I’m getting settled in the routine of “B-i life,” but have noticed dark circles developing under my eyes. Some days are really painful and I spend more time quieting the children and trying to get their attention than actually teaching. When the class is attentive, it’s like a much needed reprieve and I wish I could magically extend those 15 seconds to the rest of the day.

I think the kids are starting to respect me more, but it’s hard to tell. Every day is a coin toss. I’ve been called a “kid-teacher;” I’ve been asked why I’m so short. And just the other day I was asked if I’m a “man” or “girl” because I was wearing slacks and a suit jacket. When I told Monica that I am a girl, she asked, “Teacher, then why you wear man clothes?”

I’ve even learned some new Korean words. A couple that have been extremely helpful are “morayo” (or “molayo”) which translates to “I can’t speak” in English. I say this whenever someone talks to me in Korean…Which brings up another point. I have gotten many funny looks when people realize I can’t speak Korean. A few times, I’ve been asked if I’m Chinese because it seems incredulous that a Korean person can’t speak Korean. A couple of times, cab drivers laughed and muttered who knows what.

I listen to the Korean streaming all around me, hoping that something will click, that somewhere in the recesses of my memory, the language will spark and I will start speaking flawless Korean. I strain to extract phrases, but it’s very difficult – as it is for any foreigner in a new country, the language sounds like gutteral fireworks with changing intonation, a sort of fluid hieroglyphics.

I have also learned the word “yogi,” which I picked up by listening to the only 2 students in the 5-yr-old class talk to each other. It means “here.” Some others are “chongee” which means paper, “anyo” which means no, and “anjah” which means sit.

Give me 5 or 6 months, and I’ll learn an actual phrase. :)

Some of the kids have really uncommon English/American names. Of course, you have your handful of Johnny, Alex and Alice. But then there are names that I have never even heard of, like:

  • Annika – she’s sweet & quiet and barely says a word
  • Gelasio – he’s round-faced with a Bruce Lee haircut and likes to tell jokes (no longer goes to Bandi)
  • Vico – he’s super cute and always shares his snack
  • Odette – she’s cute & sweet, and told me once that another kid thought I was “scary teacher but no smile” (meaning I’m not so scary when I smile), so now I make a special effort to smile
  • Leo – he’s often in his own world, but he is a sweet boy
  • Solomon – one of the youngest students, likes to pretend he’s “angry tiger”
  • Joy – he has a wavy mop-top and is very cute. one of the brightest in his class, but never says a word
  • Red – he’s one of the loud ones in class, but very bright

All of the students are preparing for the end-of-the-year concert. The school year closes at the end of February in Korea. So we have been practicing our songs – “Bippidy Boppidy Boo,” “L.O.V.E.” and “Doe a Deer.” And of course, there are cute hand movements added in for entertainment. It wouldn’t be a real show without dancing!! (and me dressing up like a bear for the 5-yr-old’s play of the story “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt“).