Archive for the ‘graduation’ Category

On Becoming a Gentleman

Monday, February 11th, 2013

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of updates. I had to leave my computer behind in CP while traveling, and picked it up this weekend when I went back for CPHS’s graduation ceremony.

While I love, or at least like, most of my students regardless of their actions outside of class, it’s always nice to realize that your students are not only good students but genuinely good people. Somehow through the two or three years you’ve known them, they’ve developed and grown, and you’re proud to watch them go out into the world.

On Friday I watched my seniors graduate. It was surreal. After graduation the parents and friends of graduates swarmed into the part of the auditorium where the graduating seniors were sitting, and I narrowly escaped getting whacked in the face by multiple bouquets. While there were a few seniors I wanted to seek out, I decided to exit the auditorium and congratulate them on facebook later. Luckily, the universe seemed to be working in my favor, and I ran into all of the seniors I wanted to talk to in the hallways after graduation – all of them except for my thousand kilowatt senior.

Later that day I went into the nearby city and hung out there for a few hours. I was there a little later than expected, and missed the second-to-last bus back to CP by about ten minutes, meaning I’d have to wait outside in the cold for the last bus. Right as I was getting off the bus, I noticed my thousand kilowatt senior (TKS) and ran up and tapped him on the shoulder. He saw me, beamed, and shook my hand.

As we got off the bus and went to sit down to wait for our respective buses, a creepy older man came up to me. Now, I’m an adult, and I’ve had plenty of creepy older men come up to me both in Korea and in the US and I know how to handle myself, but TKS looked horrified. He jumped up, placed himself between the older man and me, and started apologizing profusely while simultaneously gesturing at me to walk away and glaring at the man.

I’m sorry teacher, sometimes we have bad people. Please ignore these people. I will protect you.

Don’t worry TKS, it’ll be okay. You don’t have to protect me.

Yes I do. He is an old man. A bad man. I will wait with you until your bus comes.

TKS! You don’t have to! Your bus will come very soon, and my bus will not come for another 40 minutes.

I will wait.

It’s cold, and you’re not wearing a proper jacket! Don’t worry about me.

I will wait.

True to his word, he did. His bus came five different times, and he never took it. The old man came up to us three more times, and he shooed him away from me each time. We talked about the graduation ceremony, his future, how he wants to keep improving his English, and about why I came to Korea. He expressed regret that he didn’t take my club class (TKS, maybe you would’ve felt uncomfortable – at that time it was all girls. Oh no, that’s okay^^), and said he would order his younger brother to take it. When other students passed us and said “hello” he admitted that he was a little embarrassed to be seen talking to me. When I asked why, he assured me that it wasn’t because of me, but because he was embarrassed at his low (his words, not mine) English ability. When my bus came he walked me to the door, then text messaged me to thank me for talking to him and to wish me a happy new year.

Regardless of his lower-than-CPHS-average (but still good) English ability, despite the fact that he didn’t receive admission to an extremely prestigious university (his university is still a pretty good one) I consider him a CPHS success story. This, my friends, is what a gentleman looks like.


Thursday, February 7th, 2013

I’m back at CPHS for the first time in over a month and screams are echoing through the halls. It’s graduation day, so spirits are high. First and second grade students are running around in the halls like wild things (though, let’s be frank, when do they not), and the third grade students are almost unrecognizable covered in makeup, wearing street clothes, and with their dyed hair and contact lenses. It’s almost frightening to think that in March I could run into one of my former students in the street, at a coffee shop, or heaven forbid a bar, and fail to recognize them.

I just received the paper that lists the statistics and facts surrounding graduation (the number of students going to the top schools, the exact day and date of each graduation in the history of CPHS, who will scholarships) and something struck me – every single student graduated. Every student. My high school is a high-achieving magnet school so there’s no reason anyone should fail, but I compare that with my high school and I’m flabbergasted. The students that will graduate are the first group of students I taught at CPHS, and though I only taught them for a semester I really enjoyed that experience. They got me when I was new to CPHS and still learning the ropes, and not at my best, but they were great to me anyway. Across the country, another group of students dear to my heart has graduated, or will graduate soon. That group of students are the students I taught as first graders at SGHS, and my host sister is one of the many who will be graduating. The CPHS graduation ceremony starts in less than thirty minutes, and though it was a long trip from Seoul, and though I’m missing a day of Korean classes, I’m so thrilled to be here.

Snow and Fuzzy Feelings

Friday, December 7th, 2012

There is an Emily Teacher-shaped imprint in the snow right outside my school where I fell this morning. Luckily it was right at the side of the building, so I doubt anyone saw me. In any case, nothing’s hurt except for my pride.

It’s finals week so I don’t have to be at school, but I had an appointment with some third grade students. They’re graduating in February, and the student government is asking ten teachers if they can film them saying “congratulations” and imparting wisdom to the graduating class. The third graders all received a list of teachers and had to choose the ten that they wanted. Somehow, I was chosen.

This means the world to me. I only taught the current third graders for one semester, when I first started at the school. Because we start in August, and the academic year ends in December, our contract starts and ends halfway through the academic year. I had a very rocky first semester, as I was really intimidated by the previous teacher. She had been there for two years and was an extremely competent teacher with teaching experience prior to F*lbright, and I was still (and am still) figuring out how to teach. It was better than my first semester at SG HS, but I’m not sure how much the current third graders got out of my classes.

Though I only taught them for one semester over a year ago, though at that time I only taught them once a week, though I was not at my best and I was still adjusting to the school, they chose me as one of ten teachers to videotape. I am so, so thrilled. Full of warm fuzzy feelings, even as the snow melts into a disgusting slush outside.

Speaking of snow, I wandered around the village at 5 pm yesterday after the snow had settled and the sun was low in the sky, and took pictures of the outskirts of town. Enjoy!


The houses behind my apartment are covered in snow.

The dogs play in the fields on the outskirts of town.

The road out of town.

Our school.