Sometimes I feel like being an English teacher straddles a fairly fine line between cheap birthday clown/magician/pony ride, a stand-up comedian and an honest attempt at education. Point of fact, this evening I taught my first Yeong Je class (pronounced Young Jay, don't know if I've spelled it right.) All these fourteen-year-olds skulked into my classroom, usually occupied with an effervescent crew of 7-12 year olds. Because I haven't actually been told what to teach these "kids", I had prepared a couple of stories pulled from newspapers, as well as the usual introductory song and dance about where I'm from, classroom rules, etc. After reading one of the stories to them once, the vacant stares, half-asleep glazed over eyes, and restless fidgeting were a bit too much for me, and I felt like trying to have some fun. So I pulled out this sheet I got from another teacher, full of get-to-know-you questions like "what do you do when you get up in the morning?" and the like. We went through the questions together, and while they weren't exactly bursting with a need to share, I did get a few of them talking. It also helped (and this is the stand up comedian part) when I would suggest answers to the questions such as "The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is: eat kimchi? wash my face? brush my teeth? kick my mom? (sorry mom, for comic effect only) In the end, they left a little intrigued, a little wary and more than relieved to go home. It's important to remember that these kids have been at school from like 7am and most of them don't get home from classes until after 10 at night. I told my partner teacher that if they ever told a western kid he'd be in school that long, there'd be riots.
In other news, I had a little housewarming get together at my place on saturday. A modest gathering, thankfully, because my place isn't that big. But Ms. Shin, my partner teacher, showed up with her daughter Eun-ji (pronounced like a cross between Oon-jee and Un-jee). She's 17, and we talked about what she wants to do when she's out of high school (go to university in Seoul for business to be a CEO) and she inquired about how much partying high school kids in the west do. I tried to play it down, but she was visibly envious. Poor kids, they just wanna get their mojo going, but competition is FIERCE here for higher education, so schedules are strenuous.
I'm going to Chuncheon this weekend for a Mime festival, which sounds cool. Going to make it a spartan weekend, and try to lay off the sauce because finances aren't spectacular, although booze is so cheap, I'm focussing more on figuring out cheeeep accomodations which shouldn't be a problem. For my parents and relatives reading this, when I say finances aren't spectacular, I'M ALRIGHT!! I just got an advance from Mrs. Kim on next month's pay check, I just gotta make it last. Pretty stoked to see what kind of mime is miming at the mime-time. Anyhoo. Bye for now.