May 15th is Teacher’s Day in South Korea. On this special day, students give their teachers carnations or thank-you letters. Some prefer to give cosmetics or chocolates.
My Korean students usually write me letters or give candies and chocolates on Teacher’s Day.
It never ceased to amaze me how abruptly summer vacation came to an end as a kid. The magical, care-free days of summer seemed to cease overnight, without the slightest warning of abandonment. It was always a depressing time for me, knowing that there would be no more trips to the beaches of Florida or endless afternoons spent watching Nickelodeon. But, the end of summer did mean one good thing: new school supplies. For the strangest reason, that annual trip to K-Mart for new supplies filled my little heart with such content. Looking back on it, I wonder why I ever felt that way about notebooks and erasers, but I'm glad to now see that I wasn't the only one who gets excited over new pencils.
Yesterday morning I was greeted at random by one of the university security guards, who smiled, bowed, and offered up such a polite peace-be-upon-you that I could barely respond to him. The baby had cried a bit the night before—we’ve both caught the same terrible cold, but as usual my wife’s implacable immune system has left her completely unscathed—and I was still smarting from the wounds leftover from battling random strangers on the internet, so it was not until I found myself conversing with one of my nicer students a few hours later that I realized how foul my mood was.
A few weeks back, Joe had an extra day off from his teaching gig at Sindo Elementary. Instead of sleeping in while I schlepped to work, mentally preparing to face the noise of my kindie kids after a luxuriously peaceful four-day weekend, he came into school with me. I tell him stories about my students frequently, brief vignettes from my day along the lines of: “Albert told me he got three points in Taekwondo class yesterday,” or “You’ve gotta meet Charley. He clung to me all the way down the hall during bathroom break today, dragging his little feet behind me and saying, ‘teachuh, you have-uh foh legs.’”
Please, please x 1,000 DO NOT use online translators. I am better off guessing what you are saying from the English you do know. And you do know more than you give yourself credit for. I know you are told time and time again to be the best that you can be, but don’t let that deter you from realizing how much you’ve learned so far. Don’t fear failure.
This week I organized a lemonade stand for my after school to operate and sell to the other students. Bought some lemonade mix, made some cute posters to hang around the school and they were on their way to being just like any American kid during the summer (except it was raining outside, fucking monsoon season.)
They really are so smart, I gave them everything they needed, they made the lemonade, handled all the money, poured each student a glass and ran around with signs yelling "LEMONADE FOR SALE!" We made 13,000 krw and on Thursday I am going to buy them pizza to celebrate the end of the school year. This is the last week of school and then for four weeks I have summer camps, which is awesome because I only have to work from 9 -12 everyday :) These kids are real dolls and have made my experience in Korea so amazing!!
My students are just so gosh darn cute! I am going to miss them more than anything in Korea, hands down!
4th grader out of class in the first place is an entirely different story.) I never thought it would be me, I figured I would be the 'cool teacher' that everyone liked. While I am cool and fun and most my kids like me (probably just because I have blonde hair though) there are times when I find myself totally frustrated with a student and I lose that cool for a minute, just a minute, until the somber looking kid nods and pays attention again. Yes, I have made a couple students cry, (in my defense it is usually not my fault, they are just way too sensitive and have cried even when I am being nice) but that is rare and I am not a monster, I feel terrible about it afterwards.
Who would have thought, as much of a pain in the ass as I was to my teachers in school, that I would turn into that strict teacher who doesn't put up with your bullshit and kicks you out of class! (The fact that I have to kick a
진짜, 진짜! (I am OBSESSED with that word and it is not okay anymore) A few thoughts about the culture differences here in South Korea that shock me and make me want to just scream, "Are you KIDDING me!?"
Seriously, I don't know what I would do without you Friday. Even my students today remembered when I asked them what day of the week it was, "Ellie teacher, your favorite day!" (I felt a little bad though, since they have school tomorrow...)