Last Friday was White Day. White Day being the girl’s Valentines.
On Valentines Day in South Korea guys get the day off, it’s the girls job to spoil the boy. This gets reversed on White Day, March 14th when it’s the girls turn to get fawned over and lavished with gifts (and it’s nothing to do with steak and BJ day before you ask) Although according to my elementary students it’s another candy day like they don’t stuff the stuff into their faces every day.
In terms of relationships my love has reversed in my job since I began in August. Initially the shizzle was being with the elementary kids. Now the ..zing is with my middle school students. These guys were difficult little sods when I first started teaching them. I recognised the shyness in some, this I was expecting but the blatant attitude I was not. I thought this was a land of obedience and respect. WRONG. Kids are kids WHEREVER.
From refusing to open books, insisting on playing on phones which they refused to hand over, to having to spend classes listening to sighs and watching sullen looks. Argh, they were a pain in the butt. One girl Helen had a particularly sullen face, that is when it wasn’t facing downwards to the desk. Just to complicate things, in South Korea, a western teacher has to deal with a Confucianist classroom and to confuse things even more, by my guessing (and it is only an inexperienced guess) this system is now altering leaving a gap for even Korean teachers to gaze over and wonder what to do. Frankly it’s all too much to get into at the moment but the silence facing the teacher at the front of the room and the hidden eyes can be attributed to this system. The opposite of silence is a classroom of noise from singing to chattering to the click of a camera as Jenny takes a selfie after applying her cherry lip tint…sigh…
Slowly however, the tide began to turn. I am armed with ridiculously boring reading comprehension tasks for all of my middle school students meaning every class they have to do the same thing, BORING! They are bored and I am bored. I tried my best to introduce different learning games and slowly the interaction began. Slowly at first, then one day on leaving the room, Eden, Hannah and Gina dropped their upper bodies in a deep bow, a sure sign of respect. The nut was cracking. Helen however, still looked at me like she had a voodoo doll under her desk in the shape of a Hapkido warrior.
On Friday I was shattered and for some reason my middle school class had shrunk so we rattled through our comprehension quickly then I put my finger to my lips and waved my hands. Shush and quietly leave early was the suggestion. One eejit, Jim went and stood outside the door of the classroom where my Director was teaching the lucky sods who get to learn grammar on a Friday night. Seriously? The plank, doesn’t he know a good thing when he gets it?! I was ready to run out the door but I faffed about for ten minutes to ensure I wouldn’t leave early. As soon as it was 8.30pm I beelined for the door past the twins who were yelling as usual. Byee Teacha! Friday night and I’m out the door, I’m done for the week. In a job were you are required to stand and “present” yourself all week, getting time off is like getting into a warm bath.
I was just about to shift gears and pick up speed to get down the stairs when I heard a soft but sturdy, “teacha”. Helen was behind me, we were alone in the corridor. This was it the moment when she gets me with a geom sword. She outstretched her arm holding a lemon flavoured Chupa Chup lollie. “Teacha” she placed the lollie in my hand. I think my heart may have actually stopped for a moment just as if my imaginary boyfriend had given me a rose for White Day. I received a few little choccies and lollies on White Day but my lemon Chub A Chub is still sitting on my table at home. The rest I scoffed, this I’m keeping for a while longer. My White Day gift.