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Never did I think teaching English required so much Korean to be effective.

This week, my group and I took on a group of really energetic, sweet, and germy third graders. We kept the content level similar to the sixth grade class because the topics taught were relatively simple, but the major difference between this week and last week was the level of English. The students had passable levels of reading, but writing and speaking were nearly nonexistent. Fortunately, my level of Korean was about the same as the kids, and I was able to communicate effectively save for some vocabulary (thanks Professor Kim!!!)

This week, since we had less kids in our class, we were able to focus more on getting to know all of the students better and form stronger relationships. Despite all of the energy the students sucked out of me, I still found something unique in all of them. Mike, the quiet one who plays Ouija during every break. Han Shin, the single reason why I started carrying hand sanitizer to this school. Nancy, an all around great friend to the other girls. Emma, the cute little girl who wears jean jackets and always begs for hand sanitizer. Mark, the troublemaker who just wanted to draw some Overwatch characters. Pasun, the sweet boy who wouldn’t stop trying to give me his Mickey Mouse planner. Muan, my biggest asset in teaching and an amazing k-pop dancer. Amber, the girl who was always excited to play any games that we had and never realized that James didn’t speak Korean. Lastly, Cheon Ha, the cutest, funniest, most adorable, and wacky student ever. He was a joy to meet and teach and I’m so sad to be leaving him (he was also such a great artist oh my gosh)!!

For me, this week brought me closer to realizing why a DukeEngage in South Korea program even exists. At first thought, it doesn’t make sense why a group of students would need to travel to this country other than to go on vacation. However, the stories and talks with these students opened my eyes to multiculturalism in South Korea. The country is rapidly changing, and these students have been placed in a situation that is extremely unfamiliar. They may not come from the best of homes and are not highly motivated to learn English, so it’s important to show love and compassion and to recognize that these children are the future of South Korea.