Sunday, February 21, 2010

Festival Miracles...and other milestones

NOW it's more like spring in Suji...because Festival is OVER!
I know these look disgusting (as I think most Korean food does...), but they're acutally delicious dumplings called Mandu, with seasome soy sauce to dip them in. After a hard days' work at Festival, we needed to refuel with some Mandu at our favorite Korean restaurant!
Me with Lucy, my head supervisor

Flowers from my students' parents after the performance!

Just before their last big performance of the day, their instrumental Korean piece
This kid wasn't too happy about his costume

This class looked like a bunch of pirates...
My Boys (Alan, Tony, Zackary), preparing for their instrumental piece in front of the audience
This is Samuel from London's class...he was probably the only kindergarten boy who enjoyed being dressed in lime green ruffles and sequins

Seriously- look at these costumes! Some of them just had absolutely nothing to do with the story or speech or song that the students were performing! Ridiculous!
Shauna's class: Hoony and Andrew. Check out their spangled bellbottoms pants and sequined shirts! Jack, from my reading club...part of the pirate (?) class!

Christine's class: shiny, electric-blue tuxedo jackets, sequined bow ties, and top hats. That's normal for a 6 year old...only in Asia
This is Judy, from the 5-year old class. I think she loved her costume!
The 5-year old class, excited to go onstage!
All my little animals, ready to perform!
The tiny backstage room was so crowded, and sabsolutely chaotic!
Alex is ready to be a little frog!
Sara's part was a little old whale...but her costume looked more like a bug!
Zackary, the perfect little lion
Julie, in her fish costume (which actually looked more like a dinosaur, or maybe a lizard?)
Tony in his mouse costume, getting ready backstage!
Irene in her bunny costume- I think I was the proudest of her for Festival. Six months ago, she couldn't even tell you a letter of the alphabet...but she memorized all her lines and delivered them perfectly!
My class onstage, performing our story, "Where Have You Been?"
My class onstage, during the last chords of our song, "I Will"
They were such great performers!
And's OVER!!
On Saturday, LCI Kids Club, Suji School hosted its 8th Annual Festival...and I have to say, that despite the complaining (on the teachers' part) and stress (on everyone's part) for the past few months, it was an absolutely exciting, successful, and unforgettable day. I never could have imagined just how proud of my students I'd feel on this day...I felt like the happiest teacher in the world! Seeing them arrive backstage, ready for the day ahead with the biggest smiles on their faces, bouncing off the walls with excitement...getting them in a line just before going onstage, with each one tugging on my shirt to repeat their lines to me one last time...kneeling in front of the stage, mouthing the words along with them, beaming when each student completed a verse...leading them offstage proudly, feeling so excited to congratulate them and see the look of accomplishment clearly written across their faces...and then seeing their parents afterward, unable to stop smiling and bearing flowers for their children and for me.

I think this was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had...I know that sounds trivial to label a kindergarten song-and-dance performance as "the most rewarding experience," but it's true! Even now, the next day, I just feel so proud and happy for my students. I think we all gained a lot of confidence in our abilities through this students and myself, and all the other teachers. I really thought the school was CRAZY when they first introduced the plan for Festival, a few months back...and I do still think they're a bit crazy, after witnessing so many weeks of frustration and criticism and impossibly high standards for the students...but now I think that a lot of the struggle and necessary effort was such an incredible learning experience for everyone involved. It really made me realize how far my students have come in the past 6 months. When I first started teaching them, they were 5 year olds with just half a year of English experience. They could only say things like "My bathroom, please!" accompanied with lots of whining. Now look at them- they can sing a whole song in English (and a Beatles song, at that), accompanied by choreographed movements...and can recite verses of English stories in front of an auditorium full of people! I actually had tears in my eyes at a few points during the day...and not just tears of frustration, like I'd had during Festival practice the past two months...!
I hate that I have to think about this, but I also hope that the students received all the congratulations and happiness from their families that I felt for them after their I've definitely noticed, and dealt with before, their parents are truly the toughest critics. Just one day before Festival, I had a student's mother call the school to express her concern over my students' overall pronunciation of their lines for the Festival story. She just wanted to make sure that our class would be as good as, and hopefully better than, all the other kindergarten classes, pronunciation-wise.
I know that this is the structure of their education system, that their standards are sky-high even for the youngest children...but it still made me sad that the parents can't simply tell their children to "have fun" on Festival Day. I can't help but compare that to a similar scenario back home...when we had Christmas concerts and Spring concerts in elementary school, weren't we just given a hug, a kiss, and a "good luck, have fun!" before hopping onstage? I made sure to tell each of my students, individually, before they went onstage, the same thing...with a few rounds of "congratulations" and "great job" afterward!
I never thought I'd be sad that Festival Season is over...but its completion signals the end of the school term, and thus the changing of classes. The 7-year old kinders "graduated" to elementary school on Saturday (Korean students don't officially start school until 1st grade), so they'll no longer be part of the big kindergarten family. And my class will move on to the 7-year old I'll most likely no longer be teaching them. We haven't found out officially yet, but it's most likely that I'll be teaching a fresh batch of 6 year olds (without any prior English experience) starting in just a week. I'm very sad that I will no longer be teaching my kindergarten class...I said this onstage during Festival, when us teachers had to introduce ourselves and offer comments about our classes, and I really believe it...that coming to school every day for the past 6 months, with the anticipation of teaching my kinders, has been like getting to see my best friends everyday. They're the ones who could instantly put me in a good mood with just a smile or an excited shout of "Britney Teacher!" There were really just a few days in those 6 months that I felt truly enraged or frustrated with them. I feel so attached to them- they're my little babies, and I'll be so sad to see them move on without me.

And finally, the other big milestone...6 months down, 6 months to go in South Korea! It's official- the half-year mark has passed. That was such a strange feeling, counting such major events and times off my calendar of time in Korea. Halloween and Thanksgiving, check. Christmas preparation and Christmas vacatuion, check. Darren coming to visit, check. Festival, check. And now the Six-Month Mark, check. I just have a feeling that soon will be spring, and then the months will just roll by from there...


1 comment:

  1. I love the comment about Samuel!!! So true! Good call on the random costumes, Jenny cried because they dressed her in an orange pumpkin suit when all she talked about was visiting kings and queens!