Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Teacher, you is Gollum!"

And those words from little seven-year-old Jinny aptly sum up Friday. It was a very fun day, in which I goofed off with the kids quite a bit and had a blast. I love days like that!

I started the afternoon classes by somehow managing to teach a new game to my new grammar class (the one where the kids speak no English yet). The kids, even the two quiet little girls, loved my game and really got into it, with a level of enthusiasm that I am convinced can only be reached by Korean kids. The next class also had a new game, with even greater success. The kids actually let out a huge collective groan when I announced that class was over, and begged me for "five more minutes, Teacher!"

By E-2A, I was feeling pretty jovial, and decided to have a bit of fun. So, I walked into the room acting like I had no idea what day it was, and laboriously wrote on the board the date that they shouted to me - deliberately putting the wrong year (2007). The children were shocked.
"No, no, Teacher!" They all shouted at once. "It's 2009!"
"Oh, I'm sorry," I apologized. "You're right. It's 2003, of course!"
"No, Teacher! It's 2009!"
"Of course, of course, how silly of me. It's 2001."
"No, today is 2009!"
"My goodness, did I get it wrong again? Let's's 2020!"
"NO, TEACHER!!! 2009, Teacher! Two, zero, zero, nine! Teacher is crazy!"
"Okay, I've got it now," I reassured them, erasing the year. "I know exactly what year it is now. Thank you so much for helping me." Carefully I wrote on the board: 1682. The response was a cacophony of laughter and shouts. The kids loved my little shtick (I did the same thing, with even bigger laughs from the kids, in three other classes later in the day)!

During the rousing game of hopscotch that followed, Jinny teasingly called me Gollum. Naturally, I had to spend the rest of the class speaking in my best Gollum voice (bad for the throat, but the kids were delighted, especially when I started referring to each of them as "Precious"). It's always so funny to me how things like "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" can unite people around the world. I mean, here I was in a classroom more than 10,000 miles from home, and I could make pop-culture jokes that the kids understood. In another class, I sang an ABBA song with the kids (which they knew even more words to than I did). What a small, funny world we live in!

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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"