Morrie makes em cry

27 06 2013

today is mid-terms today at Samsung Engineering’s English camp.

my student Eric started crying in the middle of his oral interview. again, we are reading Tuesdays With Morrie with a new group of students. Eric drew this discussion question:

“Who is Eva? What does Morrie gain from Eva? What did you gain from your mother?”

If you’ve read TWM, you know Eva was Morrie’s stepmother and the first person to show him love. Eric, I think, suffering from lack of sleep, exam anxiety and sudden remembrance of his mom, was defenseless. His face contorted and his eyes welled up, and you knew what was going to happen next.

He talked about how his mom taught him about love and sacrifice. His father retired early, so their family didn’t have enough money. His mother found a job at a restaurant and woke up every day at 5am and returned at 11pm, so the children wouldn’t be burdened by having to work.

Eric cried for about 10 minutes. He apologized and said he was surprised by this sudden emotion and remembering the restaurant. Eric said many times he’s wanted to visit his mom in Busan and doesn’t know why he hasn’t. I suggested he try to remember this feeling, even when he gets busy and to call his mom to thank her today.





girls best boys in Incheon elementary school

18 12 2012

One day of teaching elementary school kids, and I’ve got phlegm.
Thank you, you little germ factories.

I’m substitute teaching 6-8-year-olds in Incheon this week.
This was my first experience teaching teensy weensies, and nobody died. Exhale.

They each have an English name, and we’ve even got a George, a Brooklyn and a Percy. “Simon Says” was a crowd pleaser, and we played Pictionary and obstacle course games that tied in their vocabulary. I can say that if Koreans are the most competitive people on the planet, that train has left the tracks by the time they reach first grade.

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Surprisingly, I found the girls way meaner than the boys.

Of four classes of 1st or 2nd graders, my all-boy class was the best behaved. Boys in mixed gender classes however, were over the top. John started class by theatrically writing “STUPID JENNY” on the white board. Boys in my other classes ran across the room to slap their girl classmates playfully on their arms.

But where the boys were guileless, the girls were crafty witches. I see why we have movies like Heathers and Mean Girls.

During introductions, my 6-year-olds said, “Hi, my name is so-and-so. I like blah-blah. I don’t like yadda yadda.” Jane started a trend by ending her self-intro with, “I don’t like Derrick.” One-by-one, every ensuing girl in the coven class ended her introduction with, “I don’t like Derrick.”

We played hot potato with my 7-year-olds, where you pass a ball around and answer, “My favorite _____ is ______.” When we got to colors (e.g., “My favorite color is pink.”), the girls conspired to pass the ball between themselves over and over again, so the boys had no chance to answer. Not a word passed their lips in either game, yet the girls united against the boys. Those poor boys had no response.

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Lea aka Heather

My favorite conversation of the day was with my 8-year-olds.

I used to think sharing personal information could lead students to be biased, given their cultural references here. Now, if a student wants to know my age or tax status, I tell them. I think these could be teachable moments but of course, I could be wrong.

Lea:     What centimeter are you?
Me:      183.
Lea:     How old are you?
Me:      39 in Korean age, 38 in American age.
Class: (silent wheels turning)
Lea:    Are you married?
Me:     No.
Lea:    Have you ever been married?
Me:     Yes. A looong time ago.
Lea:    (consults cell phone dictionary). You’re dee-vor-stuh?
Me:     Yep.
Lea:    Aren’t you sad?!
Me:     (smiling) No. Do I look sad?
Betty:  No. You look tired.