Sunday, March 18

South Korea: Mass e-mail #2

Hello my friends!
When several of you wrote and asked how my teaching training is going, I realized that the time has come for me to send out another update. Two weeks ago we new teachers were ripped from the safety of watching other teachers do their thing and thrown into our own 10.5 hour work days, and 4-class loads.
In the morning have a class of 5-year-olds who are beginning their second year at the school. In these English schools the teachers have the responsibility to assign English names to the new students. Last year my kids had a teacher who named them after the Chipmunks and the Brady Bunch. Hence, when I am forced to be disciplinarian I shout things like, "Marcia! Bobby! Greg!" or "ALLLLL-VIN!" It adds a certain degree of humor. The kids are hilarious. One kid is named Rocky. He is the smallest, but smartest in the class. One day I got a letter in the mail and they saw it. He read it, "Joy Houck" perfectly, without an accent or hesitation. Now he calls me Joy Houck instead of Joy Teacher. And when I showed them pictures of my family he pointed to each one and said, "Houck, Houck, Houck." Peter falls asleep in class everyday, sitting cross-legged in his chair. He is probably 4 years old, almost a year younger than the rest of the class. Sometimes I just can't help but pick him up like a toddler and hug him.
In the afternoon I have a class of 6-year old students who do not speak English. I got to name them. I have a Bert and Ernie, a Chip and Dale (named for the cartoon, you sick-o's), I named one after my father and I have a Hope and a Lauren for my sister-in-laws, and one after Nina Simone. If I didn't name one after you, please don't be offended. It probably just means that those names were already taken in other classes. :) This is the class where I have to work very hard to keep their attention and get them speaking in English. They're bright and energetic. I sweat in that class, trying to dance and sing and keep a few of them awake.
At 4:30 and 6:00 I have Luke's students from last year. We have taken to one another very easily, but I do have a good teacher to live up to. Everyday we spend the first 5 minutes with them asking me questions about Luke Teacher, and then begging me to invite him to our class. He made an appearance one day and there was much rejoicing. These kids are 8 and pretty fluent. We can talk at a normal pace, and joke around. Sometimes their obsession with cool pencil cases can be overwhelming and distracting. It reminds me of when my friends and I collected YIKES! erasers, so I have some empathy.
I also tutor the boss's daughter twice a week. She is a sweet girl, but she gets tired of doing schoolwork and wants to play most of the time. Her parents peek into the classroom periodically so I really have to keep her on task, but I feel bad about it the whole time.
When I'm not at school I'm doing a variety of things including (but not limited to) grocery shopping, learning to cook, vacuuming my floor, checking my e-mail, reading great literature, walking in the park, spending time with other foreigners, and trying to get a grasp on this elusive language. I look forward to the coming weekends when groups of us will travel to other parts of this fair land and see the sights. Two weeks ago I got to see Seoul for the first time. It is huge! I saw some castles and temples. I also got to speak Spanish at a Mexican restaurant, eat some Egyptian food, visit a used bookstore, sip some Starbucks (with fond thoughts of my father), and watch a marathon. I have pictures of such events, but I have to figure out how to create a lasting union between my camera and this computer before I can show those to you all. I promise pictures are on the way.
Again, I'm so grateful for all the e-mails and letters. I think of you all often. Sometimes I imagine that I'm driving on 283 or eating at Pakha's or walking along the Susquehanna or throwing my nephews/niece into the air or enjoying some Gallo Pinto with Cafe Britt. Those are cool memories connected to even cooler people.
Much love to you all!
P.S. The duck was unbelievably delicious!

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