My blog entry for Week Three finds me on the wrong side of a soju experiment. I write to you from a very dark place. As the work week concluded on Friday, a co-worker of mine said, "Now you know why teachers drink."
As a first time teacher, I am utterly aware that I have a lot to learn. Teaching anywhere is a challenge when you are first starting out, but the language barrier of teaching English in Korea to Korean children presents its own particular set of obstacles. Here I provide you with my first ridiculous teaching moment, Korea style:
I have been assigned to teach a class that is notorious for behavioral issues at my school. It is a group of 8 little boys, around the age 8 or 9. I see them on Tuesdays and Fridays. They are usually a rowdy bunch that never stay quiet or in their seats, and they feed on eachothers misbehaviors. On Tuesdays they are required to turn in a book report. This is not new news to them. They have know this for months before I even arrived. So on Tuesday, I went into class and not a single student had a book report. I thought, Hey, this is my first week with them, I'll give them a break. So I told them, and wrote it down on the board for back-up, that they must bring a book report on Friday or else they would have detention. So imagine my surprise on Friday when only one student showed up with a book report! So, I told the rest of the students that they needed to go to detention after class and write a book report before they could go home. And then three boys start crying. No crying, isn't an appropriate enough word. Weeping. They began weeping. Audibly. And this is a class of boys that will never stop heckling and squirming and screaming.
Now, if anyone has some interesting advice on how to handle that situation, I will listen to it with Dumbo-sized ears. Because I just caved, like a big, gooey, marshmallow of a mess. Nobody got a detention, everybody got a hug, it was ridiculous. I am a spineless, jellyfish. But I swear on all things good in this world, if those boys don't bring me a book report next week, there isn't a tear in heaven that could break me. I will be strong!
So, when the end of the day came on Friday, myself and all the other teachers for their own ridiculous reasons, needed a drink. And what is a better way to let off steam than soju and singing terrible karaeoke? South Korea, and many other Asian nations, have these awesome little joints called noraebangs, where you can rent out a private room to sing your heart out with your friends, no audience required. It was an evening filled with all the best, worst songs people with no vocal talent could possibly display. There was Pearl Jam, Artic Monkeys, Springsteen, Maroon 5, Lou Bega, Loius Armstrong, Nirvana and some other terribly awesome music. I happened across "Born in the U.S.A." but being the only American in the room, I felt it would be underappreciated and inappropriate to sing this approximal to Vietnam. It just felt weird.
Aside from all the tears this week at school, and the screechy singing this weekend, I sit here on Sunday evening looking forward to work tomorrow. And I like that feeling. I have the unfortunate tendency to start looking at the end of something when the beginning has barely started, but I've already begun to wander around the internet looking at opportunites to do this elsewhere. And the possibilities are endless. South Korea is amazing so far, but the entire world is out there looking for people to teach English. And if I can do something where on Sunday night, Monday morning is looking good, I think I want to keep that ball rolling, no matter where I go.
"It's not just a daydream if you decide to make it your life."