Archive for the ‘Cute Changpyeong Stories’ Category

The Coffee Fairy

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I should probably preface this story by saying that in South Korea we (students, teachers, professionals, old people, young people, you name it) drink a whole lot of instant coffee. You can buy it in many forms, in individually portioned and easily portable sticks that contain sugar, cream, and coffee, in big bags of just powder, in individual cups filled with strange flavor combinations (vanilla cappuchino drip mocha coffee) at convenience stores, and most notably in vending machines.

Our school, like every other (high) school I’ve been to, has at least two coffee vending machines. You put in 200 – 400 won (20 to 40 US cents – I’ve found that the more rural you are, the cheaper the coffee – in Changpyeong it’s 200, Yesan it was 300, Seoul it was 400) and choose what flavor you want. A dixie cup drops down and spurts out powder and hot water, and voila! Instant cheap caffeine fix.

Now I normally don’t use the vending machine – I’m a teacher and have my own desk and mug, so I tend to just buy my coffee sticks in bulk and mix there, or have tea like a classy person, but sometimes I want to take a short walk, or I’ve run out of coffee, so I pay the coffee vending machine a visit. 200 won is very cheap but also an awkward amount, so normally I pay with a 1,000 won bill, or a 500 won coin. I like to leave the rest of my change in the machine, so that way when students are on their break and about to put in money to buy coffee it’s like a magical coffee fairy visited and granted them access to the magical world of height-stunting, tongue-scalding, sugary-yet-not-quite-delicious hot beverages. I always make sure to do this when students are in their classes, so no one can chase after me with the change.

Today on my way back from my one class I met two first grade boys by the vending machine. They called me over (Boy A: PODOLSKI!!!! Boy B: Ya! Are you crazy? Call her Teacher! Emily: Guys. It’s Potosky. Pah-tah-ski) and we chatted for a bit about the trip they’re taking tomorrow. They then finished getting their coffee and using the leftover change bought me some as well.

What goes around comes around.

But on a much more positive note…

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Yesterday my classes weren’t all that great, but a lot of great stuff happened outside of class. Here’s all that good stuff, in random order.

I met with the two girls who wanted to have lunchtime conversation practice, and it went much better than anticipated. I’m always a bit wary of small group conversations because many times students are pressured into doing it by their parents or other teachers and don’t actually want to be there, and thus aren’t motivated to speak, so you end up asking a lot of leading questions to fill the awkward silence which gets really tiresome. These girls came prepared with not only a topic that they had obviously thought about (Korean versus American schools) but also lemonade and so we chatted for twenty minutes about their and my high school experiences while sipping our beverages. I had so much fun talking to them that I was surprised when the bell rang. Later in the day they came and gave me a tomato, because one of the girls’ father is a tomato farmer in Damyang.

As I was leaving school I ran into multiple groups of three or four first grade boys who were carrying large paintings across school grounds and across the street. Immediately upon seeing me they start screaming “PODOSKYYYYYY PODOSKYYYY HELP ME THIS IS HEAVY” to which I of course reply “Sorry. Going home. Have fun. You are strong.” If the second grade boys like to call me “Emily Photo-ski” then I think my new nickname given to me from the first grade boys is “Podoski,” because they think that my name sounds like Podolski, who is a famous soccer player.

Boys are weird.

After school I went to a coffee shop called Te Amo and worked on Korean for about two hours. I’ve grown kind of disillusioned with textbooks because all textbooks have such varied curricula that I end up learning grammar forms that are considered beginner/intermediate by one book’s standard, but not learning grammar forms  that are considered super basic by another book but hasn’t been introduced in my book yet. Also I’m so sick of hearing about Linda Taylor, and Michael, and Natasha, and Tien, and all the stupid characters that they insist on introducing to you in the books. “Natasha is married to a Korean man and likes to cook Kimchijjigae-” GUESS WHAT EWHA KOREAN LANGUAGE PROGRAM –  NATASHA IS NOT REAL AND NO ONE CARES ABOUT HER COOKING PREFERENCES.

