Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Three Conversations

Here, to the best of my ability, are "transcripts" of three of the conversations I had with my kids today (two happy, one sad):

Conversation #1 - "The Happy Hug"
Me: "Oh, Amber, are you sad today?"
Amber: "Yes Teacher, I am very sad. I need a hug."
Me: (after pulling her into my lap and giving her a huge, tight hug) "Is that better?"
Amber: "Oh Teacher, you make very happy hugs. Teacher, I love you."
Me: "I love you, too."

Conversation #2 - "A Country Torn in Two"
(When I walked into the E3-C classroom, the students were very eager to tell me about something. It took a minute to get them to speak one at a time, but here are the most memorable things that were said.)
Me: "So what's going on today?"
Steve: "Teacher, marker please. I show you."
(He drew a long, squiggly blob on the whiteboard.)
Steve: "Teacher, this is Korea. July 25, this happen."
(He drew a line cutting the blob in half, demonstrating the division between North and South Korea.)
Toby: "North Korea and South Korea fighting. Many people die. USA help South Korea."
Me: "I know, my uncle fought in the war."
(The students all gazed at me with respect - normally they aren't this serious.)
Steve: (Very soberly) "Thank you, Teacher."
Carol: "Teacher, me grandpa fight. He get shot."
Toby: "My family house here" (pointing to a spot in the North) "and they go here." (pointing to where Gyeongju would be on the "map")
Steve: "My grandpa fight too. His leg - ptoo!"
Me: "He lost his leg?"
Steve: "Yes."
Susan: "Teacher, my grandpa fight. My grandpa brother die."
Me: (Struggling not to bawl like a baby and knowing that if we keep talking about war, I will) "Well, okay, let's get started now. Take out your 'Let's Go' books and open to page..."
(Note: There are eight students in that class. Seven of them told me about their grandfathers fighting in the war. The kids weren't sad when they told me about it; their attitudes ranged between matter-of-fact and serious. It's very interesting and enlightening when the kids teach me about things - and believe me, they teach me a lot.)

Conversation #3 - "The Matchmakers"
Anne and Angie: "Teacher! Teacher! We saw a foreigner today!"
Me: "You did?"
Anne: "Yes. He was a man and we talked to him."
Angie: "Teacher, he can be your new friend!"
Anne: "Maybe you will marry him."
Angie: "Yes, Teacher, you should marry him! He's very nice. He talks fast, but you can talk to him."
Me: "Was he handsome?"
Anne: "Oh yes, he looks like Brad Pitt."
(They compare a lot of men to Brad Pitt)
Me: "Ooh, I don't like Brad Pitt."
Angie: "That's all right, Teacher. You can change him when you marry him!"

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"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"