Sunday, April 28, 2013

Andy and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

I think I could write an entire book at the end of this year just full of stories about the weird and funny things my students say. ESL teaching has got to be the most entertaining job. Probably the most stressful also if you care about being effective, but very entertaining. I try so hard to remember the things that happen. I make notes in my phone and my desk drawer at work is full of post-its with quotes from students or little stories so I can blog or journal about them later. And then I don’t blog or journal and my life has just become a pile of funny post-its. (Maybe not what my boss intended when he gave me all those post-its, but seems like a fine purpose to me).  And most of the stories have something to do with my students making comments about my body. It’s ridiculous how obsessed they are with how I look. I mean, I don’t worry about the extra ten (15…20…eh…) pounds hanging around because they are worried enough for all of us.
“Teacher, face so small but body so big.” “Teacher, why you have 3 necks?”
And I can’t even be offended because the look of shock and concern on their faces (still almost 6 months later). I laugh every time.

I’m gonna tell you this story and it involves me discussing my breasts. I apologize for that, but this needs to be told. In one of my classes I teach this little boy named Andy. Andy is a special individual. I have been teaching Andy the same subject for 5 months and Friday when I walked into the classroom the first thing he said to me was,
“Teacher, this book report or reading?”
I rolled my eyes and said, “Andy, how long have I been your teacher?”
He said, “Uuuhhhh….long time?”
 “A long time Andy. What do I teach you?”
 “Uh, book report?”
“Yes, Andy, book report writing.”
“But Teacher, books same color. It hard.”
“It’s not hard Andy. Read the words.”
Andy doesn’t have the highest English skills in his class (surprise surprise) but he is definitely the most hilarious. And he has this very distinct cackle that might even rival mine. And he has the nerve to tell me I “sound like witch” when I laugh. I’m like, son can you hear yourself? You sound like a deranged hyena. He didn’t know what that was. I said like the crazy hyena named Ed from the Lion King. He knew what that was and he said, “AH! TEACHER!” hahaha
So that’s Andy. Total class clown. Never wanting to stay on topic. Always making fun of somebody. Always making me laugh when I should be disciplining him.
Anyway, so one day in class I just walked over to turn the “air con” on because my class kept saying, “Teacher, hot! Me hot! Air con, please! Hot! Air con!”  Well, if you weren’t running up and down the halls with your 14 layers of clothing on you wouldn’t be so hot right now. Take a couple of jackets off…but no, it has to be air con and then teacher is cold…whatever…no respect. So I’m walking back to the board and I don’t know why he picked today to do this or what was going through this little 10 year old Korean mind but all of sudden I hear Andy’s cackle. I turn around to look at him and he is laughing hard. I mean head thrown back, mouth wide open, eyes closed kind of cackle. Laughing so hard. And now Andy is kind of a husky little Korean. You can tell he eats all of his rice. I said Andy what are you doing??? So then he puts his hands on his little boy boobs and starts to jiggle them. And he is laughing so hard. Just jiggling his little boobs. He’s making fun of me because my breasts move. He’s laughing so hard this point and his face is so red. The rest of class is just wide eye. You can tell they want to laugh but they know that what Andy is doing is wrong so they are just waiting for my response. And I lose it. I mean I just start laughing hysterically. To the point that I can’t stand up and I’m sitting on the floor of my classroom laughing. Andy sees this as a huge victory and pumps his fists in the air. Our school counselor walked by my classroom and saw me on the floor and thought I was crying. She thought I had finally collapsed under the pressure. Needless to say, we didn’t have a productive day…
Oh Andy…