/rant

So instead I borrowed a book from Changpyeong’s library called 국경 없는 마을 (The village without borders) which is a book written in 1st person narrative from the perspective of South East Asian workers and their children who live in Korea. Not only is it much more interesting than a textbook, but I’m introduced to a lot of new vocabulary and grammar and I can actually see how it’s used in a real sentence, rather than in a “dumbed-down-for-foreigners-learning-Korean” sentence. This isn’t to say that all textbooks are bad, or that simplifying sentences for second-language learners is a bad way to go, it’s just that I feel that I’ve hit a rut with my Korean reading and writing skills so it might be time to try a different approach. This book is especially interesting because as I live in a rural area, there are quite a few immigrants in my town, and in Damyang-eup (about thirty minutes away) there’s an immigrant center just like the one I’m reading about. It’s doubly interesting when you consider that this book is written in Korean and there’s no English translation, so by translating this myself, I get to access a resource that would have been completely inaccessible to me a year and a half ago.

I’ve also been writing in my Korean diary, and today I’m going to meet my language partner and she’ll hopefully check it. It’s always so humbling trying to write down your thoughts in another language. My most recent entry goes something like this:

“Usually I write with a pencil because I write many wrong things but today while going to Gwangju I forgot all of my pens at school so I must write with a red pen. I do not like writing with a red pen. When I write with a red pen, I feel like a bad student. Also now while I am studying at a coffee shop my cell phone battery ran out so I cannot use the dictionary. It is very difficult. In Korea if you write a person’s name in red it is bad, right? In America, any color is okay however I still don’t like red pens.”

I feel like I’m back in elementary school. Ah well, as long as you work a little everyday, right?

However I’ve saved the best for last – so to preface this story, I should explain that in Korean schools there are no janitors. All of the students are assigned a location and a job (for example, second grade building staircase – sweeper) and they have to clean that area during a designated cleaning time, which at our school is for twenty minutes after 6th period everyday. I don’t like to leave school until after cleaning time, so I’m normally awkwardly sitting at my desk alone (all the other teachers are supervising cleaning crews) when the teachers’ office cleaning crew comes by to sweep and mop under my desk. The current mopper is scared of me, perhaps, because she refuses to talk to me, but the sweeper is an adorably sprightly second grade girl who everyday skips over to my desk (she literally skips) and asks if I can move so she can sweep under it.

This girl, MW, asked for my email address last week so that she could practice her English, but then the next day told me that she’d have to wait until the weekend to email me because she lives in the school dormitory. I told her that if she wanted she could do that, or she could hand-write me notes and I would correct them and write them back. The next day she gave me TWO pieces of paper – the original note (with drawings and multiple colors) and a photocopied one that I could edit and give back to her. The entire note was just charming, but this one section just put it over the top:

“I like to talk with others, but this school makes me study hard.  so I have to study every time.
In meanwhile, I had a dream. It is math teacher in middle school :) . Although math is often hard it makes me happy.
Do you want to know reason?
Umm, math’s range is very wide. So I’m happy when I learn new things.
also, I like teaching my friends. So, I have a hope. I grow up like you, because teacher’s class is very fun! (thanks teacher)”

Thank you MW. I hope you don’t think my similes and metaphors lesson this week is too boring.

Similes

Monday, March 19th, 2012

This week 2nd grade’s lesson is on similes and compliments. It’s a very heavily edited version of a former ETA’s lesson, but I’m rather proud of it because I managed to do something that students have been clamoring for but I personally don’t like doing in class – include a music video. Now I love music, but the thought of having to listen to the same song at least 20 times (more, if I play it for 1st grade) in one week is enough to make me steer away from including it in my classroom routine. I also just don’t really know how to incorporate songs – I don’t like just showing them as a hook without having the students somehow interact with the video, and my students are high enough of a level that I don’t want to do a random lyric-fill in (blank out some of the words and have the students listen and write them in), and I don’t have enough confidence in myself to teach my students how to sing a song. Couple all of that with choosing a song that has an appropriate message, appropriate video content (both appropriate for school, and also for their age – I don’t want to show anything too juvenile), AND understandable, and it becomes a nightmare. However, when you ask students what they want to learn in class and they say they want to hear and study pop songs, you should probably make the effort to teach at least one song.

I realized that the song “Firework” by Katy Perry was absolutely perfect for my similes and metaphors lesson. Not only did it have a great message (you’re unique, original, and you should “own the night like the Fourth of July”), but in every single stanza there’s at least one simile (ex: “do you ever feel like a plastic bag/drifting through the wind/wanting to start again?”) and the titular line of the chorus is a metaphor (“Baby, you’re a firework”). The video also shows many different types of people coping with difficult situations – there’s a kid who has cancer, a brother who wants to protect his younger sister from hearing his parents argue, a larger girl at a pool party who won’t get in the water because she’s self-conscious about the way she looks, a gay guy at a party who feels like he can’t be himself, a young kid with cancer, and a magician getting robbed (yeah don’t really get that one…). I was concerned about a few things with this video, but surprisingly enough my students made more of a big deal out of the fireworks shooting out of people’s chests (the first time you see it it’s a little strange) than the larger girl or the kiss sequence. To be fair, I haven’t taught this to any of my guys yet, so we’ll see how freaked out they get.

