into rehabilitating it and now fish that were thought to be extinct have returned. For about 8 miles on either side of the river you will find cycling trails, pools, parks, several viewing stadiums and recreational areas.

imageKorea hosts over a million visitors each year.  All around, preparations for the next Olympic’s in Korea seem to be underway. Pyeongchang will host the next winter Olymics in 2018.  In 1988 the Summer Olympics were hosted in Seoul; this was the beginning of South Korea coming out to the rest of the world.  Except for a decline in the early 90’s, South Korea’s economy has done nothing but grow in the last three decades.  From the early 60’s till the early 80’s, within one generation, S Korea went from a receiver of support from the OCD to a contributor.  She is the first country to have ever achieved this accomplishment.

Shopping in Myeong-dong.
Shopping in Myeong-dong.

Seoul has a very cosmopolitan flair.  Both Gangnam and Myeong-dong have fabulous shopping and interesting tastes to try.  Myeong-dong is listed as the ninth most expensive shopping streets in the world and Gangnam hosts the second highest concentration of plastic surgeons in Seoul. Korea also has relatively inexpensive medical services which makes medical tourism a strong draw to Korea.

Tourist information booth.
Tourist information booth.

There are tourist information booths at all of the cultural sites we have visited thus far with informative brochures available. Gyeonju, a city with at least 2000 years of history, is indeed a ” museum without walls”.  When we were there last week, our tour guide was professional, informative and very interesting. To be a guide in Korea, she needed to pass the national exam which contains questions on history, geography, culture and other important information. Any questions I or the others asked were readily answered. Do not miss Seoul tower to experience a fabulous interpretive Center of all the cultural and natural amenities Seoul has to offer.

Map of ancient Han over modern Korea.
Map of ancient Han over modern Korea.

Getting around Seoul, where half the population of SouthKorea lives, is easy.  One can use a downloadable interactive subway map to get around Seoul or onto trains that leave Seoul to other parts of Korea. I have seen hikers get onto the subway late on a Sunday evening, obviously returning home from a day of hiking, which can be reached at the end of many subway line.  Seoul is surrounded by a range of mountains, which in days of old acted as a natural defence to the city along with the wall that surrounded it.  Today, you can camp and hike in the mountains and in the winter take your skis or snowboard up to enjoy the snow and the view.

In one of our history lessons the visiting professor showed us a map of the extensive hiking trail system all along the mountain range that runs from the north end to the south end of Korea with the ability to visit Shaman’s and Buddhist temples along the way. Up in the mountains is where temples are built.  We visited two of the eleven world Unesco Heritage sites in the Republic of Korea. The Korean’s are proud of their rich cultural heritage as well as their current pop culture or K-pop, also known as the the hallyu wave. Even at the traditional folk village, there was one gift shop dedicated to current K-pop artists like Exo along with memorabilia and DVD’s of popular Korean dramas. Cookin’ Nanta was a great example of current fusion which takes the traditional Samul Nori folk music and makes it into fresh current sounds.

 

South of the Han River

South of the Han River

The view from my bedroom.
The view from my bedroom.

This morning I am writing my post up in one of Xi towers at the home of my “home stay family” with Jee Hyan.  Yesterday we shopped in Gangnam. We visited the second largest bookstore in Seoul, shopped around Gangnam station and dined at an Itallian-Japanese  Fusion restaurant.  Last night, after a lovely meal with my host family, we went down to the Han river to watch the fireworks.  It is very easy to get around Seoul; you can get anywhere in an hour it seems.  Han Joon, Jee Hyun’s brother, just finished vet school is now serving his three years in military service.  Her father, Jinwoo, was just promoted to Director of the hospital and is a gracious host along with his wife, Moon He.  Their apartment is lovely and comfortable.  I am enjoying their warm and gracious hospitality. Their Yorkie, Pepper, is fun to play with!

Religion in Korea

Religion in Korea

Yesterday, we studied the major religions of Korea. The most prevalent religion in Korea today is Christianity with 35 percent claiming it as their religion. Usually in developed, industrialized countries participation in religion declines. Not so in Korea. The number claiming to have no religion has dropped by approximately 10 percent with a 9 percent lift in those claiming Christianity as their religion and a lift of 3 percent claiming Buddhism as their religion over the last 30 years. The other religions which currently have less than 1 percent of the population claiming to practice are Shamanism and Confucian.

