Please note the Kim Yu-Na gingerbread woman figure skating on the pond in the left corner...a hit with the Koreans, of course
Another Christmas away from home- no easier the second time around.
But still, it's debatable whose anticipation for Christmas was greater: the 5 year old students finishing their tenth month of intensive English immersion with the introduction of conjugating past-tense verbs...or the 24 year old teacher finishing her seventeenth month abroad and about ready to collapse from the sheer exhaustion of introducing the conjugation of past-tense verbs to said students.
Whew....Break. was. necessary.
I've never felt entitled to a vacation before this year's Christmas break from teaching (ahem- aside from the old high school whines over the injustice of never being granted the same warm weather, spring break getaways as my classmates. Boohoo indeed- those whines were merely in vain and merely out of obligation to fulfill my role of displaying teenage angst). To feel deserving of a break is a pleasurable state- knowing you've applied effort and persistence toward a goal or other definable end. To feel a sense of entitlement toward something more- a bit too self-indulgent, like an acceptance of complacency now that said goal has been achieved.
Nevertheless, I have to say again....Break. was. necessary.
Sometimes I forget that I am teaching children. Not the act of teaching in itself- one can never detach them self from the thorough presence and attentiveness necessary for such a job- but the reality of whom I am teaching. We can pound out workbook pages in a heartbeat, recite new vocabulary in the blink of an eye. We can recite vowel pairs and sound out double consonant blends and dutifully proclaim what the weather is like today. We learn English songs, pick fights with each other in English insults and retorts, and try to remember that "very many" is not a correct description of quantity for every single noun (once and for all, NO- we cannot be "very many happy!")
And somehow during those days of study...somewhere between the stacks of flash cards and rote memorization, the most important lesson of all got lost in the shuffle: we are just beginners. Only one person in the classroom is a day older than 7 years old (whether you're counting in English or Korean years!). The majority of the classroom, in fact, still needs assistance in blowing their nose and putting their shoes on the right feet. How could I have looked past their consistent habits of spilling milk as soon as the cup is handed to them...and their reactions of pouts and tears when a toy is taken from them...and their hugs and cuddles and sneaky ways of worming themselves into my heart, despite their most undesirable of behaviors displayed beforehand?!
They're still babies. We have packed them just about full to the brim with "English goodness" in the past ten months. Looking back on it...ten straight months of "work" with this class of kindergarten class alone...has not been work at all.
I deserved this Christmas break. But I was not entitled to it...this one was for the kids.
P.S. Chris, Crystal, Jamie, Jasmin, Jessica, John, Kelly, Ray, Sean, and Vicky all wish that you had a "very many happy" Christmas :)