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Monday, October 14, 2019

Noah Gracey on Joining CISV Cincinnati

Noah Gracey and Patrick Davidson at Korean Barbeque restaurant during 1st homestay
By Noah Gracey

Hi, My Name is Noah Gracey and I’m a 6th grader at Highlands Middle School.  I’m going to tell you about a typical day in my CISV camp in Seoul, South Korea this past summer.  A CISV camp is a camp where kids my age from all around the world are there and is usually held in a different country than your own.  It was a once in a lifetime experience and I hope you will think about doing it.

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On a typical day we would wake up at 7:30a.m.  We have flag time at 7:45am and say good morning in every language.  Then we sing the CISV song.  We eat breakfast from 8:00-8:45am.  Our meals always had kimchi, a traditional Korean dish and rice.  At breakfast there were always eggs, meat, juice, milk, seaweed and salad as well as a vegetarian option.  I really liked wrapping seaweed around rice and eating it for part of my meal.  I tried the kimchi but didn’t really like it because it was really spicy!

Friends from camp
After breakfast we would all bang on the tables to the song “Everybody Dance Now” and then we would do Kitos which is a song saying thank you in multiple languages.  Next was cleaning time.  At 9am we had our first activity.  One activity we did was where we all laid down on the ground with our arms up and we had to work together to pass a person down the line.  I think this was an activity about trust and team work. After our first activity we had free time and then lunch.

At 1:00pm we had siesta time which is a quiet time to sleep or go to the JC shop and buy candy.  JC means junior counselor.  We had JC’s from Egypt, Korea, Portugal, Belgium and Brazil.  They were teenagers and their purpose was to help while learning from the adult leaders.

Patrick Davidson, Azar Bassett, Drew Fitzpatric and Noah Gracey at Seoul Tower
After the siesta time we had activity 2 then shower time.  At 6pm we had dinner and at 7pm we had activity 3.  For activity 3 we usually had National Night.  Each country got their own night to have things from their country like food and traditional dances.  For the Netherlands National Night we played a game where we stuck our face in flour to try to get a piece of candy with our mouths.  For our USA National Night we had a sleepover theme.

We had different stations like popcorn, pillow case decorating where all of our friends signed our pillow case, and a photo booth with fun props. After the last activity each day, we did flag down where we said goodnight in all the languages of the countries represented at camp.  Lastly, we would sing songs together and end our day at 10pm.

USA Delegation to CISV Korea Village; Nick Sunderland, Leader; Drew Fitzpatric, Noah Gracey, Azar Bassett and Patrick Davidson
This is a link to a short You Tube video we made at camp showing all the fun we had:

In addition to the typical activities we did at camp, we also had two homestays and two excursions with one being a shopping day.  For our shopping day the whole camp went to COEX Mall.  The mall is the biggest underground shopping mall in all of Asia and is in the basement of the Korean World Trade Center.  It has a 2 story library, an aquarium, a movie theatre, tons of different stores and restaurants. It even had a Kimchi Museum! While I was there, I was surprised that many of the store brands were ones that I’ve seen at Kenwood mall.

CISV Activity Time
We went to a Starbucks, a McDonalds and a candy store!  Some of my friends bought Korean sweatshirts, clothes, and chopsticks. The other excursion was to an amusement park called Everland.  It has the world’s steepest wooden roller coaster called the T-express which has a 77 degree incline and goes almost 65mph!  There was also a virtual reality option for T-express. There was an area at the park called Panda World that had a bunch of interactive activities, but the best part was seeing the two live pandas.

There were other parts of the park as well like a monkey area, Zootopia area with a petting zoo, Lost Valley where your tram goes through a water trail and you see animals, and a super cool shopping area where all the stores buildings are made to look like famous world landmarks.  My favorite was the one that looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

While at CISV village we had two homestays. The first homestay took place as soon as we arrived at Seoul airport.  My friend Patrick, another US delegate, and I were picked up by a Korean CISV family.  This Korean family had lived in San Francisco for four years. The dad had done village as a child. Their daughter was at village in Washington DC and their other daughter had done Step Up camp in Poland.  We went to a Korean buffet, the Seoul tower, an arcade, and Korean baseball game. At the Korean bbq we were able to make our food ourselves.

CISV Friends at Camp
We met up with the homestay where the other two delegates from USA were.  We went to an old Korean Village and we made bow and arrows there.  We went to a street vendor that had this food that was like a very thick pancake with cinnamon inside.  It was really good.  We traveled a lot by bus.  At Seoul Tower they had a really big room that was like a photo booth and you could take all kinds of cool photos.  At the top of the tower we sent a postcard home and had a view of most of Seoul.

During my second homestay I was with my friend Steve who was from the Chinese delegation.  We stayed with a different Korean CISV family.  This family had two kids ages 8 and 5. While there we explored downtown Seoul, went to an old Korean palace and Korean barbecue. At the Korean Barbeque restaurant, the chicken came raw and the dad cooked it for us on the grill that was built into the table.

We had all kinds of dipping sauces and sides that came with it like kimchi, pickled daikon radishes and carrots, a tangy cabbage salad, Korean cucumber salad and spicy Korean coleslaw. That day we rode bikes to a really big park.  When we were playing at the park a really big cicadia flew down my shirt and freaked me out. The bugs there were super-sized.  They were really big!  There was a spider the size of my palm and a cockroach the size of an iphone. It was crazy!

Noah at Starfield Library
That night we went with a cousin of the family who was 13 years old and his friend who spoke Chinese to help translate for my Chinese delegate friend Steve.  We walked around Seoul and had fried chicken at this place that had chicken options from most countries around the world.  There was French chicken, Canadian chicken, Chinese chicken, American chicken, etc..

I got the American chicken which was fried and the Chinese chicken which was tiny pieces of orange flavored chicken with shrimp.  Back at the apartment we watched a Marvel movie and had traditional Korean ice cream which was like a King Cone but it was 13 inches long!

The next day we went to Lotte World. At Lotte World there was a huge indoor amusement park called Adventure that had rides and parades, an outdoor park called Magic Island, an aquarium, water park, Undersea Kingdom place, a jumping place called Seoul Sky that was a Korean version of Skyzone, and an international mall.

CISV Flag Time
It also had the biggest skyscraper I have ever seen! You had to go up 123 levels to get to the top and then you could see all of Seoul. We took an elevator to get to the top that had monitors on the ceiling and each of the three walls so when riding in it you thought you were in a totally different place.  It was like you were in an art show or something.

At Seoul Sky, the first floor was the trampoline area and the 2nd floor was like a parkour obstacle course that we had harnesses for so we could do the rock wall, the climbing net and different balance beams.  When I was there I met an American Army soldier that had been stationed there for 10 years. He was fluent in Korean. It was cool to talk to him.  Lotte World was amazing, and I didn’t want to leave!

With my homestays I learned that most Korean families live in apartments.  The families at both homestays went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and having a good time.  Neither of the adults spoke very much English so I don’t know as much about them but they were really nice. Both homestay apartments were really far from where they picked us up.  Neither had pets because most apartments didn’t let them.

Whole Camp at Everland Amusement Park
In Seoul I noticed there were almost no trash cans but the streets and sidewalks were really clean. My entire trip to South Korea made me realize not only how much I loved it there, but how much I want to go and explore other countries.  I realized the places, people, food and even insects, may look different, but everything was also really the same.

The families acted just like my own.  The kids wanted me to play in the park with them and snuggle on the couch to look at books.  I felt like I fit right in even though we didn’t speak the same language.  I absolutely loved my time at CISV village and am hoping to do a CISV Interchange next summer.  CISV is awesome.

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