The Korea chapter of the life and times of Joseph Greenberg is over now. I left my heart not in San Fransisco but in the city of Pyongtaek, South Korea. I met and forged friendship with some fine and excellent people there. I have been traveling in Vietnam now for about a week now and I miss them greatly. Some are never far out of thoughts reach. I have sweet visions of a reunion at the Greenberg Acres Resort to have a pool party perhaps with some kimchi, gimbop and makeshift galbi. (with Charles in charge and Marsha aka "panama red" willing of course)
I will update this blog when I get back home to the states just before Thanksgiving. For briefer, less epic and novel like blog entries, check my myspace site blog at http://www.myspace.com/47273434
My Korean Heroes
I have one more day of teaching in Korea. I have
about three weeks of physical time left in Korea, but only one more actual day of molding the minds of the east. I opted for three more weeks of unemployed and homeless existence in this land because I'm not yet ready to leave my friends here. That is an entirely different blog entry just waiting to be written and absolutely oozing with sappy sentimentality. Don't you just love how I get off track at the drop of a hat? My students love it. I prepared a lesson today talking about
the prepositional adjectives this, that, these and those....and somehow ended up talking about the different meanings and connotations of the word "jam" for about 20 minutes. The pronounced sound "jam" is the root for the word that means fun in Korean...so we discussed it. Enough BS.
One more day of teaching my little Korean heroes. My heartwarming, patience burning, mind vexing, furious rage inducing, disarmingly cute Korean students. They are so simple and uncomplicated. Holding complete sway over another (tiny) human being with a piece of candy is a feat that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lives. Its truely amazing. Although being young surely isn't a prerequisite
as I am sure it would work on Kristy Alley, Al Gore and perhaps my younger brother (get at me Zehar). It was with candy bribes that I was able to get certain "outside the book" lessons across. Lessons that included the introduction of words or phrases like "forshizzle," "shake and bake," and "its raining men." Random startling fact: Korean curse words that I have
learned far exceed the English curse words I have taught.
In the last 6 months I have seen these kids mentally and physically grow. I have seen English skills flourish in some, and have also seen promisingly studious kids become space cadets. I have made some students love me for my unabashed childlike zest, and have made fierce enemies out of a select few (some of the powerplant kids....something in the water is all I am saying). Children of any culture in any country of the world are just genuine, whether they are expressing affection or animosity. They are real. They are honest. This is in stark contrast to some of us grownups who simply are not.
In a not too distant conversation with my grandmother Jeanne, she reinforced her trust in me that I was being responsible in shaping and enlightening young and impressionable minds. It
kinda caught me off guard. I immediately had to question myself, am I being responsible with the time I have with these kids? Her comment was unprovoked, direct, and frankly a little out of place...but for all of those reasons it made me
appreciate it more. I giggled to myself for how much it took me aback. When that classroom door was shut and there was no administrator or parents in sight observing the lesson, was I being a good teacher? Were they learning from me? Every teacher has that lesson once in awhile where its all you can do to give them a crossword puzzle, or throw out a deck of uno cards, or organize an arm wrestling tournament. However, I
feel confident that in the long run their English skills were broadened, their behavior improved in civility, and their worldliness was increased (if only a little) from their interaction with an eccentric extrovert from Seattle, Washington. They taught me things everyday. I hope some of them remember Big Joe teacher...and if they don't that's okay too. They lent me their hearts and their minds, and for that I will remember every single one of them for the rest of my life. Class is over now for this teacher, and in the words of Alice Cooper, school's out for summer.