It’s easy to feel lonely. I won’t even qualify that with a “when you live abroad” or a “when you live in a rural town.” At the risk of sounding pretentious, I think our inclination towards loneliness is an essential part of the human condition. Everyone has been lonely at some point in their lives – it’s something that ties us all together. It also helps us appreciate our connections with other people.
Today we had our GO GO QUIZ KING show. It was absolutely ridiculous. Do you know how many cameras it takes to film a game-show featuring students? Six. There were also three different emcees, six people working the cameras, six people sitting behind screens behind the cameras adjusting goodness knows what, three personal assistants, two really mean directors, at least ten people whose job was to set up and take down the equipment, and a whole slew of other people who ran around telling people where to go, to clap louder, to wave their hands in the air, etc. In addition, we had the entire first and second grade in the auditorium, as well as a fair amount of teachers. We spent the entire day (9 am to 4 pm) filming.
Our students had to wear their school uniforms and their nametags. As every homeroom was able to send three students, in order for the lucky chosen few to share their experience with their friends and classmates, they pinned a few of their friends’ nametags on their vests. Over that span of time, as students were slowly eliminated, the number of nametags pinned to the vests of the remaining students grew. The nametags were redistributed in that manner to the point where at the end, when it came down to the final five students, the remaining students’ entire vests were covered with their friends’ names.
Later a student who had competed complained that he was tired. I jokingly told him that it was because of all the nametags he had worn were very heavy. No teacher, he seriously replied, those were my friends. I am tired because I was nervous.
I think I’ll remember this as my favorite part of the day. Not the musical performance, or the rock band, or the dance competition, and especially not the part where I had to get up on stage in front of six hundred of my students and introduce a question in Korean, but the simple image of the final five students covered in plastic nametags, standing apart on stage but sharing their experience and in turn being supported by their friends and classmates.
Whenever I get lonely, if I can, I leave my apartment and I go to Sloth’s Coffee. From here I can see my school, and no matter how down I am I’m reminded that though I don’t have students’ and teachers’ nametags decorating my self, I have their support. Today when I got up on stage, hands shaking, and leaned into the microphone and said “여러분 안녕하세요” the applause was overwhelming. I have my community here, and sometimes it takes being lonely to make that fact so much more sweet.