Monday, March 10, 2008

My Clothes Have Been Known to Excite Small Children

It is gorgeous outside today. The sun is bright and cheerful, the sky is a happy light blue, and it's warm enough to go without a coat. Naturally, I felt the need to dress accordingly, so I put on my brightest red shirt this morning. I had no idea what delight my shirt would have for my kindergartners (they are a rather unpredictable bunch).

When I walked into my first class, with my four little cuties that speak next to no English, I was greeted with cheers of "Hello! Red! Red! Hello, hello!" The kids paid much closer attention than normal, so I'm wondering if the shirt had anything to do with it. After class, Jay, my slowest little boy, came and sat with me for a few minutes and kept pointing to his shirt and then mine, saying "red." (He was also wearing a red shirt.) I was so delighted to hear that he has learned something!

In my next kindergarten class, I was greeted with more cheers: "Hi Teacher! Teacher red shirt! Red!" As with my first class, I seemed to hold their attention much better than usual. So either English was much more fascinating today, or kids like red shirts.

After class is over, the kids play together while waiting for their parents. Today, as often happens, they got a bit too wound up and there was soon the sound of crying. It was little Jay, and he came barrelling into the office, ignored the two Korean teachers, and threw himself into my lap. I almost started tearing up myself! He wanted comfort from the foreigner! I can barely communicate with the kid, and yet he likes me! It was a very special moment for me.

I have reached the conclusion that although kindergartners are twice the stress and three times the work of my other classes, they are not without rewards. Kindy kids give the best hugs, for one thing. They make you want to pull your hair out one minute, and then the next minute they do something so unbelievably cute and/or sweet that you wish you could bottle the moment and preserve it forever. They are really lovable little monsters!

On Friday, when Mark and I got back from Daegu, he took me to lunch at a Chinese restaurant that serves excellent chajang myun (noodles in a dark sauce with beef). It was Kids' Day at school, so Cate and two other teachers took the kindergartners out to lunch at the same restaurant Mark and I were at. The kids saw me immediately, and began shouting excitedly, "Stiff-unnie Teacher! Hello Stiff-unnie Teacher!" (By the way Mom and Dad, thanks for giving me a name that not a single Korean can pronounce.) It felt great knowing that just the sight of me excites my little pupils. It felt even better knowing that I didn't have to eat with them!

1 comment:

Amber said...

You may have figured this out by now (I didn't read all your posts), but pretty much the same thing happened to me recently when I wore a red shirt, and as well as I can figure, it's a sort of "Go Korea!" gesture, since the national soccer team wears red shirts. I just moved here to Korea last year, so there's probably more I don't know, but this seemed to be the case.

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"