Come Again In English?

Welcome back. I have so much to tell you. By the way, I’m glad you got to see our apartment the other day. But it’s just a small part of our new life, which is only expanding daily, unlike our Korean vocabulary. We haven’t even experienced a normal week yet, as we’ve had our initiation phase at the hagwan (the after-school school that we teach at) keep us pretty busy this week. Besides being half-willing subjects to a new culture of strict discipline and self-restraint, we are the freshest additions to what we’ve quickly learned is a quite ambitious institution with serious expectations of all committed to the cause, even by Korean standards. Now that we’ve completed the orientation, we are teachers. Yikes.

Friday was actually our first day teaching—which came as a surprise—but still, we think we did pretty well for ourselves. We have six classes a day, and we have a lot of curriculum to cover. The challenge is quite substantial, but we are smitten with the kiddos so that really doesn’t even matter. They are super cute—and sometimes bratty— but always incredibly smart.

Classes run by wayguks (foreigners) are loud for the most part, and the best way to connect with the little ones (who don’t understand you at all) is to get them excitedly shouting a group of vocabulary words at you as you write them on the board. I got plenty of chances to watch our co-teachers creatively channel this energy that otherwise has them standing on their desks, shouting Korean at each other, or answering phones in class.

I can’t blame the little buggers though. In many cases, we are the closest thing to free time they are going to get. One of our seven year olds gets up at six thirty each morning, goes to public school, attends three different hagwans until eleven at night, then goes to bed at one thirty in the morning. I’ve asked the more advanced ones what they like to do for fun, and sometimes I get a blank stare. “I like computer homework,” they say, thinking hard, til a relieved outburst. “Oh, teacher! I like play ‘Go fish’.”

Wow. Can somebody please give that kid a week at Disney World? And away from American kids his age, so they don’t call him lame and make him cry.
Even if the kids are behind on their entertainment though, they sure love to laugh. Mostly at us. They are all about “Josh-teacher” and his hair. They reach out for his beard, and pet his arm and say “Many fur!” But the favorite is his curls. “It like grandma,” they laugh. As for me, it’s a daily event to see what kind of earrings I am wearing. The bigger, the more wow’s and oh’s I get. My freckles are another ally of mine to keep up with the wonders of Josh-teacher; I have “many spot”, which is perfect for a game of connect-the-dots when we’re all squished together in the hallway between classes. Finally, we hold the key to the wonders of American pop culture and what is otherwise known as Justin Beiber. I might have had a desk nearly topple onto the floor in one of my classes, but there wasn’t a sound or movement when another one watched “One Less Lonely Girl” as a reward for a job well done.

I guess we might not speak the language, but we may be sending them a message that they deeply need. Justin Beiber is awesome.

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One Comment on “Come Again In English?”

  1. Wanda Kelsey October 20, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    Hi guys! Based on that video…I am quite sure I would starve in Korea! Is there a McDonald’s nearby?? LOL I know once when we were in Europe and I craved something American we went to a local “McDonald’s”…oh my!!

    Sherm and I are ripping out the back door and throwing out the carpet in the family room. Good test of how strong a marriage is! LOL If you don’t hear from me you will know I didn’t survive this latest home improvement project!!

    Love you and love the news!
    Take care.

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