And that’s not an exasperated sigh, that’s a tired sigh for a job well done. Because today was a good day. So maybe nothing particularly exceptional happened, and yes, maybe it’s Friday and that feels like an accomplishment in and of itself; but with today came confidence. In the choices I’ve made and what I’m capable of. Blah blah blah, feelings, introspection, perspective, what have you. Shut up Liv.
So with that taken care of, let’s get to the extra boring stuff. I had my first parent-teacher evening last night. It was a special 4pm surprise that my main school sprung on me while I was teaching at my country school. And by country school I mean the ‘further in to the country, practically in the mountains’ school. I love this school. I have 8 students per class. The boys downloaded Minecraft onto my phone so we can do multi-player between classes. These are some exceptional kids with a lot of character. But I diverge. So the parent teacher thing. I had no idea what was happening really, and my main school is three bus rides away, I shit you not. My co-teacher was kind enough to drive me this time. She’s a super cool lady. She’s even lived in New Zealand so we always have a lot to talk about. My high school CT has been to NZ as well. I’ve kind of lucked out with my three co-teachers. The other day my main CT said to me; ‘You’ve lost weight.’ We’ve known each other 3 weeks. And you know what? It turns out she’s absolutely right. Oh look, I diverged again.
So I got to the school, had dinner with the staff, attended an assembly where I got on stage and bowed to all the parents, watched a K-pop variety show in which 5 year-olds danced to Psy’s Gentleman and gold-glittered high-heels, and then I made an exit. I was literally just there to bow. The rest of the assembly was gibberish to me so they let me bail. But I still had to wait for a ride from my main co-teacher. So you know what I did? I played on the playground with the kids like a true professional. We had monkey-bar races. I kicked their asses. It was pitch black, and by the time I got home, I realised that I was absolutely filthy. The other teachers thought I was crazy but seemed pretty amused by it all. In fact, it’s quite clear that I amuse them most of the time.
Today was high school. And I nailed it. It’s very rare to have a day where you don’t flail at some(many) points, but today was one of those. I decided to teach the kids some seemingly boring vocab such as industry, population, political system, democracy, monarchy, dictatorship, natural and man-made wonders, symbolic animal, yada yada yada. Have I told you that I can teach them whatever I want? There’s no curriculum, just my own whim. Dangerous. So I had them get into groups and create their own country. Whatever they wanted. They just had to demonstrate their understanding of the vocabulary. And it was HILARIOUS. I had a country called Fuck. Spaceship. Honey Bread. Spaghetti. Fucking Space Kingdom. Of course I had to get Fuck and Fucking Space Kingdom to start again, but I had to do so whilst containing my own laughter. I am a PROFUSHUNUL. All the boys groups wanted to have dictators. All the girls groups wanted a Monarchy. NO-ONE had any interest in democracy. One group’s symbolic animal was a single-celled organism. Another’s natural wonder was a chocolate volcano. For the teacher’s workshop that I teach in the afternoon, I basically just went over the students posters with the other teachers and amused ourselves. The history teacher has decided to give the students a run-down on the history of dictators; I think she was genuinely concerned about their choices.
So I enjoyed today. And the high school kids actually seem to really respect me. I’m the ‘cool’ teacher. I think back to the ‘cool’ teachers from when I was at high school, and I’m just pretty stoked really. Those teachers meant a lot to me. Even now. Especially now. Okay, I’m babbling feelings again, but in summation; YES. OKAY. GOOD. EXCELLENT TALK.
I even had a great bus ride today. My journey home from high school involves half an hour of meandering through rice fields in a rickety old bus. The passengers are mostly bent backed ajummas, carrying huge bags of produce into town, so the bus stops at the occasional farm along the way. Today it was so hot, and I was so exhausted that I just slid a window open and fell asleep with the wind just pummelling my hair. But halfway through my bus ride, the bus driver woke me up. I was the only one left on the bus so I was a bit confused. He kept speaking in Korean and gesturing at a seat at the front of the bus. He wanted me to sit there. Did he want me to sit there so we could chat? I really had no clue. So I moved, and he began to drive again. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why he’d wanted me to move, but thinking back to all his hand gestures, I now realise that he wanted me to get out of the sun. I had been falling asleep in the glaring sun, and he wanted me to sit in the shade. I said ‘kamsamnida’ with a smile as I got off at the Okgwa bus depot, and he replied with ‘thank-you’ and bit of a laugh.
A lovely bus driver never fails to brighten my day. No matter what part of the world I’m in.
I head to Mokpo tomorrow. I’m excited. It’s the first time I’ll have seen the ocean in over a month. GOD I miss the sea. I’m disorientated without it. Next week is Cheusok. Korean thanksgiving. It means three days off for me, and only a two day week. So about 30-odd foreign teachers will be headed to Seoul for a few days. City of 10 million. HALP. Most of us don’t even have phones yet. I anticipate a hilarious disaster.
Good thing those are my favourite kind of disasters.
Peace, Love, and sophisticated teddy bear hugs. x