Bear Tree Park

I have to say, today was probably one of the all out best days “teaching” — by which I mean time spent with a class — that I’ve had in Korea. We got to work at 10 AM and immediately left for the park. About 40 minutes later, we arrived and unloaded, then walked to some picnic tables. The first thing the kids did was get some nalgene bottles and some fish. It was such a small thing, but a cool little bottle with some fish and plastic plants and fake rocks in it is such a cool thing for a kid. They really liked it.

After that, we had lunch. The cool thing about lunch is that the parents will make the lunches for the teachers, and they’re eager to impress, so they make bomb ass food and they stuff more of it in a lunch box than a person can eat. We ended up just opening everything and spreading it out on the table to enjoy all together. I ate until I was stuffed. It was amazing.

After lunch, we walked around the botanical gardens a bit, which were nice, and we finally found the animals’ area. Someone had told me not to expect much, and Korea for certain doesn’t have nearly the same level of respect for animal life that America does, but it wasn’t that bad. They way they described it made it sound like Auschwitz for bears. Left a little to be desired, but whatevs.

After the bears came the best part for sure. Right next to the bear’s little depressing concrete swimming pool-esque encloser was a huge open field maybe a bit bigger than a football field. My class was the first out there and we just ran amok, then all the other classes followed and pretty soon like 40 kids were just wilin’ out and it was so much fun. I didn’t get any pictures because I was too busy chasing kids and picking them up and rough housing with them. It was awesome.

I was talking with someone today, and this is literally the best part of my job. Even though I know given the opportunity I’d move up and teach at the university level, I recognize that there’s no way I’d have a day more fun than today with university students. The ceiling on the potential for fun with college classes is much lower than it is with kids.

Maybe the best thing about kids is that they can take nothing and make fun out of it. Like, literally, it was nothing but an open field. No playground equipment. Nothing particularly interesting. Hell, most of the grass was still dead. But they saw an open space and were just like “Fuck. Yes.” and it was so fun. It’s hard not getting caught up in that kind of energy. While kids can sometimes be draining and have so much more need for an investment of your time in them, it’s also the most rewarding. I know I’d take a university job just for the freedom, the fewer working hours, the less constant stress, and the vacation time, but I have a hard time not believing that I wouldn’t miss kindergarten at least a little bit.

Anyway, after the field, we slowly trickled our way out. Classes managed to stay together, but all the separate classes got separated, so we just walked around a bit trying to find other people. Ended up meeting up down the path a bit and got back on the buses.

I was tired, but my afternoon classes weren’t as tough as I thought they were going to be. I’m absolutely bushed now though. I didn’t really sleep well last night. Took awhile to fall asleep and then I kept waking up. I don’t think I’ll have that problem tonight. During the time we were going crazy some of the Korean teachers kept their shit together and took a bunch of pictures to give to the parents at the end of the year, so tomorrow I’m going to try and look through them over lunch and see if there are any with me and my students worth posting.

From my Facebook albums (had to start a new one):


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