The second week at Wooridul was much easier than the first. We started to get a hang of the different schedule and students, and teaching became a simpler task. Though last week’s lesson plans failed due to lack of knowledge, we could build a sturdier, more suitable program this time. As we also got more familiar with the students, it became more enjoyable to teach. Even though they’re older, these students enjoy leisurely games and less brain-heavy work as much as the kids do. Because of this, instead of the worksheets and dialogues that we originally planned, we added in fun games and activities.
I think that sometimes our status as “sonsaengnim” creates as invisible barrier between us and the students. Even though we’re the same age or even younger, there’s a level of respect that must be maintained. With kids, the same thing was true, but kids tend to let go of social customs more readily than older students. The children weren’t afraid to jump on us or give us hugs, but it’s definitely not going to happen here at Wooridul. Although physical displays of affection, the countless hugs and surprise attacks from the 1st graders at Jiguchon, aren’t present at Wooriduel, there is still a gratitude and affection that radiates from the students. For example, a student immediately lights up with joy anytime he or she is able to make one of us laugh. This reaction reminds me of my high school time when students would often vie for the approval and attention of the “cool” teachers. Being on the other end of this competition has brought an interesting perspective to this ordeal. I am sure that the next time I bump into one of my favorite high school teachers, I will bring this topic up.
As the weekdays winded down, the reality of our fleeting time in Seoul became apparent. The past two months have felt like both a year and a week, leaving us in a delirium of emotions. Regardless of whether we individually chose to focus on the sadness of leaving Korea or the joy of returning home, the fact that we have one weekend left prompted us to reflect on our Seoul bucket lists. We could no longer respond to each other’s activity proposals with “I’m tired. Let’s do that next week.” Therefore, this weekend was filled with experiences and places we’ve talked about visiting for weeks. These included Lotte World, Seoul Children’s Grand Park, a Bonsai museum, Gwangjang market, and many more. With the conclusion of the weekend, I am proud of the number of checked off items on my wish list.
On the eve of our last week in Seoul, it is important to re-enter the wondrous state of mind that we all arrived here with. It has become easy to take for granted the beauty and opportunity of both the city and our project. As the days are counted down, I know reality will become even more and more apparent, but that doesn’t mean that curiosity has to be sacrificed.