Thursday, 22 December 2011

Making a Difference

All of the teachers were supposed to be going to Samcheok this weekend for a celebratory end of year getaway, however, what with the recent goings on in the North this was cancelled and instead we were taken to lunch and dinner and some things happened which I’d like to share with you all.

I didn’t really know what to expect from school today but low and behold all of my lessons were cancelled and I spent the day planning my winter camps (I left my USB at school I hope it will survive the night). We went for lunch in Damok (where my school is) and had a kimchi and meat soup which was actually amazing. This only went on for about half an hour and there was no soju involved so I was a pretty happy customer.

At 5 we left for Chuncheon (roughly an hour away) to have dinner. I rode with Mr. Chen (the man who always tries to get me drunk). He’s a good guy and en route he taught me some Korean and through broken ‘Konglish’ we talked about what its like living in a foreign country. He likes to call me his brother and I have no idea why. He says he likes me because I have a positive attitude towards life. Ha! He ought to read my novel! He told me he learnt English himself and although his pronunciation is off he’s done pretty well.

We arrived at the beef restaurant and I have to admit it was the best Korean food I have ever tasted. Anyway, I sat opposite my vice principle, next to him the principle, my co-teacher on one side of me and Mr. Chen on the other. The whole school was in attendance along with some of the teachers kids (who also go to our school). Toasts were given and we started to eat. I went over to my principle and poured him some soju on two occasions. On the second he pulled my co-teacher over to translate (he speaks no English). My principle told me that if I ever have a problem (any problem) I should go to him and he will sort it out for me, no problem. He also said I am doing well at learning Korean culture. The second time he complemented me was when I got back from the bathroom. On my way back through the restaurant I stopped off at the kids table and played with them for 20 minutes or so, I even got a second grader to spell some words in English (her choice not mine), when I got back to the table the principle gave my a huge thumbs up and shook my hand telling me I was doing a very good job. Brilliant. Maybe this whole going out with the school thing isn’t so bad after all?

Upon leaving, the 2nd Grade teacher (who I always thought disliked me for some reason) approached me and thanked me for hanging out with the kids and all that jazz. Again this made me feel great and really made me feel like I’ve been making a difference in these kids lives.

You know when the kids are bored. You know when they are switched off. Luckily this is a rarity in my classes. It’s nights like this, when I get to spend time with my kids outside of school that I realise how positive the kids are towards me. They talk English with me, try and get me to read them stories and play games, they joke around with me and teach me silly Korean phrases. It’s hard to describe but the kids really make this job worthwhile, and even if its sometimes tough to break through language and culture barriers with the other teachers at work, those kids make it mean something. I’m glad I came here.

Good night.

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