Saturday, February 21, 2009


I teach in Who-ville. There are times when I sit at my desk, hold my head, and yell "Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!" I am always immersed in a constant state of hubbub. On delirious days, I watch the kids playing with their whosits or whatsits and swear half are riding unicycles and the other half are eating Who-hash (ok Kimpchi). Honestly, Dr. Suis has trade marked half these kids cheeks...I have one student who I swear is Cindy Lou-Who reincarnated.

I understand chaos is nothing new to an elementary school teacher, however, I contend this common commotion is infused with a strand of absurdity unique to Korea. Allow me to describe my day (I wrote this section a month ago, yes I know this proves how behind I am in blogging).

I teach a paid course during winter and spring vacation. Ordinarily, I teach 22 classes of 30 students once a week. Needless to say, before these paid classes I was unable to get to know individual students, and saw them as a collective foreign mass. On breaks, I see twenty kids and twenty personalities for two hours every day.

Today I am in in the classroom jamming to Big Bang (a Korean boy band equivalent to the Backstreet Boys) and doing last minute lesson plan preparation, when Do Hyeong and Jae Min run into class. "Teacher, Teacher, tomorrow you, me, dead!" "Ah, I thought we covered this... tomorrow we WILL die, today we die, yesterday we died. Anyway, why?" Do Hyeong points to himself, "Me Kim Jong Il" he then mimes machine gunning an imaginary crowd while Jae Min pretends to march behind him.

At this time Ji Hyeon comes in eating one of my favorite Korean pastries. I'm instantly angry, "Ji Hyeon what did I tell you about....". "Teacher, Teacher...I know," she says with a grin, she pulls mine out from behind her back. She had intentionally taunted me.

"Good afternoon Undertaker," I say taking a bite of my delicious gift from Ji Hyeon. My favorite second grader had just walked in. This is an advanced class for 3-6th graders, he fought to be in it and is amazing. He sneaks behind my back and puts Undertaker wrestling videos on the big screan while I'm teaching. Its disruptive but hilarious. He also won't answer to any other name other than Undertaker. Well that is until today. "TEACHER NO MORE UNDERTAKER! STAGE NAME PETER!" I was so taken aback by his outburst I spilled pastry syrup all over my shirt. My pets Na Yeong and Shin Ae quickly run to get me a wet paper towel, while Undertaker/Peter/Sun Ho makes his new magician's stage name "Peter" perfectly clear. There is no convincing him Peter is reserved for pipers and not magicians. I love this kid.

For next couple of minutes I am distracted, fruitlessly, trying to scrub the syrup off my shirt. Eventually, I look up and see Hung Goo shimmying on the outside ledge of the school. I open the window, grap him by the scruff of the neck and pull him into the classroom. Once he is in the room, I give him a small bob on the head for good measure, I mean the fall isn't lethal so I can't help but chuckle.

I begin class and Hung Goo is distraught in his seat. He becomes so clearly upset I take him out of class and call Rahi my co-teacher to console him. After about 20 mins Rahi comes into the classroom looking perplexed. "Have you seen the little boy? I told him to go wipe his face in the bathroom, and I think he climbed out the window because I can't find him anywhere," she says. Class ends and there is still no sign of Hung Goo. Later, I was informed, he was on the ledge because the other boys had taken advantage of Undertaker's outburst and had locked him out of the classroom. He saw his balancing act as a sign of loyalty to my class, as he was clearly trying to enter through the window given the door was no longer an option. My bob on the head showed I was not appreciating his effort/dedication. He had been gone for 40 mins and no one could find him, so I resign myself to waiting by his stuff until he is forced by hunger or darkness to show himself. Unfortunately, I have the bladder the size of a parakeet, I mistakingly run to the bathroom, when I return his stuff is gone. He was obviously well hidden in an area where he could monitor my movements. My list of his possible hiding spots; the rafters, a secrete bookshelf door, or of course the ledge of the building.

All I can say is these kids are amazingly rediculous. When I first arrived I saw teaching as only a vehicle to travel. Now I am becoming deperately attatched.

I hope some people still read this blog. I know I have let you all down in the update department. I will try harder.