Watch here, it’s catchy:

Click here to view the embedded video.

I did a lyrics fill in but I took out all of the nouns in the simile and metaphor constructions and had students listen to the song and fill in the lyrics. We then went over the difference between a metaphor and a simile using examples from this song, went over how to construct similes, and then I had them construct similes about their partners. We then went over cultural differences in accepting compliments (in America you don’t refuse the compliment, you say “thank you” and try to use it to keep the conversation going), and then I called on some students and had them present their simile compliments and had their partners practice accepting the compliments.

During the guided practice some of them, completely unprompted, constructed similes about me. Here they are:

“Emily is as smart as a smart phone (Galaxy Note).”
“Emily is as friendly as my middle school friends.”
“Emily is as funny as a toy box.”

The Return of Photosky

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I think I’m sick AGAIN. Eurgh. Right now all the students seem to either be coughing, or have eye patches due to some contagious eye disease… I hate winter. Even though two of my favorite second grade boys classes are on Fridays, I did not want to go into school today. I scrapped my original lesson plan (a kind of intense one about similes and metaphors) and decided to just play scattergories to try to recover my voice. I forgot how into scattegories the students get and how much I have to yell to get their attention so that backfired but it definitely propped up my spirits.

When I entered 2.5 I immediately started teaching, but students told me to go look at the board. I turned around and saw this

DSC03225[1]

I thought that they had forgotten my Latin roots lesson, and it just about made my day.

Feeling the Love

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

All week the new students’ parents have been bringing in gifts (food) to show their appreciation to the teachers. I am so full of bread, strawberries, and 떡 (rice cake) right now.

I feel so much more at home here this semester than last. Last semester whenever students used to come into the main office I’d look up, make eye contact, smile, and look back down. This semester students actually come up and talk to me while they’re waiting for other teachers – or better yet, sometimes I look down to look back up and see that they are in fact waiting to talk to me.

Today two of my second grade girls came in to talk to me and ask if I would practice conversation with them Tuesdays and Thursdays during the lunch period. You could tell they were nervous because they had actually prepared a script with their request that they were reading off of, and they told me they wanted to “get better at English and become closer with me.” My heart just melted.

Yesterday was a testing day but I came to school right after lunch because all of the female teachers were gathering and having coffee and snacks to welcome the new female teachers. We actually have three, all of which are fairly young, and can speak some English. They’ve actually been seeking me out to talk with me, which I’m still not entirely used to.

On top of that, I’ve actually had multiple groups of students come up to me and ask the title of my club activity and tell me that they were going to/had already signed up.

Speaking of club activities, for my first day I’m thinking about having my students play Kings (sans beverage). Basically, I’ll fan out a deck of cards in a circle and give every student 10 M&Ms to start with. They have to pull a card and do the command associated with the card’s number, and they can either lose an M&M by failing to follow a command or gain one by doing it correctly. Here are the commands so far:

2’s – Tell us your hobbies.
3’s – Take one M&M from someone.
4’s – Ask someone a question using a past tense [과거]. That student must answer. 
5’s – Ask a question using a future tense [미래]. That student must answer. 
6’s – Give one M&M to someone.
7’s – 7s. Here the student who drew the card must begin by saying the number 7, the next student in place must then say 14, the next must say 21 and so on. The first student who makes a mistake or doesn’t answer for 5 seconds loses and has to give up an M&M. The game continues on from the loser’s position.
8’s – Sing a line of a song (Korean/English) OR quote a movie (ENGLISH only)
9’s – Change direction : Counter clockwise to clockwise or vice versa.
10’s – Categories : Here the student who drew the card must name a category. The student next in turn must then name something within that category. Then the next student and so on… The first student who makes a mistake or doesn’t answer for 5 seconds loses and has to give up an M&M. The game continues on from the loser’s position.
Jacks – I have never: Students put up three fingers. Students must take turns saying something they have never done. EX: I have never been to Europe. Whoever HAS been to Europe must put a finger down. Whoever puts down all three fingers first loses and has to give up an M&M.
Queens – ???
Kings – ???
Aces – ???