I want to tell you about Sarah too. I wish I had a picture of her but every time I try to take one she runs away and screams teacher no!! She is the most adorable thing. The cutest little round face that I just want to pinch all the time. She’s 11 and a pistol of a little girl. Smart and feisty. We get along. You’re probably wondering why every time I write about students they have English names. They’re just made up. They aren’t their real names. Sometimes my students try to get me to learn their Korean names and I do really go for about ten minutes and then they quiz me the next day and I’ve forgotten them all. With the exception of a few who absolutely refuse to be called by an English name so I’ve been force to remember their real names. Sometimes my students ask my what my Korean name is and I just stare at them…right, because I look so Korean…Well Sarah likes to change her name. Her name right now is Vinny. Because when your name isn’t your real name you can change it. Anytime. Just by saying, hey I changed my name. A few weeks ago when Sarah decided to change her name she was trying out a different name everyday. It was ridiculous. And she would get mad at me when I called her Sarah. Well it just got to the point that I couldn’t remember what her current name was. So I started to call her Sarah Michelle Gellar. She says she hates it but she really loves it. Even now that she has decided on Vinny I can still get away with calling her Sarah Michelle Gellar. When she draws me pictures she always writes from: Sarah Michelle Gellar at the bottom. Also I should tell you that Sarah (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Vinny) wrote a little essay about me in her writing class. And she told me she did this but she wouldn’t let me see it. She would only tell me the things she wrote about. She listed these things out to me:
white skin
nose is up
not kind that much
tall in Korea
big eyes
not slim
earrings many
has 3 necks
everyday nail art
she wants to be model
she make fun to me

I have since stolen her writing workbook from her backpack and read what she wrote about me. It did not include these things. It was very sweet. Except for the part that said she wants to lose her weight…

My students are just weird. Perfect and weird.

Love you guys.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nuclear War and Friendship

First, let’s discuss the every present threats of nuclear bombs…I do appreciate all the many frantic messages I’ve received in the recent days asking about my safety and urging me to come home. It’s also really nice to know a lot of you have strategic plans of how to rescue me from the country if it comes down to that. But honestly I have a strong sense of peace about all of this. Now I may be crazy, but I think we’re all going to be okay. At least for a little while longer. Seoul keeps trucking along everyday like nothing is out of the ordinary, because well, nothing is out of the ordinary. These threats, though a little more intense these days, are as common as seaweed in my meals. If you want to understand a little better South Korea’s view to these threats read this article.

Keep praying and keep mapping out those escape routes for me. And if something does go down, well here’s to hoping heaven has internet…but enough of all this nuclear bomb mess.

            I think if I chose Seoul as just a place to pass through I would be thoroughly unimpressed. There are so many things about this city that get on my freaking nerves. But since this place has been my home for 5 months now I’m starting to feel a little connection. It’s the little things that I get to experience that I wouldn’t have if I was just a visitor. Like my little man at the 7 eleven my by apartment building that gives me free coffee. We can’t have a conversation but we can smile and wave. Or like the other night when Texas (I’ll get to her, Ohio, and Tab in a moment) and I were waiting for our Chinese take out and this little boy kept staring at us. He was obviously young enough to not be in school so his exposure to foreigners is probably minimal. He would walk really close to us and stare for a few seconds with wide eyes then run away to his table. This process repeated several times. Texas had fortunately just purchased a pack of stickers for her students so she pulled them out and told me to go give him one. I motioned with my hand for him to come over and he reluctantly walked toward us, leaving several feet between us. You know, white girls are scary. So I held up the stickers and motioned for him to pick one. The biggest smile spread across his face and he ran to tell his parents about how the foreign girls gave him a sticker. It’s moments like this that make me love this time in my life. Some days I have no idea why I’m here and some days I know exactly why I’m here.

            Now, let me tell you about Texas, Ohio and Tab, or as we like to all ourselves, The Seoul Sisterhood. We even have a magic pair of pants. Cheryl, Katharine and I work together. We all affectionately refer to each other as the state we are from. Tab is Cheryl’s friend from high school. She’s been living and teaching in Seoul since August. And our personalities could not be more different. I spend the majority of our time together being embarrassed by the things Tab is saying to our cab driver, being confused by the words Ohio is using or wondering how it’s possible that Texas is the sorority girl version of my mother. But we laugh so much when we’re together and even though I feel like I always have to be in mother mode, I’m so happy we’ve all be put here together and I’m not really sure why God waited so long to do it. I’m sure I’ll have some sisterhood adventures to update you guys on soon. 

Much love to all of you. I miss my home everyday. There's no other place it.