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Blog #4

English is so difficult to learn. Though I do not remember learning it myself, my parents and my sister had a much more noticeable struggle with the language. My sister got an English tutor to transition from Spanish to English more easily and both my sister and I still lovingly poke fun at my parents for their accents and different pronunciations.


It is with this background that I come into the classroom here in Seoul. It is incredible the level of enthusiasm some of the children show. They look genuinely excited to be in a classroom, genuinely excited to learn or review the things they have already learned but forgotten. However, other pockets of the classroom show not much more than indifference. One child, who decided to name himself “Pig” for the week, would not even acknowledge a teacher. At one point, both Peining and I were trying to get him to look up at us and were only able to do so after 10 minutes and a well picked topic. I had never seen someone so determined to remain focused on anything but the lesson.

Yet, I understand. Out of all of the children in the classroom, he was a part of the group with the lowest English skill. Whenever he got a question right, it was a triumph celebrated by all his peers. You could tell the subject was extremely challenging for him. It is so hard to want to engage in a classroom when you feel like all you do is fail.

An Excerpt From My Own Life

I dreaded every single Statistics 101 class I went to. I didn’t understand what they taught me, I constantly got subpar grades, and I felt like a failure compared to others in the class. How could this be so easy for some when it was so hard for me? My Statistics TA, Steven, loved Statistics. His major, his life plan, revolved around a subject I hated. It baffled me.

It was so easy to disengage in class. When the professor asked a question, I would never answer. I tried to pay attention, I tried to listen, but all I felt was dread as he changed the slide. I found my eyes glued to the clock rather than glued to the material.

Bringing it Back

How can you not understand the struggle of a child like Pig when you have also felt the hopelessness of a difficult subject? During this program, we are also given Korean classes. Our first lesson was a couple days ago, and it was hard. I struggled, and this is coming from someone who loves learning languages and find interest in the subject. It is understandable that some students will not want to participate, not want to engage, but the main takeaway with these children is patience. Remember how much you would have liked for someone to sit down with you and explain something you found difficult, and then embody the patience you could have used at that age.


Our Fourth Grade Class