If you have any ideas please let me know!

Microcosom of Personality

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Receiving these notecards is, as always, so interesting. Not only do I learn a little about my new students, but I learn a little more about the students I’ve already taught and it helps me distinguish them and helps me see them as an individual student rather than a member of the class, which I’d like to think that I already do but when you teach eight hundred students, some of them only once every two weeks, sometimes some of them slip through the gaps and you find yourself not recognizing them. Hopefully with my new mug shot system (I took pictures of all of the students holding up a white board with their names on it – they say that Changpyeong is a jail, so the mug shots are rather fitting) and with these notecards I’ll be able to keep better track of all of my students.

It’s so interesting to see what students choose to share with me. I leave it very vague:

1. Hometown (not much room for creativity here)
2. Favorite music (genre/artist)
3. Hobby
4. **Random Fact**
5. What do you want to learn in this class
6. What is your goal for this year and the future [1st grade]/Name three things that make you happy [2nd grade]

As simple as it is, this separates out the students fairly well because even if a student answers every question with nary a thought, generally he or she has something (normally a hobby or music preference) that will give me pause. The student who wants to impress me, who wants to study English more intensely, who wants to make me laugh, or who really wants me to know him or her tends to be amazingly creative with his or her answers, and often has me immediately reaching for my camera to look for his or her picture.

It’s a really, really interesting way to while away a few hours.

Without further ado, some of my favorites…

2. Favorite Music:
“Sexy”
“My favorite music is hip hop. For example: Let’s get it started.”

3. Hobby:
“My hobby is go outside illegally” [he probably means break school curfew. probably.]

4. Random fact:
“I’ve never had a girlfriend”
“Changpyeong is garbage”
“I have met you before in English contest in Damyang”
“Learning how to draw pictures. I love magazine. I want to be a fashion businessman!!”
“I don’t know why I have to study hard.”
“I like ants and spiders.”
“I bought kimchi refrigerator.”
“My favorite animal is donkey.”
“I want to marry with TOP ㅋㅋㅋ and I love one piece.”
“My good point is height.”
“Today wish is eat real food (because I have a food poison disease) so I just eat rice and water.”
“I like word ‘metal’ and ‘tiger’.”
“My nickname is koala.”
“I’ll get new face. I’ll do plastic surgery. 쉿! It’s secret. Don’t tell anyone. I’ll live new life. Forget me.” [preeeettttty sure this is a joke...?]
“My face is look like moon.”
“I like “BREAD” my nickname is 빵순이. I love BREAD very much give me some bread right now!!”
“I’m unique.”
“My hobby is creating strange food. I love meat a lot.”

5. What do you want to learn in this class?
“I want to learn even profound topics, too (justice, philosophy…)”
“I want to learn about America’s roadside food.”
“I want to know foreign cute, handsome boys or men.”

6. What are your goals for this year/the future?
“I will be a super daddy”
“Becoming a master of NTS (National Tax Service)”
“My goals are going to Korea University and being rich man. Because I can do anything with money.”
“I’ll master hearing English.”
“My goals: traveling whole the world and making the finest Korean film.”
“I want to make a girlfriend.”
“I go to Yonsei University because I want to become a dentist, so, after 10 years if children have a decayed tooth, I treat them with kindness.”

6. What makes you happy?
“Success.”
“Your love”
“I will soon go to home.”
“Family. Friends. Freedom.”
“I’m proud of very very positive. Im thankful for something from little to big always. Maybe I’m most happy girl not this class but also this school. When I reading books, playing with cats, and do my best something I’m happy.”
“What makes me happy is chatting with my friend eating snacks, ice cream or noodle, and taking a walk with beautiful countryside landscape also makes me happy.”

There are so many more, but I can’t type them all, and I haven’t even finished teaching my intro lesson to all of the students. The more I teach the more optimistic I get – these kids are going to do something great one day. I’m excited to see how they develop over the next semester…

Em in Asia! 2012-01-19 00:10:19

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Walking to lunch a student (male) stopped to say “hi” to me, then pointed at his hair and said “Emily-style.”

Also, after class a student stopped to tell me, in English mind you, that he preferred my old hairstyle and with longer hair I was “a pretty girl.”

I don’t know if it’s because of my haircut or because they know me better, if this is what it takes to get students to willingly talk to me and say more than “hi” or “I’mfinethankyouandyou” or “TEACHER I LOVE YOU” then I’m going to start changing my appearance every week.

