Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vegetable Lentil Soup: The "benefits" of language school

For YK, who enjoys with me all the side benefits of Korean School

Every Saturday, I rouse the kids up early, get them changed and washed up, feed them breakfast, and load them in the car so that I can drive 30 minutes to their Korean school.  It's a lot of work and the whining and general unhappiness that accompanies this trip down is not entirely easy but I carry on and push through and get Children to Korean school without fail, every single Saturday.  This isn't even counting the stress I undergo receiving countless emails regarding homework (three different kids in three different classes just means a lot of emails) and having to actually SUPERVISE and have Children COMPLETE the homework.   A lesser mother might quit taking their kids, given the sheer resistance that Children put up, but I can't give up Korean school and it's not for the reasons that you think.

Of course there are tremendous benefits to Children in learning a foreign language and the mother tongue that both Husband and I speak.  We want Children to be able to read and write in Korean and be able to communicate with Grandparents easily in Korean.  We wish and hope for them to be bilingual and comfortable speaking more than one language.  That's a compelling reason to send Children to Korean school, but on many days, like today, it's not the driving force behind why I get behind the wheel and grit my teeth against the complaints and get Children to Korean school.

On a day, like today, the reason I could bear all the noise on the way to Korean school is because I knew that once they were in Korean school, I would have time.  FOR ME.  And while time for me can look like a variety of things like time in front of the computer, or time blogging, or time organizing the house and cooking, time for me on Korean school days is different;  I'm far enough away from home that going back doesn't make sense, which means that for almost three hours I HAVE to find something to do.  Something that I want to do.  Something for me.

Sometimes best friend YK (whose child also receives the tremendous benefits of Korean school) and I get a pedicure.  Sometimes we grab brunch.  Sometimes we get errands done, but today was not about any of those things.  Today was about time for us.  We went to a cafe, got a coffee, cozied down on a table; she on her laptop, I with my book and we settled in for two and a half hours of uninterrupted quiet time.  I did not answer the phone; I did not look at the computer. I actually had time to sit and read straight through a novel I'm planning on teaching my students next.  I took notes, had time to reflect, and I got to enjoy sitting outside in the sun with best friend and not having to talk or do anything except just be.

Now, I'll never let Children know that I send them to Korean school so that I can benefit, but I assure you, if you don't have your kids in some sort of Saturday language program, they (ahem - YOU) are really missing out.

After Korean school today, after Children's torture and my mini-vacation, I came home and fed Children this soup, steaming and perfectly in line with fall.  With crusty pieces of bread, or a warm sandwich, it signaled the end of both their schooling and my respite.

Vegetable Lentil Soup
Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups diced onions
3 cups diced carrots
3 cups diced celery
½ cup white wine (optional)
14 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock
⅔ cup dried lentils (I used red split lentils from Trader Joes)
1 cup chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese for sprinkling as garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium high heat.  Add onions, carrots, and celery all at once.  Add a good pinch of salt and pepper to season the vegetables.  Saute until onions are translucent and carrots and celery are beginning to become tender, about 6 minutes.  Add wine and cook for an additional minute until wine has evaporated.  Add tomatoes, chicken stock and lentils all at once.  Bring to a simmer and reduce heat, cooking until lentils are tender.  The tenderness of the lentils WILL depend on the type of lentils you use.  Split lentils cook the fastest, and will be tender in about 20 minutes.  Whole lentils will take much longer to become tender, closer to 40 minutes.

Printable recipe

And with a bite of this, I'm thinking about next week's class.


Sandy said...

I love this post as I am contemplating putting one of my kids in Korean school. (But she's actually asking for it.)

Joyful Learner said...

I was considering sending our daughter to Korean school. Has your children learn a lot of Korean? Love your recipes and blog!

Joanne Choi said...

As with all things, how much a child gets out of an experience really depends on the child and the parent. I sent the kids last year and was lax about homework and sort of didn't pay much attention to what was going on. This year I'm far more involved, on top of the homework and have an attitude that they HAVE to learn what is going on, no choice. They have taken that attitude and are trying harder.

I keep trying harder because I love my breaks!

Hannah C. said...

We're looking for a Korean school in the San Jose area for my 3 kids...can you share the name or website of your kids' school? Also, how many hours of homework is there per week? thanks for sharing all your recipes, I'm going to make this yummy looking soup soon!

Joanne Choi said...

Hi Hannah -

The largest Korean school in the United States is actually Silicon Valley Korean School in Cupertino. It's run by a board, has an acting principal and lots of great interactive activities to get kids involved. I know a few people who have attended there. It's very big and a bit out of the way for me.

I go to the Korean school at Cornerstone Church in Palo Alto, which is my home church.

Here is a link for Northern California Korean Schools.

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