Various fifth and sixth grade girls pointed out my makeup today: “Wow teacher! Pretty!” I told them, today only. I like to keep the people guessing.
A 6-3 boy pretended to shoot me with the air bombs they made in science so I put him in a (very gentle) headlock. I love being able to play with the students. S playfully punches boy students in the shoulder when they forget their homework.
Sixth grade is still making basic pronunciation mistakes (a b she, x-uh, eaJy instead of easy, bLeakfast, and generally adding extra syllables everywhere). I’m trying to recognize that I can’t fix or change everything, but damned if I’ll let them be lazy and tack on -Uh to everything. And all these mispronunciations I was able to correct immediately.
This isn’t Korean English class and frankly after 3.5 years of English they know better. I think part of the problem is I see sixth grade so rarely and for such a short amount of time that they’re still uncomfortable around me. S has also told me some students mispronounce on purpose because it’s easier to feign stupidity than to show it for real. Like the old wive’s tale of crossing your eyes, I wanted to say “if you keep talking that way you’re gonna get stuck that way and embarrass yourself for real in front of a foreigner”.
The other grades I see every day regardless of if I have class with them because their homeroom classes are on the same floor as my classroom. And of course you know my fifth grade friends who love to hang out and chat with me outside the bathroom.
But my friend Heejoo was hanging near me after class and I knew she wanted to talk. She couldn’t say much but “make up?” To which I responded yes, then told her in Korean that I heard her and the other students practicing K-pop songs on the guitar, which is what she had mentioned to me weeks and weeks ago. She was happy that I remembered and I’m sure I’ll see their performance in the talent show next week.
I saw various students upon leaving and they all stopped to say Hi or Bye. I stopped by the local thrift store to quickly flip through some new jacket selections. The owner came outside to say hello and I feel very honored that she knows who I am now. I heard my name from afar (is that Abigail teacher?) and I looked up: it was that same rowdy band of fourth-graders so I waved big at them and they waved back.
And as you know, I finally finally finally accomplished my final goal: The almighty and unobtainable Emart points card. It was a breeze and the only difficulty was the poor woman who had trouble spelling my name in English with the keyboard. She types in English the way I type in Korean.
In the store the sample ladies were very inclusive and I ended up buying a large bag of mushrooms. Mushroom lady kindly explained how to cook them, and again a second time when I asked her in stilted Korean if it was just oil and salt. I’ve since cooked and eaten half the bag. Upon check out I was extremely happy to hand the cashier my points card and she asked if I would like a bag. I told her yes, 두 장 주세요 (two Korean-counter-for-Bag please). “Oh! You speak very well…”
What a great end to my Emart saga.
As my various friends are busy today, I’m having a restful night in. The only shame is that less people saw my outfit.
Tomorrow I’m accompanying my Korean class friend on a Halloween shopping adventure and Sunday is a dance class. I’m hoping this is the weekend I finally make it to the rink.
I watched a recent TED talk about societal causes of depression and anxiety. Modern life is designed to collect material but not emotional needs; we no longer have tribes or a core group of people to care for us.
I’ve always struggled in office settings with 8 hours of sitting and little human interaction but I’ve never felt sad in school. I have my tribe of 250 kids who wave to me in and out of school and keep up with my outfits. I am just so grateful that this is where I am.