Overwhelmed but Happy

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m currently working on a bunch of blog posts, like one based on my reactions (and those of the people around me) to Kim Jong Il’s death, so I apologize to everyone whose asked me that I haven’t gotten back to yet.

It’s the last day of school. Technically my contract says that I finished yesterday but since I’m not flying out until the 29th it didn’t make sense to skip school on Friday and have my co-teachers have to cover my classes. I’m glad I stayed, also because I just have so much work to do.

Here are my winter vacation plans, for those who are interested: I’ll be traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam from December 29th until January 15th. I then teach at my school’s winter camp from (not really a winter camp, just normal classes) from January 16th – 20th. Then I immediately fly out again and travel in Taiwan from January 22nd – 27th. Then I come home, rest for a few days, and move to Seoul at the beginning of February in order to take an intensive three week Korean program. Whew.

I’m also glad I didn’t miss school because I received a present from my club class girls. Yesterday was our last club class and when I came in they had turned off the lights and made a cake out of mongshells (similar to a chocopie cake, but a different brand) with a candle on top and were playing Christmas music. They made me blow out the candle, then we ate snacks and they presented me with the present – which they then took back because it wasn’t completed, and gave it back to me this morning.

Their present is a large black piece of posterboard with the cut-out of a pumpkin illuminating the back, and notes from all of the students in the club class (eight) posted on there, as well as a drawn iture of me, and a Santa Claus. It’s adorable. They’re all adorable. However, I’m going to share the two that touched me the most, written by my two favorite second grade girls (who I won’t be teaching anymore, because they’ll be preparing for the college entrance exam) because they answered a lot of the questions and insecurities I have been feeling recently as a teacher.

To. Emily
Emily!! I’m EH ~
I was happy to be your student. I felt many things through your class!!
Various thinking, culture, food, game, all of things were fresh and interesting to me. Emily, I’m sure your charisma, sense of humor (joke) and preparations (about class) make great teacher and diplomat. I’m sad because I do not CA [my note: CA = Club Activity] anymore. But I’m happy because you give me a present!! did you know? You give me a beautiful memory and brave. Thank you ~ <3.
Your present perfect to me when I pass 수능 [수능 = suneung = college entrance exam]
I want to visit your hometown with you and CA friends ^^.
I’m very proud of you !!!
Thank you for teaching me ~
Bye ~ From: EH

The above note was from one of the girls I took with me to the Youth Diplomacy program. I’m going to miss her!

To: Emily ~
Hello, Emily. I’m DH. I can’t believe I’m 3rd grade student (exactly soon) and can’t take your class anymore. Times run too fast ㅠㅠ. All classes that we had together were so great that I will miss the class. I think you are a person who are alive. Not just alive but vividly alive. When I see you I can feel your energy reaches me, which always motivates my passion. I was moved by your passion for teaching and respect to students. Carving pumpkin, mafia game, making mummy… and so on. All of our class won’t be forget. Thank you very much about all of that. I’ll visit your home in Washington D.C> later after KSAT.
Again Thank you Thank you… Bye!! See you later.
p.s. I’ll bring a baby kangaroo from Australia.. ㅋㅋ [this was one of the 3 students at my school who won a prize in the Damyang speech competition I helped out with - I told them all I wanted a kangaroo]
From, funny DH

Overwhelmed but Happy

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m currently working on a bunch of blog posts, like one based on my reactions (and those of the people around me) to Kim Jong Il’s death, so I apologize to everyone whose asked me that I haven’t gotten back to yet.

It’s the last day of school. Technically my contract says that I finished yesterday but since I’m not flying out until the 29th it didn’t make sense to skip school on Friday and have my co-teachers have to cover my classes. I’m glad I stayed, also because I just have so much work to do.

Here are my winter vacation plans, for those who are interested: I’ll be traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam from December 29th until January 15th. I then teach at my school’s winter camp from (not really a winter camp, just normal classes) from January 16th – 20th. Then I immediately fly out again and travel in Taiwan from January 22nd – 27th. Then I come home, rest for a few days, and move to Seoul at the beginning of February in order to take an intensive three week Korean program. Whew.

I’m also glad I didn’t miss school because I received a present from my club class girls. Yesterday was our last club class and when I came in they had turned off the lights and made a cake out of mongshells (similar to a chocopie cake, but a different brand) with a candle on top and were playing Christmas music. They made me blow out the candle, then we ate snacks and they presented me with the present – which they then took back because it wasn’t completed, and gave it back to me this morning.

