Thursday, March 4, 2010

Last Days and Oh...Canada

This was the scene we encountered at 4:30 am, Monday for the USA vs. Canada gold medal game. Main level of a bar in Seoul = PACKED. We took a cab into Seoul at 4 am in order to arrive at this bar in time...oops, forgot that most people would have already been there after partying all night long. That was an odd feeling, cabbing into Seoul at a time of night we'd normally be returning home from Seoul...

Upper level of the same bar = EVEN MORE PACKED
The crowds were CRAZY! The bar is Canadian-owned, so there was definitely more Canadian than US representation. There was no room to move, to cheer, even to breathe...

Not looking too fresh at 4:30 am...but excited about the crowd for the game!

Canada + the US, after the a much quieter, less-populated bar. Time is now about 8 am...still much too early to be at a bar in Seoul. I felt an odd urge to stand and sing with the Canadian teachers when watching Team Canada receive their gold medals...maybe because I knew Tom Haeg would have been belting out "Oh, Canada!" if he was watching at home??

MN girls: clearly, we acted too soon...
Team USA: Bloody Marys & Gold Medal Hockey at 5 am. What could be better??
I swear we were sad after the US lost...but you can't really tell here because we are sleep-deprived and only have thoughts of a big breakfast at the nearby "American" diner!

Everland...the magical Asian amusement park!

Like the Asian version of the Middway at the State Fair??
Ashley was a little sad...this was my last day teaching my kinder class
Tattoo Parlor: drawing hearts on each other, duh. That's what we do in kindergarten
Alex and his car
Irene...don't you just want to hug her??
Last show-and-tell with my kinder class: a duck, a Pokemon card, and Alan grinning mischieviously in the background
In kindergarten, when we're not giving each other heart tattoos, we like to brush our teeth with the toy blocks Or, we like to "drive" the toy box around...
Alan, I will miss you so much :(
Last pics with was hard not to take about a million pictures
Alan was so sad this last day...he didn't want to be in any pictures because he was "sad for Britney Teacher"
Tried to do some final group shots, courtesy of Christine Teacher...
My little babies!! So grown-up and on their way to becoming big 7-2 kindergarten students, with a new teacher...

Friday marked the last day of Fall term at school...6 months with the same kindergarten and elementary classes...and now 6 more months with all new classes. It's been such a rollercoaster of emotions lately, dealing with the stress of Festival preparation, and then the overwhelming pride and excitement of Festival, and then the bittersweet last days with my kinder class. Friday was one of my most difficult days here...I couldn't believe how attached I felt to this class. I could barely even bring myself to announce that they'd be starting new classes with a new teacher in the following weeks...I didn't want to admit it to them, let alone to myself! So of course, I took a million pictures of them in the last week and implemented many "fun days" with hour-long playtime sessions and lots of coloring, singing, and stickers. Here was one of my favorite moments on my last day...Irene pretending to give me a manicure with a dolphin-shaped squirt gun, during playtime.
When I asked how all my students were feeling that day, while writing their names and drawing their faces on the board in the morning, many of them said, "I am very sad because Britney Teacher Wednesday, noooo..." Translation: because Britney Teacher will no longer be their kindergarten teacher, beginning next Wednesday, March 3, upon the start of the new school term. All day, Alan wouldn't leave my side. While walking in the hall for bathroom break, or to play in the Big Gym, he just hung on to me and buried his face in my shirt. It made me so sad...I kept tearing up when he would cling to me and then look up at me with those big eyes. By the end of the day, zipping their jackets and hugging them for the last time before sending them to their bus lines, I pretty much lost it...and I joined Shauna Teacher in the bathroom to cry. No judging me for this...these students are so important to me...they have been like my best friends, every day, for the past 6 months. You'd grow pretty attached to them, too....
After teaching a few days this week with my new kinder class, I'm still undecided about which would be more difficult: leaving Korea right now and never seeing my old kinders again, or seeing them every day at school while knowing that I'm no longer their teacher. They seem so old and grown-up to me now...when did that happen?! And compared to my new class of little ones...WOW. What a difference a year of English can make!!
My new class: 5 girls and 5 boys, all little peanuts that weigh next to nothing and speak no English. Their names: Jessica, Jasmin, John, Jamie, Julianna, Ray, Chris, Kelly, Vicky, and Sean. The girl names Jasmin was originally named Britney (same-same as teacher!), but her mom ended up changing her name so it wouldn't be confusing in the classroom. I had been so excited to have a little Britney...but in all honesty, my classroom is a confusing enough place right now without a Britney Teacher AND a Britney Student!
It was quite strange interacting with these kids on the first day. They all looked so scared and so vulnerable...and so uncommunicative. I was afraid that I'd have a silent classroom all day- that it would just be me, blabbering away in English to a brick wall of students. It ended up being a day of complete chaos- no big tantrums or criers in my room, but lots of confusion and helplessness on everyone's part. My big goal for the day was to have them remember me as "Britney Teacher, " and not as "Son-saeng-nim," which is the Korean word for teacher. Three days in, we're still working on that one. Our other lessons have included the introduction of letters A, B, and well as far too many trips outside the classroom to familiarize the students with the location of the bathroom (and even more importantly...the location of the girls bathroom vs. the boys bathroom).
It's kind of lonely, being in a classroom full of students who cannot communicate in the least with you. I want to be able to speak with them! I miss the English babble of my old students...their broken English and poorly-structured sentences...and their newfound abilities to express themselves and thus pick fights with each other. But, I feel certain that in due time, my new kinders will be expressing their own poor English grammar...and I look forward to that day!!

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