Had Better Days

To start off, I’ll post some pictures I stole from Ruth’s Facebook from the 4th of July party.

A pic from the patio we were on. It was on the 15th story, and that wasn’t even the top of the building. Still felt pretty awesome having the whole city to look out at.

A shot of the main strip in downtown Yawoori. It’s the hip place to be for shopping or drinking the night away.

Here I am with Q (Won Jae) on the left and Andrew (Weon Ho). You can see my new glasses, as well as the gay ass, shit eating grin I for no understandable reason have.

I just fired up the grill here. They have awesome coals here in Korea. If you’ve ever smoked hookah, you know how easy the coals are to light because they’re self lighters. They’ve got the same here in Korea, except they’re the size of volleyballs and burn for hours.  Anyway, I was also trying to explain that the marshmallows shouldn’t be placed directly on the grill, but they’d already started to melt. Some people got hotdogs with marshmallow goo on them.

Joel demonstrating the deliciousness of S’mores to the Koreans.

Ruth’s got the sparkler going on in the foreground, and in the background, Joel has just suggested I try lighting the cup on fire with my sparkler, so I was checking to see if anything was in it. Turns out, you actually can light a paper cup on fire with a sparkler.

A group shot of nearly everyone towards the end of the night.

Anyway, today couldn’t have been much worse, and it’s not looking up for the rest of the night. I found out that one of my co-worker’s mother-in-law just died. Tonight I’m going to a funeral, or at least going to meet the family. I’m told it’s the normal Korean custom to visit a co-worker’s family if there’s been a death. Still, I’m going to feel so awkward there. I’m not looking forward to it one bit.

The morning was pretty normal. Just went to work on workbooks etc… and killed time until my first class. Amy and I have finally switched to teaching each class for an hour and then switching classes every day, like Diane and I have been doing for a couple weeks now. Today I was with the class that is full of boys that just don’t care to learn at all. This week I got fed up with some of them and began simply throwing them out of class.

Someone had suggested it awhile ago, but I was reluctant to do that with them because I felt like it wouldn’t seem like a punishment. They’d get out of class and run around. I finally got to the point where I didn’t care, because it’s affecting my ability to teach the other kids and they were being a complete distraction. Still, it works pretty well. The kids seemed super offended that I was kicking them out. And once they were out, the class settled down. The only problem is I can’t put two out at once, or they’d just goof off, so I have to resort to making kids hold books up.

Today I made some kid hold up books over his head until he cried. You know, I really don’t enjoy being this strict. I’ve tried positive reinforcement, and I’ve tried telling them over and over not to do things. I’ve heard their parents have been called and their behavior never changes. Yet parents are constantly complaining about my punishments. It’s the same three students every day, and no matter what I do it never seems to stick. I finally told Mr. Lee today they he should honestly call their parents and tell them to pull their kids out of the program because they’re constant distractions that keep the other kids from learning.

After that I was just not in any kind of mood to be teaching. I was most obviously in a bad mood and the kids could tell. I was super strict with the rest of the classes all day. I couldn’t get out of school fast enough. Luckily, it’s my short day today.

Anyway, there were some cool things today. I’ve got all the kids birthdays written down, and I’ve decided to give them some chocolate bars on their birthday. Today two of my favorite kids both had birthdays, so I enjoyed giving them something. Also, sitting in this DnD, some random kid came up to me and asked me what my name is. Turns out he’s a first grader at Buldang, and he spoke pretty awesome English. Then he gave me one of his little munchkin donuts.

Also, yesterday was pretty chill. Because of Amy’s absence due to the death in the family, I had to substitute teach for her two advanced classes. The first class only had five kids (including one of my favorite students I lost to the class — Sunny). The second class had just six kids, five of which were either former students of mine (including another Sunny I really liked, despite the fact that she doesn’t have any business in an advanced class, but she tries ever so hard and really wants to learn, and Jenny — Ariana’s older sister) or were still in my classes (two sisters — Alice and Sue — that are smart but seem almost completely unenthused about being in my class). They first class in particular was good. Sunny from Michigan and Yuri from New Jersey were fun to just hang out with.

I only did two pages of work with that class. The rest of the time I spent just bullshitting with the kids. It’s really cool being able to use idiomatic English with the kids, since they’d been in America for a couple years. One of the sentences we read had the word “dinosaurs” in it, so I asked the kid if they knew dinosaurs. They did, and I mentioned as a kid that I’d wanted to be an archaeologist, so I could dig up dinosaur bones. Later, I asked what the kids wanted to be when they grew up. It was a class of all girls, and most of them wanted to be teachers, but one said zookeeper.

Masha: I want to work at the zoo and…
Me: Oh, a zookeeper? I wanted to be one too. In university I studied zoology. That’s the study of animals.
Yuri: So, first you wanted to be a dinosaur digger and then you wanted to be a zookeeper and then and then and then and then a teacher. You changed your mind so much.
Me: So you’ve only wanted to be a teacher and only ever will?
Yuri: Yes.
Me: Oh, you’ll change your mind some day.


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