Text message from a Korean middle school boy, and other stuff

If I had to pick an age to hang out with for the rest of my life, it’d be middle schoolers.  There’s just enough cool and crazy and awkward-cuteness to keep things fun.

I had a district camp this week.  More on that later.  Maybe.  Basically, it was awesome and I fell in love with the set of 12 students in my homeroom and taught a dance class as a club activity to another 12 students and choreographed my own set and we performed it at the closing ceremony and I was ecstatic about it.

On the last day, another teacher told me in the hallway, “My students all wrote me letters!”  At first I pouted ’cause I didn’t get letters, and then I realized—this is only my favorite thing to do ever.  So I wrote letters for them.  And of course, all of our students had our phone numbers from the field trip.  So now I have 12 middle schoolers with my number and email, and I couldn’t be happier.

Kevin (they all used English names at…English camp) stuck out right from the beginning, for resembling my brother Gabe so much.  He also loves soccer.  I told him that in his letter, and this is the text message I received today.  (P.S. GRE tomorrow! Think of/pray for me!)

Notice the squiggles and arrows and asterisks–they’re all roughly equivalent to smilies in texting over here, and used ubiquitously (a word I will now ace if it shows up tomorrow. WHAT UP.).

I’m not sure what the question marks are all about?

Thank you so much
I miss you, too??
I am happy because you especially liked me^^* Have a great day ~~~

Actually, Tom was my favorite, but shhhh don’t tell.

Although Kevin is an awesome writer.  I told him he should be a reporter or write a book.  And Tom wants to start a company that is better than Apple, and he totally can.  He also wants to be a good role model.  And Bella (guess what she’s a fan of!) wants to be a prosecutor to help the poor.  She also cried when we left, which surprised me.

Maybe it’s cause I bought them donuts at the airport.  And because I sat next to her at the planetarium and we talked about how awful Jake looked with long hair.

And Joe, aw I love Joe, and I feel for him because he works so hard but he’s not quite the “best,” you know?  He was an awesome student, but not as good as the one who got awarded for being the “top” student.  He did a great job in his work book, but not as much work as the student who won for best workbook.  Story of my life.  Always falling just-short-enough.  I think I told him he is awesome in his letter.  I think he wanted to be a doctor.  (He’s the one who was featured in my last post.)

And Elena was always late.  So I told her we could be friends.

And Hyejin (who obviously didn’t choose an English name, which is totally cool) worked so hard, and I actually saw her improve a lot over the week, which was cool, and I told her that.

And David—aw David made me mad!  I mean, HE didn’t.  But for the field trip, they had to interview foreigners at the airport.  David was leading his group, because he’s so eager and endearing, and excitedly tried to introduce himself to an old man who told him, “I can’t understand you, go away,” as he waved his hands and walked away.  SERIOUSLY MAN.  SERIOUSLY.  OK fine, BE rude, that’s cool I understand you can’t find your gate and you’re upset, but SERIOUSLY.  Say, “Go away, I don’t want to talk to you.”  Don’t insult this kids pronunciation and crush his willingness to try speaking a language that is about as opposite to his own native tongue as you can get.  Stupid old man.  A curmudgeon, if you will.

OK, apologies.  Obviously you guys don’t care about my students.  But I love them!  And I really should get some sleep.  I had no idea I’d be so physically and emotionally drained after this week!

Oh wait wait wait!  I just got an email!

Rachel! I’m a Bella.
I’m sad because I will be not able to meet you.
I read the letter which is receive to you. Thank you.
I had fun hanging out with you too.
I think you are a great teacher.
I’m sure that I will be not able to forget you.
Well…I don’t know about you lots of. For example your age, your hobby, and so on…
But I know you are a nice person. And I like you so much.
I hope we can continue to send e-mail.
Good bye~^^

Best second-to-last-week ever.  One of my top weeks in Korea, hands down.

Plus, I have the best friends in the world.


Honesty may not be best, but it’s entertaining

“But, I hate biology, unsightly people. because they are creepy, vulgar.”

~ ESL student’s essay describing himself

Video surprise from my students

For summer camp, they’re making their own movies.  After filming finished today, one girl asked if I would check what’s on the cameras at home, because “there’s a surprise.”

Well they’re just adorable.

Gotta get a visual

Pictures for Facebook-less-family!

I walk up these. Every day. Multiple times. 'Cause all the teachers are together in different offices, and you go to the different classrooms for class.

The smaller building at the end houses the gym and cafeteria. I go in one much more than the other.

Roses grow like CRAZY here!

So animated

Rae likes to bake. I like to eat. We're good friends.

A student showed me some pictures of her as a kid. She's adorable. She also talks to me every day and asks what the lunch menu is. I love her.

They're re-enacting a movie. I'm going to pretend they're fellow Star Wars fans, and call it a day.

She's crazy. We're the same. She also calls me, "Hender!" because "Henderson" is too long for most students to realize it's all one name.

Adorably avoiding smooches. Girl in the glasses brought a HUGE bag of snacks for the last after-school-class, bumping her up to favorite-status.

I don't know what will happen to my self-esteem when I leave this place.

"Teacher, let me see!....OK, good. Good picture!" Why? 'Cause there's no way to even tell who you are??

Love. Them. This absolutely cracks me up. --"English ?????? WHAT?"

A student took this for me--she wanted to make sure I remembered all the Korean snacks. "American snacks, not that good. Korean snacks, best!" To celebrate last classes, or to celebrate exams being over, you can tell you students, "Snack party!" and they all bring snacks. I now realize why we always had to make "cultural food" in Spanish class. Teachers get hungry, too.

Seriously. She's nutso.

But I wish we could be bffs.

I don't think she was ready...


I wanted to take pictures of them with their emails, so I could remember which was which. I'm not sure how much these pictures will help me...

Something along the lines of "teacher, thanks for teaching us English, come back from America, teacher we love you." Seriously, my ego will completely deflate after living here.

The student who wrote this said she wants to go to school in America...

Yes, I AM happy to go to America, but you have no idea how much I wish our countries weren't so far away.

There are no left-handed people in Korea

Or so I’ve heard.

I’d heard rumors, by way of message boards and idle chit-chat, of students who are left-handed being forced to write with their right hands.  Something to do with left-handedness being seen as impure.

It would make sense, as left-handedness has often been considered as evil or unlucky or other various forms of “bad” in different cultures throughout time.

Which brings us to my own observation.

I have a student with virtually no fingers on her right hand.  She has a thumb and four nubs.  Yet she writes with her right hand.  Well, she holds a pen with her right hand.  Even when I help her with answers, I’ve never seen her scrawl more than a couple of words on worksheets in my entire semester thus far.  She usually erases the haphazard letters right after writing them down.

It upsets me how she seems to left-behind in classes.

Out of curiosity, I did a quick scan.  Sure enough, every single one of my 39 students in that class write with their right hands.

Now, I know being left-handed is slightly more common in men than women (so maybe there is some truth to the superstitions after all 😉 ).  So it’s possible they’re actually right-handed.

I’m also not experienced with losing fingers.  Maybe if you’re right-handed, it’s still easier to write with nubs than switch hands.

Or maybe every single one of my 1200 students is right-handed.

Edit: Another teacher out in the country said she’s never seen more left-handed people than she has in Korea.  So I don’t know what’s going on.  Food for thought anyways!