Sunday, December 10, 2006

Naming Kids

I really wanted to start this letter off by telling everyone how cold it is here in Korea, how the half-mile walk to work chills me as the wind gusts bite through the little gaps and creases in clothing that inevitably are always there but I have followed the weather in America and I am not sure that I have it any worse here then anybody else. Well, we also have had one big snowstorm here but by the next day a lot of it had melted off so for the most part, it has just been cold.

So, these days I bundle up in heavy coat, scarf and hat and make the walk to work everyday and when I am done, I do it again. Work itself has been getting easier and easier for me. I am getting better at teaching out of the certain textbooks I use and I think the kids are all getting more use to me too. More and more the bad kids aren’t so bad but at the same time the best students are no longer acting perfect. That is okay though, I actually prefer a little bit of excitement and chaos in the class (but not too much).

I have some fun parts of my job that I like and that keep me going. There are all kinds of things I could talk about but one thing that stands out in my mind is that on my first day of work my boss told me, “You are handsome so I think the kids will like you.” Haha, I laughed but the other week I took over a new class and every day one of the middle school boys tells me, “Teacher, you handssooommmme.” Funny.

Anyway, that class is going okay for me. The other teacher that taught it before had some problems with the class. I think the teacher might have said some things about Korea that was not exactly flattering. This in mind, on my first day of teaching that class, I went in and started talking about soccer (Everyone knows I don’t really care about it but as I guy, I can fake it). The conversation sooner or later moved to Korean soccer where I said that I really like the Korean team and that the other teams that beat the Korean team “really suck”. At this all my students exclaim loudly, “Yes!” and some even jumped out of their chair. I still am not sure why this hit such a nerve but by the end of class, they were all telling me how much better of a teacher I was than the other teacher. Kind of Funny.

Something else I really like about my job is naming the kids. Part of the job of an American teacher is to give the new students that only have a Korean name, an American name. As a teacher, I feel like I am helping to shape the lives of young minds but when I actually name somebody, it really hits home how much I am shaping them. Oh, I know that they only use their English names in my class but who knows? Maybe one or two of my students will go abroad someday and when they go to America or England, they very well might use the name they have had all that time, the name I gave them. Really funny.

But not just the naming is fun, it is what I name them. One of my first classes on my first day was a whole class of kids. I was told while walking to that class that I had to name them. Well, I didn’t know what to do off the top of my head so I named them after the Alphabet. Adam, Betty, Christy….. But that was only after being away from America for a couple days. Now, I get more home sick so I name my kids after all my family members. I hope to name a kid after everyone in my family before it is all over! Hilarious.

Staying up late and sticking it out with love and light,

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Kids and Cops

Everyday starts out the same way. I go to work and then I sit at my desk, maybe go over a couple of my lessons for the day, maybe grade some work, but usually just sit there and talk. A few minutes later the kids come in getting ready for class and I now know it is about time for class to start and about time for my starting work ritual.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday my first class is the 1st graders. Young kids, maybe seven years old and I presume like all kids around the world that age, they like to play hide and go seek. So I go into class and the kids are all hiding. Now, I mind you there are not a lot of places to hide in the classroom that is about 8 feet by 8 feet but these kids have figured them all out. There is the staple hiding place of “under the desk” in the second row (also the back row), preferably in a corner (the only other option is the isle and that is way to easy). Then there is the “behind the door” trick, which of course is always good. And lastly, my favorite is the “under the teacher’s desk” which I can always count on a sneaky 7 year old to pull. Surprisingly enough though, day after day, week after week, month after month, these kids play this game with me. They hide, I find them and tickle the hell out of them (think of the “claw” to the stomach) and then we start class. I wonder everyday, “When are these kids going to get tired of this game?” but they never do.

So this day started out like the rest but something different happened. During the day three oddly suspicious policeman dressed in suits came by my school. One spoke in perfect English, “May I see your alien registration card please (green card).” I start looking through my wallet and look up with a halfway anxious look on my face and ask, “What are you going to do to me if I don’t have it? Take me to jail?” No answer. I look through my wallet again, “Seriously, what if I don’t have one? What happens?” No answer. I look through my wallet some more bite my lip and make a nervous click off of the room of my mouth and say, “I am not sure if I have one.” One of my coworkers freaks out and starts going off about how you are always suppose to carry one with you so I just smile a little bit and say, “I am just joking, here it is.” as a whip it out of my wallet where it was all along. Just having a little fun, that’s all.

One of my friends comes over that night though and tells me that three oddly suspicious policeman dressed in suits came by his school that day but that two of our friends (they also live in the same building as me) didn’t have their registration cards. One of the girls let hers expire, the other never got hers but had been here the whole time on a tourist visa. Well, they were pulled out of class and taken to jail right then. No kidding, I couldn’t believe it. Next, someone who couldn’t speak English very well told them that they were being “banished” from Korea. End result was after a day in the slammer they were bailed out. The girl who didn’t have hers in the first place went back to America the next day and the girl who let hers expire was allowed to stay and renew her ID.

Well, that is the way it goes I guess. Just an interesting little experience that I thought I would share. Hope everyone is well. As for me, I got a humidifier and some sleep and am feeling better these days.