Their present is a large black piece of posterboard with the cut-out of a pumpkin illuminating the back, and notes from all of the students in the club class (eight) posted on there, as well as a drawn iture of me, and a Santa Claus. It’s adorable. They’re all adorable. However, I’m going to share the two that touched me the most, written by my two favorite second grade girls (who I won’t be teaching anymore, because they’ll be preparing for the college entrance exam) because they answered a lot of the questions and insecurities I have been feeling recently as a teacher.

To. Emily
Emily!! I’m EH ~
I was happy to be your student. I felt many things through your class!!
Various thinking, culture, food, game, all of things were fresh and interesting to me. Emily, I’m sure your charisma, sense of humor (joke) and preparations (about class) make great teacher and diplomat. I’m sad because I do not CA [my note: CA = Club Activity] anymore. But I’m happy because you give me a present!! did you know? You give me a beautiful memory and brave. Thank you ~ <3.
Your present perfect to me when I pass 수능 [수능 = suneung = college entrance exam]
I want to visit your hometown with you and CA friends ^^.
I’m very proud of you !!!
Thank you for teaching me ~
Bye ~ From: EH

The above note was from one of the girls I took with me to the Youth Diplomacy program. I’m going to miss her!

To: Emily ~
Hello, Emily. I’m DH. I can’t believe I’m 3rd grade student (exactly soon) and can’t take your class anymore. Times run too fast ㅠㅠ. All classes that we had together were so great that I will miss the class. I think you are a person who are alive. Not just alive but vividly alive. When I see you I can feel your energy reaches me, which always motivates my passion. I was moved by your passion for teaching and respect to students. Carving pumpkin, mafia game, making mummy… and so on. All of our class won’t be forget. Thank you very much about all of that. I’ll visit your home in Washington D.C> later after KSAT.
Again Thank you Thank you… Bye!! See you later.
p.s. I’ll bring a baby kangaroo from Australia.. ㅋㅋ [this was one of the 3 students at my school who won a prize in the Damyang speech competition I helped out with - I told them all I wanted a kangaroo]
From, funny DH

Em in Asia! 2011-11-22 02:53:12

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

I just knocked the metaphorical ball that is my classes out of the metaphorical park that represents awesomeness. Gosh.

Final exams are in two weeks, so that coupled with the quick temperature drop has been rough for the students, so a lot of them are sick and they shuffled in looking like zombies (guess those survival plans didn’t work quite as well as anticipated?) but they’re troopers, and it helps that I’ve got really active lessons planned for first and second grade all this week.

I feel like I’ve broken through a wall with my second grade boys. One of my favorite classes, and the class that I’ve always really wanted to befriend before I lose them, is class 2.4, and I’ve always felt like I liked them more than they liked me, but I think that might be changing. Today we were practicing big numbers and money, which I was frankly worried about because whenever I introduce material that they should already know they tend to become too cool for school and think it’s too easy, and I started off the class with going over numbers, but they got really into it. We went over hundred, thousand, hundred thousand,  million, hundred million, and billion, then went over penny, nickel, dime, and quarter as well as all of the bills. I asked them who was on the coins and at least one kid knew (including, who was on the fifty-dollar bill), and they asked me what “e pluribus unum” meant. We then played “The Price is Right” and they went bonkers.

*I show a picture of a diamond ring*
TEACHER! HOW MANY CARATS?
I don’t know? I found it on google?
WHAT COMPANY?
Seriously guys, just guess.
COMPANY IS IMPORTANT. ALSO, WHAT IS THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN?

*I show a picture of a Pizza Hut pizza *
Okay everyone, it’s a large Pizza Hut pizza from America.
WHAT SIZE IS IT?
I just said “large.”
IS IT CHEESE CRUST?
No look at the picture guys! THIS is the pizza.
IS IT BULGOGI?
We don’t have bulgogi pizza in the states. LOOK AT THE PICTURE.
PEPPERONI?!
*facepalm*

At the end of class I told them to cheer up and to not to be too stressed, I know that it’s a difficult time for them but I want them to rest and be healthy. The students quickly reassured me that their demeanor at the beginning of class was not because of me and I chuckled and said that I knew, but it made me sad to see them so tired.

Now that the suneung is over the second graders are literally counting down the days until they become third graders and their lives get even more swallowed up by school than they already are. All I can do is just watch, try to offer support from the outside, and make sure the students know that I care.