Well, it’s official. We’ve reached the halfway point in our time teaching at Jiguchon School. We only have two more weeks left andI’ve been a thinking a lot lately about our time here. The other day I asked a member of our group whether he thought the kids would remember us when they got older and we’re long gone. He responded: “I don’t know, but they’ll probably think of this as one of those funny moments in life like hey, remember when those weird looking old kids tried to teach us English all summer?”
This got to me. The thing is, so far, I’m having a blast here. Most of the kids in my classes have been great students and I cherish the relationships I’ve built with them. The thought that soon we’ll be leaving these kids and almost surely never see them again (most of them are too young to have any kind of social media) is a disheartening and sobering thought. I came into this program knowing that there are flaws in the service trip model, but as much as I remind myself of this, I can’t help but put this on myself. Knowing our terribly short time with these kids, I sometimes question whether I’m making the most of it by giving Jiguchon’s students and teachers what they want out of this experience. As a student myself and as someone with (very) basic Korean, my capacity to help feels limited, though that hasn’t stopped me from relying on some pretty creative acting, gesturing and drawing. I wish we had more time and more sustained involvement in these kid’s lives, but I recognize that in the short time that we are here, we can make sure that these kids have a good time and appreciate the joys of learning.
This week I taught the third grade class with Brandon and Youlim and it was quite a different experience from last week. While most of the sixth graders had at least a basic grasp of English, most of the third grade class did not know any English beyond the alphabet. I struggled mightily on the first day trying to communicate with the kids. Thankfully many of them knew Chinese, which I could use to talk to them. The girls were really into KPOP and would spend every break period practicing KPOP dances. They insisted that the teachers be a part of their dance so every break period we all got dragged up to the fifth floor to learn it to some pretty high standards. They were really good at it, so this was basically a free KPOP dance class. What really got me this week was that some of the students tried talking to ghosts using this weird Ouija board game called Charlie Charlie. Our lesson plans this week centered around a lot more activities rather than lectures as we realized early on that these kids were a lot more restless than our previous ones. They were always excited for all the games we played. I like to think that they were at that perfect age where they could understand how to play learning games but not yet be bored with it yet. They were so Energetic. Overall, I really liked the kids this week.
Over our weekend break we went to see a 4D movie (trust me when I say that going to a movie theater in Korea is a mind-blowing experience in of itself). We alsospent an evening at the Hanggang River Park, a beautiful urban park that was hosting a nightmarket and food truck festival. This was also the weekend where I learned to love Korean supermarkets, especially Home Plus and Lotte Mart.
That’s all for now! Next week we start teaching first and second graders so stay tuned.