On a recent Wednesday, fifth grade students visited Namhansanseong Provincial Park to hike around the fortress wall that protected the ancient capital of Baekje kingdom two thousand years ago. It had been designed with a number of defense features to make it easier to defend from invading armies.
Some of our 5th grade students have contributed some excerpts recounting their experiences of the day.
I walked along the rocky dirt path as I stared at the very long wall, going up, and up, and up. “Wow,” I murmured under my breath, amazed by the colorful mountains decorated by the fall leaves such as red, orange, yellow, brown, and even purple! Suddenly, the line came to a stop and my class and I huddled around my teacher. “Have you noticed all the holes in the walls,” he asked. “Yes,” my class answered. “Do you know what they are for?” “Yeah, they are for the archers and their bows and arrows.” A group of boys answered, “Precisely. If an enemy is approaching, then it will be easier to defend.”
Soon, we were back on track. Talking to friends or teachers, taking pictures, just staring, or maybe even tying your shoelaces. I started to think about bows and arrows and if there were bows and arrows, then the wall might be really old. I walked up a mini hill starting to sweat, but at the same time feeling the cold bite at my lungs. The view was only getting better, but my legs felt like they were going to fall off soon. Up ahead I saw a black, sleek stone sign and although I was very tired, I was eager to read it. So, I ran up to the sign and it said (in Korean, but I will translate it for you), “There are 5 lookout towers. One was here,” at this I felt the excitement bubble in my stomach as I thought, Where is it? I wonder what it looks like, maybe something historical? but I kept reading to find out. “and the others along the way up the mountain have all been destroyed.” I felt like someone had told me that I had 4 hours worth of homework; a wave of disappointment had crashed over my whole body.
Luckily, there was more to see, more to learn, and more to talk about. Although I was annoyed, tired, and a little hungry, I was really really enjoying the field trip. Little did I know that my breath was about to be taken away. Soon enough, I did know. I climbed up the steep steps only to find a small stone shelter, so I decided to go to the highest point. I stared, in shock, awe, and excitement at all my hard work that I did to see this. A million autumn mountains sitting next to each other, each one more colorful than the last. As I stood up there staring, more and more students came to join me at the top of our hard work, staring in shock, awe, and excitement.
As the bus stopped, I had a feeling of wonder in my stomach. Not just that I had never been there, I didn’t exactly know what we were going to see. As I stepped off the bus with my lunch, I felt a cool breeze go by. After eating our snacks, we started the hike. We walked up this tiny road until we saw a few Koreans wearing their Hanbok. Behind them were traditional Korean houses. As we started the hike, we were surrounded by more nature and less and less civilization. After a bit of walking, we finally reached stairs.
As we walked up, our teacher started to tell us how the wall next to the stairs was built for protection during war. After we walked a while, my stomach started to growl. I was hungry ! The teachers told us that in five minutes we would arrive where we were going to eat lunch. Honestly, I knew it was only five minutes but it felt like forever! We started eating lunch when we turned around and saw people throwing trash into the wilderness! We didn’t know how to tell them that that was not right and that there was a trash bin right next to them, but it seemed like they didn’t care. Mina, Joowon and I tried to pick up what they threw away, but we couldn’t reach the trash because it was falling down the hill. After the lunch time was done, then we had some “recess”. After that we saw a tiny tower and we climbed up. WOW! It was the cool breeze again along with a pretty view! I took pictures of the view and we climbed down, the breeze started to fade away. Then we walked for miles and miles! Not literally, but it just felt like it.
Text from Pangyo grade five students Nicolas, Simona and Diane; photos from KIS faculty