Prevalent sight in Korea.
Prevalent sight in Korea.

As I learned about these religions previously practiced in Korea, particularly Shamanism and Confucianism I wondered if beliefs held in these religions laid the groundwork for Christianity being accepted and practiced here. The first Christian denomination to grow in Korea was Catholicism. This denomination of Christianity contains more ritual than most other Christian denominations. Koreans were familiar with ritual due to the practice of Confucianism, which is largely a system of ethical relationships and responsibilities.

Although not practiced, or at least openly practiced, you will also still see vestiges of shamanism in Korea. Shamans communicate with spirits to resolve problems among the living. Also, according to one lecturer, shamans still exist in Korea, though the practice of shamanism was illegal for a period of time. It is now legalized but still not widely accepted. Currently, shamans sometimes operate in temples up in the mountains with a Buddhist temple front. According to one film we watched, there are also public spaces Shamans can rent to perform rituals for their clients. Shamans are over taken or possessed by “ancestral” spirits when they perform their rituals and sometimes this involves animal sacrifices.

Buddhism is, according to the statistics presented to us, is the second largest religion in Korea (20 percent) but very few of the adherents of this religion would consider it very important to them. One of the key words or concepts in Buddhism is suffering. Those practicing Buddhism are encouraged to explore suffering, attractions, aversions of self and ultimately try to demolish self in the path of seeking enlightenment. Ethical conduct, mindfulness and self restraint aid one along this path. Followers of Buddha try to develop compassion, self restraint and gentleness. Buddhist never really stop studying the “suffering of oneself and that of other people” (http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/buddhism/suffering.htm).

Suffering Christ.
Suffering Christ.

Koreans were also familiar with concepts of suffering and sacrifice through Buddhism and Shamanism. Both of these themes are central to Christianity as well. A central theme of Buddhism is suffering, and within the Catholic tradition, the suffering of Christ is especially focused on in the weeks leading up to Easter. Easter is the celebration of Jesus, the Christ, rising from the dead and ascending back into heaven. Three days prior to this, Jesus had been sacrificed. Koreans were familiar with sacrifice with the ritualistic sacrifice of animals by the shaman, while possessed by the “ancestral” spirits. There is no need for animal sacrifices in Christianity, however, as Jesus, the one who suffered on the cross, was the ultimate sacrifice himself. Christians, however will offer up their lives to God and become a “living sacrifice”, which likely accounts for why most Christians, at least when polled in Korea, would have said that their faith/religion was somewhat to very important to them. A very small percentage of Buddhist said the same thing when polled. Christians might experience suffering as a key aspect of their religion/faith especially in countries where Christianity is illegal, so Christianity and Buddhism both share the concept of suffering in some ways.

There was a familiarity with spirits and the spirit world in Korea due to the centrality of spirits being beckoned to help in the problems of the living through the work of the Shaman on her client’s behalf.

There is also belief in the spirit world in Christianity. There are many spirits including the Holy Spirit, which Jesus called “the comforter”. Jesus said he would send the comforter to his disciples once he ascended back to God in the heavenly realm. In shamanism, the shaman is possessed by the spirits. In Christianity, people who want to become “Christian” will invite the Holy Spirit/Jesus/God into their heart and be “possessed” by God as it were. The Holy Spirit living and abiding in the Christian is what is promised to provide joy and a “peace that passes understanding” amidst circumstances that normally produce suffering. A Christian receives peace and a place in heaven with God in the afterlife through the act of inviting the spirit of God to dwell in them (asking Jesus into their heart). There is a possession by the holy spirit in Christian believers while in Shamanism just the Shaman becomes possessed by spirits. A Buddhist does not talk about spirits or the spirit world, but rather seeks enlightenment through practices such as mindfulness, self-restraint and gentleness. There is an afterlife in Buddhism, but that comes through reincarnation.

imageChristianity was brought to Korea by a Korean who visited China and came to know Christ through a Catholic priest he met there. This Korean man brought Christianity back to his own country and began sharing the gospel with his country men. Christianity, therefore, was not brought to Korea by missionaries. Today almost 1/3 of all South Koreans claim Christianity as their own imagereligion and the vast majority of them consider their religion to be either very important or somewhat important to them.  Practicing of the faith to which you adhere seems to be an important aspect of people’s lifestyle in Korea today.