Monday, 18 October 2010

My Top Five Koreans

In no particuar order...

Angela - My most adorable student who was the hardest not to steal. The one who worries about me thinking she prays to pop idols and apologizes to my skin when I have sunburn. She's just the sweetest-natured child I've ever seen.

The guy that works in the convenience store downstairs from Lacey's apartment - Unfortunately I don't know his name, but that dude is awesome. He's really old and I think if I'd met him at the start of the year I wouldn't have realised how nice he is because he pretty much doesn't speak to me or Lacey, but he's far from grumpy and he's just a really nice guy. Just the sort of fella that makes an excellent granddad.

Peter - This kid is the archetypal middle-schooler except that he's way smarter than he ever wants to let on. His great dream in life is to sleep for a week, he hates every subject at school and his hobby is 'hanging out' (I told him months ago that only little kids say 'play with friends' so he never EVER says that now.) He, and the rest of 'Brave' class, tortured me pretty much every lesson and even though I had fun in that class, I was convinced they didn't like me. Then on my leaving night, their Korean teacher told me they thought I was 'so cute' and they would tease me because I got so embarrassed. Silly me thinking I was being a hard ass.

Sang-Ah - I sat next to Sang-Ah almost all year, and for most of that time I thought her name was 'Sang-Hwa', what with that being printed in large letters above her desk. But mis-pronunciation aside, she was a great desk-buddy and we had some enlightening chats about things like whether you can 'wear' a backpack and how to deal with our shared class that just wouldn't do their homework. (The class did come around eventually after repeated threats and detentions.) In my last week, she gave me a leather bracelet that I've been wearing ever since. She's the kind of person that makes me miss Koreans a lot.

Kris - Lacey's boss is just about the funniest, smartest and most Korean woman I met all year. She never did let us pay for dinner, and she was always helpful in detangling Korean culture queries. Almost every time I saw her for one of those raucous dinners, someone had a 'Why do Koreans...?' question. Almost every time, she would hesitate and be surprised that this was even peculiar to us. And almost every time we would all leave with a little more understanding than we started with, or at least a funny story.

And a special mention has to go to my mothers' class. For the whole year I taught a small group of the students' mothers and I learned at least as much as they did. Even though the grammar we covered was pretty basic, it seems like we must have touched on every topic, and their lack of prudishness made for lively discussions. I'll never forget how nice it was to have a whole set of surrogate mothers when I was so far from my own.

Koreans. I sure do miss those guys.

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