July 7

Jeongyeon, the former fifth grader who helped me make cup ramen in a convenience store once and later told me about a dead mouse, cashed in her checks today. You also know her as the one who asks for candy and last week she reminded me that during that fateful dead mouse encounter I owed her several pieces of chocolate. Today I was teaching the sixth graders and happened upon her outside of her homeroom classroom.

I held a book in front of our faces and told her inconspicuously in Korean “come to English class after school is over and I will give you chocolate”. Bangs looked on in interest and asked me in Korean what was happening and I told her in English “nothing“.

The first two sixth grade classes were pretty horrible in the sense that the students were fairly lifeless and apathetic. I know it’s my responsibility as an educator but with only thirty minutes a week with them it sure is difficult. C even commented today after noticing my post sixth grade tired face that the students at this school seem more depressed and less interested in education than others in the area.

But 6-3, the class that yelled at me that they would never have a foreign friend, were much more involved and interested and I thought again how important it is to make relationships with your students.

One boy turned to me in question and asked for some clarification on sicknesses and then recited the phone number you’re supposed to call if you think you have the virus. He said it in English so I’m happy.

I think E was not too happy with them being loud and a bit obnoxious but I found it refreshing. Loud is better than lifeless in my opinion. And I wouldn’t even say their loud was bad; during the conversation game I helped out a group of boys and three of the boys lectured the other for not participating properly which was funny to see. I appreciated it.

But E stayed behind after class because she said she had to talk to the homeroom teacher and I imagine it might be about their behavior. That makes me a little sad: at least they tried.

After a lively lunch (C is starting to play along), there was a very small knock on the back English room door. I saw half of Jeongyeon’s masked face peeking through the window and I jumped up to follow through on my promise. She had two small water bottles in her hand, I really have no idea where they came from, and told me in English “teacher, for you“.

She then whipped out her phone which had the camera ready and asked to take a selfie. I think she managed a quick one and then I counted out the five chocolates that I had promised.

I wondered in passing where our blurry masked photo would eventually end up as she dashed off into the afternoon light with her rightfully earned spoils.

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