June 3

I asked C if she would introduce herself to the new fourth graders tomorrow; they’ve heard her voice online but have never seen her.

“Oh, I don’t know, do you think I should?”

“Of course you should! It can be as simple as ‘Hi, I’m Teacher C. Now show me your homework.’.”

“I don’t know, I’m shy about that.”

Girl, establish dominance! She also has yet to realize I have little to no shame when it comes to kids. I’ll do just about anything for a laugh.

C and I got to chatting about America and Korea and I complained about fake English because the plum juice we got said in Korean “su wee tuh peol lum”. C’mon, Korea, I know you have words for “sweet” and “plum”! C confirmed my suspicions: “we think it sounds cool.”

“Well I think it sounds dumb.” (I know, I know, be culturally aware…. but damn if this isn’t my biggest pet peeve in Korea!)

We somehow stumbled into the topic of squat toilets which she shuddered at and explained that young Koreans think they are uncomfortable but I mentioned offhand that I like them and I practiced squatting to the floor before I came (mostly for a figure skating move but yes, in the same vein as practicing chopsticks, I prepared for a potential squat toilet life before I came to Korea).

And so I found myself in the back of the cafeteria, my shame distinctly absent, demonstrating my well practiced Asian squat for C who cracked up, and I’m sure partly in embarrassment at my audacity.

Lunch ladies eventually came to shoo us away since talking was not allowed, and that was just too depressing so we went on our way.

In the gym locker room later, I heard “hello” followed by a more pointed, “Hello!”. No one ever talks to me in Korean at the gym so I ignored it. But a moment later when I looked up from where I was bent over maneuvering my pants over my ankle, the mask lady from last week was looking dead in my eye.

I was caught off guard so all I did was bow. Later the dumpling lady saw me in the showers and aimed a cheerful “hello!” at me.

My brain chanted “one of us, one of us”. I am IN! There are two gym ladies on my side, I really feel a part of the in crowd.

Tomorrow I get to see my former third graders, now fourth graders, and also observe what kind of teacher C is. She wants to check their homework and give them a worksheet which I find depressing, but she did ask me today if I wanted to do something different and I said no so. It’s on me.

It’s the first day back and I’m just going to roll with it.

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