Monthly Archives: July 2014

Random Children Chatterings

There were a few gems over the last week or so. Thought I’d lump a few together into one post. Save us all some time.

Evan the Heretic

In one of the 11 years old elementary classes, we are prepping for TOEFL. One of the reading passages was about the death penalty (we’ve also covered the holocaust and a few other cheery topics).

Evan says, “I don’t need to read this. I know all about the death penalty.”

I said, “Oh really? What do you know about it?”

“Well,” he says, “I had the death penalty happen to me in a past life. They punched and kicked and burned me alive for saying that the earth went around the sun.”

That kid is too hilariously smart for his own good.

Stop Hitting Yourself

In one of my kindergarten classes Justin kept asking “who’s punching me?”… while punching himself.

Beer Cup

Kindergarten Ethan rarely answers questions correctly, and I loved this one. There was a picture of a glass that did look a lot like a pint glass. The children all guessed “cup” when I asked “what is this?”

I told them that wasn’t the correct answer. After a pause Ethan pipes up and says, “BEER CUP!”

That kid is going places.

Stinkypants

So, one of our teachers doesn’t smell very good. As in, eye-wateringly bad some days. Last week he took to showering in Axe. He was teaching my kindergarten homeroom for a block, and I had to go in there after him. It stank so badly of Axe, I would have known he had been in there even if I didn’t know my kids’ schedule.

It was so pungent that I asked, “Was [teacher’s name] spraying something in here?” while miming spraying myself with something. It was so strong I figured he must have reapplied in the room. And that’s pretty fucking sick.

“No, Teacher,” Luna replied with her nose scrunched up. “That’s just his body.”

Awesome. Even the kids think he’s the stinky teacher.

Today’s News

That 2:30 class. I love them. Today during reading time, Jessica and Albert started reading like newscasters. Saying things like “Today on Albert News”, and then reading the page of the story like a newscaster. Albert would finish by saying, “Thank you to listening to my news. Over to you, John.”

John was singing his pages whilst dancing. And while he was doing that, Jessica and Ellie were miming taking pictures… the paparazzi.

But perhaps my favourite was Lilly. While the other four children were being monkeys, she just smiled her patient Mona Lisa smile, waiting her turn, and then reading as seriously and perfectly as she always does. What a kid.

A House is a House for Me

My 2:30 elementary class may have the best kids ever in it. They make me laugh pretty much every day. Right now we are reading a story called “A House is a House for Me”, which is a pretty epically long (epically long if you are 7 years old and reading in a foreign language) about how all sorts of things can be considered “houses” for things… if you stretch the meaning of the word “house” a little bit.

We’ve been reading this story for a couple weeks, so to do something different, today I had them close their books and I “quizzed” them on all the different type of “houses” mentioned in the story. Which, keep in mind, we’ve read oodles of times. These were the three best responses.

What is a house for a pea? “A pea is a house for a sausage.” – John (yes, that John)

What is a house for a foot? “PANTS!!!” – Albert (yes, that Albert)

What is a house for a corn ear? – “An earmuff.” – Ellie

My favourite answer was Albert’s, because he was SO CONFIDENT in his response that he stood and shouted it. You should have seen his little face when he heard the correct answer. Too funny!

Clicking Memories

Before I got back, if you had asked me to describe Incheon International to you, I don’t think I could have. It has been such a long time since I was last there, but I’ve been to Incheon more often than any other airport in the world. You’d think I’d remember more of it.

My beloved Team Six, part of which I met for the first time in that airport and have seen off in that airport, asked me to take a picture of the Gloria Jean’s coffee shop if I had the chance.

So I had a good look around when I landed, even though I was hurrying through.

Some places had changed, and I couldn’t find Gloria Jeans (Gone? Or did I just not see it?) but other places were there and the geography of the building clicked into place.

Click. And it’s like I was never away.

And that keeps happening, even though I’m in a part of Korea I’d never been to before.

But there are chains – Emart, FaceShop, Paris Baguette – that are the same everywhere. And things that I had forgotten, like using tongs to put your bread selection on your tray in Paris Baguette just – click – come back. And it’s like the past seven years away never happened.

How to communicate without language. Click.

The way vehicles look and traffic flows. Click.

Sidewalk stands of street food you find everywhere with oodang, mandu… even those weird fish-shaped things full of… was it red bean paste? Click.

