Archive for the ‘Hongdae’ Category

I Will Remember You.

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

Sports Day is always awesome. Because I’m the foreign teacher and they never make the foreign teacher judge any event (except when I got roped into helping with a dodge ball game because the other judges went to lunch. That was fun) I spent the day roaming and talking to teachers and students. I’ll be honest, I barely watch any of the sports on Sports Day, I just relish the extra time talking with my students.

A lot happened on Sports Day so I’ll be blogging about it in installations, but first I want to blog about a student:

The most memorable, and most enjoyable, part of Sports Day was the long and in depth conversation I had with these four boys. They’re all from 2.5 (no surprise there) but they’re the more quiet ones. The one all the way on the left’s name is Solomon. Really. His parents named him after King Solomon. He’s interested in speaking English, and comes up and talks me at the end of class a lot, but oftentimes gets drowned out or shouted over by some of the louder personalities in that class. The one all the way on the right is Hongdae. The one to the left of Hongdae is Hongdae’s friend, and while they don’t seem as close this year as they were last year, I tend to think of them as a pair. The last student (in between Hongdae’s friend and Solomon) is the one I want to talk about.

Class 2.5 had not won a single event, and they were very disheartened, but they had one more chance – basketball. They made it to the semi-finals, and were just waiting for the third-grade boys’ semi-final match to end so that their team’s match could start. I told them that I’d cheer for them (spoiler – they lost anyway. 2.10 swept the floor with all the other 2nd grade boys’ homeroom classes in almost all of the events, it was kind-of sad), so we sat down and chatted while we waited.

Hongdae asked me to teach him some swear words in English, because I “look like the type of person who uses swear words. Just kidding. Fist bump?” and then the other student started telling me about his previous foreign teachers.

When he was a first grader in middle school (7th grade) he had a male American foreign teacher. One day the foreign teacher got mad at him (he wasn’t sure why), called him over, and started beating him with one of his indoor teaching shoes and swearing at him in English. The foreign teacher was fired, and a new female foreign teacher was hired. My student had a good relationship with the second foreign teacher, and always visited and talked to her. Recently on Teacher’s Day this student went back to visit all his middle school. His foreign teacher didn’t remember him.

This student had related his story about the male teacher almost without emotion, but looked so disheartened after he told me about not being remembered. He quickly bounced back and changed the subject to what I normally ate for Thanksgiving (he really wants to try a turkey one day. I told him he could buy one at Costco. I then had to explain Costco, which was a lot more difficult than I originally anticipated), and then it was time for the basketball game, and we went and cheered for 2.5.

This student is so sweet, and so sincere, and in my mind is every teacher’s dream student. He pays attention in class, tries hard and participates while being respectful of the other students, and many times comes and talks to me at the end of class to ask for clarification, or with a cultural question. He was in my advanced class last year, and participated in the Korean Students Speak project. He’s been disappointed multiple times with his foreign teachers, but he still tries to connect with them. The thing is, I didn’t know his name.

So I went home, I looked through my students’ mugshots, and I found him. It took me a bit to place him, because his picture is really blurry, but I found him. 형우, I will remember you.


Friday, May 11th, 2012

I feel like I always blog about 2.5, and with good reason, because there’s so much ripe comedic material to choose from. However, today’s post isn’t going to be about something funny that happened in class, it’s going to be about one of my favorite students – Hongdae.

Now Hongdae isn’t actually his name, it’s just what I’m choosing to call him as it’s actually somewhat similar to his name and because whenever I think of Hongdae, I’m reminded of him.  Hongdae is most famously known among the native English teaching community as a partying, clubbing, and live music district, but it’s also named after Hongik University (University in Korean is 대학교/dehakgyo, so HongDe) which is the most famous arts school in Korea. Why does this university remind me of my student? I’ll get to that in a second.

Hongdae (the student) is every teacher’s dream. He’s bright, pays attention, and is funny without being disruptive. He helps control the class, and helps translate for other students when they need help but doesn’t yell out all the answers. He’s a good participant during games, and pays attention during the more boring parts of class. He’s just an all around sweet kid, in a class full of (also sweet) crazies.

A few weeks ago after I finished teaching class 2.5 I left the second grade building and paused on the steps. I saw Hongdae come out after me, but decided not to call out to him, because it was his break time and I didn’t want to force him to come talk to me. He ended up calling out my name anyway. I asked him what his plans were for that weekend, and he said “drawing.” Intrigued, I asked if art was his hobby, and he replied that his dream was to be an artist. I asked if he wanted to go to art school, and he told me that he wanted to go to Hongik, and asked if I knew it. When I replied that I did know Hongdae and that it was a very famous art school, he beamed.
“Do you have any of your drawings with you? I’d love to see them.”
He blushed. “Ah no, teacher, not now. But maybe later?”
“Okay, I want to see them later. Promise me.” And we promised.

Fast forward to today. I finished teaching class 2.5, hung around to chat with some of the boys, then on my way out I ran into Hongdae on the steps again.
“Bye, teacher. Have a good week.”
“Thanks! Ah! Your drawings, how are they going?”
“Good! I… have them with me now, if you want to see them?”

I then followed him back inside class 2.5′s homeroom, to the confusion of all the students there, and he grabbed a tube from his cabinet and from it pulled out his drawings and started to explain them in English, and my jaw just dropped. The first (and my favorite) piece had been divided into four parts and each part had a BEAUTIFUL image of a water drop, hitting the water’s surface, done in varying shades of blue. The second piece was of a cat, about to attack a ball of yarn, and the third was a drawing of different types of cracked glass.

Hongdae is smart. He was in one of my advanced first grade classes last year, which makes him one of the top students (at least, in terms of English) in second grade. The fact that he’s at Changpyeong means that he’s smart, period. He could probably get into any number of prestigious academic programs at most universities, but I’ve never seen him look happier or more proud than when he was showing me his drawings.

(To help me remember students' names, I had students write their names on white boards and then I took pictures. This remains one of my favorite pictures, because everytime I got ready to take a picture, these two students would bust out laughing, so I finally just took the picture mid-laugh. Hongdae's the one on the right, and I erased the students' names for privacy reasons).