Some semblance of "normal".....
Taking charge of a classroom full of kids is a hard thing to do. Getting them to like you while simultaneously talking to them for hours about grammar is damn near impossible. And asking them to get excited interested and yes, involved in an English, History or SCIENCE (yes that’s right) lesson at 9:15pm on a Thursday night after having been in school since 7am? For-ucking-get it….
Regardless, we, the teachers at YES Youngdo English Academy are asked to do this. And we do. Some are even successful at it. Amazing, but true. Some of the teachers are so good, so involved, so connected to their students, they can make them care. They can reach out to these kids, and bring out qualities that I’m betting the students didn’t even know they had. It’s astonishing really. Inspiring.
How do they do it, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
….and that right there is where our conversation ends. Why? Because I, brace yourselves, am not among those who can inspire 13 year olds to care about photosynthesis, the sacking of Rome, or the conjugation of irregular verbs.
Shocking I know.
A few weeks into this whole thing and things are starting to feel a little more settled, a little more routine. And aside from the occasional blip, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it.
I’ve been eating something called Mondu (I think) soup, kind of like a dumpling soup with onion, zucchini, and bit’s of seaweed floating around in it. It’s really good but served at a ridiculously high temperature, as are most things around here; I have a theory that Koreans NEED to eat spicy food all of the time because they’ve burned off all their taste buds eating food that’s 500 degrees Celsius. It’s the only way they can taste anything.
The other night I ate Sweet Potato Pizza, mashed sweet potatoes spread on a pizza crust with onions, diced green pepper and covered in cheese. They gave us a package of garlic paste and a side of pickles as garnish. Bibimbap, a dish consisting of rice, a mishmash of various veggies served with an egg on top has become something like comfort food to me. Galbi, the famous Korean BBQ, has quickly become a favorite meal. Sitting at a table with a giant grill in the centre, bite sized pieces of pork or beef, raw, are brought to you along with approximately 237 side dishes, including onion and garlic that you grill along side the pieces of meat. Once cooked, you wrap a piece of meat, rice, hot sauce, onion, garlic, and whatever else you care to include in a piece of lettuce and enjoy.
The gym I joined is already feeling routine, and have received a few friendly nods from the trainers who are there every morning when I am, with the language barrier firmly in place, it’s the most communication one can hope for.
My short jaunts to the school every day are feeling briefer and briefer, and the sights and sounds of a busy evening in the heart of Youngtong, Suwon are begging to feel commonplace and just plain….well…normal.
And here I sit, in my little apartment, excuse me, OUR little apartment, listening to the clacking of keys coming from both my computer and Dave’s. Tomorrow is Friday, I’ll be taking on the gym around 10-ish and have a hot shower and late breakfast to look forward to afterwards….. I have my best class on Friday, my S4’s…..I’ll have to write about them soon☺. Another weekend in Seoul with some new friends, maybe a phone call or two home to some old friends, and another week, filled with ups, downs, kids, classes, bells, books, Baskin Robins and beers….but right now, one of the best parts about being in South Korea is clacking away on his key board, waiting for me to finish up and have a cup of tea with him.