How Korea smells. Sometimes great, sometimes horrifying. But even its neutral smell is uniquely Korea. Click.

Not understanding advertising. Click.

How hard people try to be helpful even though you don’t speak each other’s language. Click.

And it’s like I’ve never been gone.

And it’s so very strange how so very at home I can feel in a country that is fundamentally so foreign to what home actually is for me.

Blurring Borders

I was just thinking about how last time I was in Korea no one was using Twitter yet and people I knew were just starting to use Facebook. Instagram wasn’t a thing. Tumblr was, but I didn’t know anyone using it.

No one had a smartphone. Or a tablet. Wifi wasn’t everywhere because there was no need for it to be everywhere. We weren’t nearly as connected in 2007 as we are now.

My blog, emails and Skype calls of the shittiest quality (so bad that video was pretty much useless then) were the only ways I could share my experiences. It usually meant taking photos and notes and waiting for a block of time when I felt like uploading photos from my camera and sitting down to write out blog posts lengthy enough to actually be blog posts.

Now, I can share on the fly. In real time. And with pictures or videos, no less! Quickly, easily, and from just about anywhere as Korea is rocking the WIFI IN ALL THE PLACES thing.

It’s both wonderful and strange.

There is a bit of a downside to all this sharing shizzle though, I think. Even when I was here in Asia seven years ago, I was thinking then about how much of the mystery – the romance, if you will – of travel has dissipated. With how much easier it is to get a flight these days than it was 50 years ago, it’s much less strange to know someone who’s travelled most of the way around the world.

And now with the changes to how we communicate, I feel as though we’ve lost even more of that mystery. Gone are the hand-written journals. The long letters sent home that would take months to arrive. You might still get a postcard these days, if you are lucky, but you’re more likely to get a Snapchat of someone pulling a duck face on a beach somewhere.

Borders are blurring as more people share their experiences more often, with more immediacy, with a much broader audience.

Which Is True of Sue?

Lots of funny kids today. Started with John’s views on strength, and then Evan pulls this on me.

Evan really is a super funny kid. Today we were reading a passage in our TOEFL book about this 18 year old girl named Sue who protected her brothers during a class 4 tornado and what a hero she was… blah blah blah. One of the questions about the story was “According to the passage, which is true of Sue?”

The possible answers were:

A. She was not injured.
B. She was brave.
C. She was a volunteer.
D. She was a high school graduate.

Evan’s answer? “C, teacher. She was a volunteer. SHE VOLUNTEERED…. TO DIE.”

Something wrong with that kid. I love him.

John Strikes Again

Thankfully, less fartastically this time. But still, nearly popped a blood vessel in my eye trying to keep from laughing.

So for whatever reason, Albert (he of the “I’d ask a jaguar why he’s black” fame) was flexing his biceps at me. The following conversation then took place:

Albert: Teacher, I am strong.
Me: You sure are! Look at that muscle!
John: Teacher, he is not strong.
Me: John, why would you say that?
John: Because he’s white.
Me: o.O

So it turns out that John’s full sentence should have been “He’s not strong because he only has a white belt in Tae Kwon Do”. Which is not quite the same as “because he’s white”.

Perhaps what is even funnier is how indignant Albert became after finding out that he was being athletically maligned instead of racially taunted. Turns out Albert has a black and red belt in Tae Kwon Do… he was proper insulted by being called a white belt. These boys!

Juicy Secrets

In one of my elementary classes today I was trying to flesh out the definition of “secret” by using an example.

So I say to the class, “Perhaps I know a secret about John….” and I pause and turn to said child for effect. The whole class falls silent and all faces turn towards John as they eagerly await to hear what possible juicy secret I may tell.

In the brief silence before I can make up an innocent secret about John to tell the class, the little turdburgler looks me right in the eye and, without altering his expression an iota, lifts a cheek and audibly lets rip a fart.

Teaching is so rewarding.

How Would the Jaguar Answer?

Daily journal topic: “What would it be like if animals could talk?”

Albert wrote that he would like to talk with a jaguar. Why? So he could ask it, “Why are you black?”

For teacher’s comments I was tempted to write “Oh my God, Albert. You can’t just ask jaguars why they’re black”, but I figured the Mean Girls reference would be lost on him so I didn’t bother.