Follow Your Heart

As promised, I’ve got a slew of pictures to post, so I’ll get started with a handful or two. First and foremost, Navy class:

Starting with the boy in the blue polo: Steve, Yong Jin, Tony, Mike (hidden), Kevin, Sue, Alice, Crystal, can’t tell, Diana, Jennifer, Victoria, and Diane. Not pictured: Jong Rok. For some reason this class just didn’t want their picture taken. As you can see, half of the girls are hiding or not paying attention. The first time I counted to three, all of the boys ducked down. I had to outsmart them the second time and take it on two. That’s why I’m a teacher. I’m smarter than a group of third through fifth graders.

This is a traditional Korean string instrument called a gayageum, and it is played pretty much solely by females. Boys would never learn how to play it. The girl playing it isn’t one I know, but talking to Dave about his advanced classes, I guessed that she’s a girl named Yu Ri. I talked to her a little about her instrument, and she spoke remarkable English, but also kind of had an attitude. Surprise, surprise, Yu Ri spent several years living in Jersey. That explains the English and the attitude. The girl sitting next to her is Lavender, who somehow managed to escape a class photo and refused to look at the camera for this one. Rest assured, she’s a cutie.

This recreations of famous paintings were constructed by two different fifth grade classes. They’re made entirely out of small pieces of scrap paper. I’m assuming each student was given a sector of a grid to work on and they were put together. Pretty goddamn impressive if you ask me.

The ever bright and energetic Moses Jo.

This is Wendy. She’s a good buddy of mine. Almost every morning she bursts into my office to ask me any number of random questions.

And now for the Haesong Seashore Camp!

This is the mighty Seagull 1 team. In the very front is the Team Leader, Tony, a 6th grader at Haesong Elementary. He was a funny kid with really good English. This was our conversation after we got off the hour and a half bus ride to Jebu-do.

Me: Did you have a fun bus ride?
Him: No.
Me: Why not?
Him: I just slept.
Me:  Tired? What time did you get up this morning?
Him: No.
Me: No what?
Him: I didn’t go to sleep last night.
Me: Why not?
Him: I’m a robot. Robots don’t need sleep.
Me: But you slept on the bus.
Him: No, I was just charging.
Me: Oh? Where’s your plug?
Him: I don’t have one. I’m wireless.

Yun Sung, a first grader in my group. Didn’t speak much English.

This adorable little girl’s name is Yun Seo. She was a great little girl.

Julia left, Sofia right. They were both pretty cool.

Hunter left, Seung Mu right. Neither spoke much English but they were pretty fun.

Selina left, Ashley right. They’re only third graders, but they spoke impeccable English. They told me that for two years they went to a school in Korea that only used English. They didn’t say why, though. I don’t think either of them have foreign parents. I think perhaps the parents just really wanted them to learn English.

One of the teachers who worked at the school explained that the school is only for people living in the really rich neighborhood nearby. Haesong is in a part of Incheon called Songdo. Songdo is actually an area of newly constructed buildings built on reclaimed land that used to lie under the sea. It’s meant to eventually be a center for international business, international trade, knowledge-based technologies, and eco-friendly urban living. All those adjectives in a row should let you know that to live there you have to be rich as fuck. Actually, Songdo won’t be finished until 2020, but there are already obviously parts with schools, hospitals, apartment blocks, businesses, etc…

Anyway, I guess parents this rich are always pushing their kids really hard, so they’re almost all really good students. She did say that sometimes it’s stressful because the parents expect a lot from teachers, too. Still, I don’t think I’d mind giving an extra ten percent if I had nothing but those kind of students.

I mentioned that I’ve recently started using push-ups as punishment for kids. Last week, one of my co-teachers asked me how I’d been punishing kids, because she got some parents calling her and complaining. She said doing the push-ups is too old fashioned and that I should just have kids stand in the corner with their hands up or something, and if kids are really bad just have her call their parents. The problem is having them stand does literally nothing, because it gives them another opportunity to just goof around when I’m not looking.

I have had Mr. Lee, the principal, and other teachers call parents for me, but I’ve seen no significant change in the way those kids are behaving. I can only assume that the parents aren’t disciplining them , or that the discipline isn’t having anywhere near the desired effect. Push-ups, however, do. I’ve had to make a couple kids do them more than once, and now I just have to say “You want to do push-ups?” and they really settle down. So, I’m going to keep going with what’s working.

Anyway, I’ve got a ton more pictures, but I’ll save them for later posts. Stay tuned.

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One Response to “Follow Your Heart”

  1. 유리야, 아자 아자! 화이팅! You go, girl! New Jersey rocks! Positively New Jersey!

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