strange or silly stories from the past week that didn’t make it into any other blog posts.
A plane is moving at _ how long will it take?
(the chapter they are learning about is themed: how far away is ___ from ___)
“Teacher! How far away do you live!? How far away is the United States?!”
“uh… in kilometers?”
“Yes! Or, in miles.”
“uhh… I don’t know the exact amount. I know it took me 13 hours to get here.”
*student picks up pencil to write* “okay! How fast was the plane going!?”
“oh. uh. Can I just tell you next week?”
*student puts pencil down, visibly defeated and saddened.*
“okay….. you tell me next week! You don’t forget!”
This kid just really wants to do math.
We decide to go out to dinner one night. We hunt for a good restaurant for a while before we pick a chicken restaurant. The waitress was incredibly kind and came over frequently to make sure we could read the menu and that we had a good meal. She was very sweet.
But it’s when we’re paying our bill: I see it. The uniform for the restaurant is a bright orange, almost prison orange, button up shirt. It has the Korean flag on it and is trying to look militaristic. On the chest pocket is a Nazi eagle.
Uh. Okay. I whisper to Chris “she has a nazi patch” he initially doesn’t believe me. The “swastika” symbol is used frequently here to indicate Buddhism. So it’s strange to see it initially. But this isn’t the Buddhism “swastika.” He finally sees it. It’s a full on Nazi patch – the black and silver eagle with the round swastika in its talons.
We try to give them the benefit of the doubt – maybe (somehow) they don’t know what it means? They were going for a pretty militaristic uniform, and they sell chicken. Maybe they are also buddhist? If you found a bird-related militaristic patch that was pre-made and you somehow didn’t know about the nazis – I think you would use it and think you lucked out in the patch department. It’s got a bird – that implies delicious chicken. The swastika is like “hey, we’re buddhist friendly” and it still looks authoritative. I guess it really fits the uniform. You know, besides what it means and represents.
The next day at work I pull up an image of the nazi eagle and ask the nearest coteacher. He instantly says “yes, that’s a nazi eagle, why?”
I tell him about the Nazi Chicken (what that restaurant will forever be known as). He doesn’t believe me- and no one ever will. But mark my words, we’ll get a picture up here someday. You can kind of see the faint outline of it on her chest.
Teecha! You ugly!
We’ve discussed before what an eyesore I am and what sweet, sweet eye-candy Chris is. In fact, many of his students (female) have been very disappointing to know he’s already with someone.
Some first graders I’ve never seen before showed up and blocked my path to the staff bathroom.
“Teeecher! You pretty!”
“oh, uh, hi”
“I pretty. No I pretty!” she says.
“Okay.” Her three friends are laughing the whole time. “Teecha, you and I pretty!” she concludes.
“What about your friends, are they pretty too?” I ask.
She thinks about this, and then gets flustered. She didn’t think I would ask her anything.
“No teecha! You ugly!” She decides. She flips her wrist back and forth with much sass and gusto. Her friends laugh and then they all run away.
Alright. Whatever, I’m going to go enjoy the nice heated toilet seats in the staff bathroom.
You have been scanned!
Chris is walking down the hall when ten girls show up in front of him. The lead girl moves her whole head up and down over his chest “Beep beep beep! Beep! It is official! You have been scanned! You are officially handsome!!!”
Giggles, they all run away.
Face. Very small!
In the third grade class, the girls are working together to make a dialogue. One raises her hand as if she has a question. This is usually not for me. They raise their hands, and when I see them, they put them back down. It’s a strategic up-down-up-down hand raise designed to only get the attention of the Korean teacher (the question is in Korean, of course). So I’m surprised the girls want me. I go over, it’s not a question at all.
“Teacher, your eyes. Very big” – a common thing to say here, I’ve just never gotten it yet.
“Oh, well thanks.”
“But nose- ” I know, my nose is bigger, yes, yes, I know. She doesn’t know the words for any of this so she mimes a rhinoceros for a while until I help her out.
“But face! Face. Very small!”
“Really?” I pinch my cheeks out some, “it’s not big?”
She slaps my hands down and glares at me determinedly. “No! Small.”
Our school has no nurse. Surprise! But the staff room where I work (for all the 3rd grade home room teachers) has a first aid kit. Kids come and go constantly with all kinds of wounds.
For some reason I don’t teach a “club” where for most of the day on Wednesday, students go to mandatory “clubs” (I think “extracurricular classes” was what someone meant to say when they said “club”). I’m all alone during this time guarding the staff room, when two girls come in.
“Teacher. She stab me”
“Oh” I say. I’m not going to panic until I see scissors or a knife sticking out of someone. She shows me a small cut on her finger.
“Stabbed you with scissors?” I ask.
“No, with. Uh…” looks for the right word “cuticle scissors.”
“Oh.” Its great they know the word for “cuticle.”
“She stab me because she hate me”
They hug. “Just kidding” they say in unison.
Her friend bandages her up – no AIDS scare here. They tell me about the Korean new-skin sortof cream/glue they’re using while they work.
“So why doesn’t the school have a nurse?” I try to make conversation.
“Uhhhhhh” they think for a bit. “You know School Grandfather?”
“No.” Can’t say that I do.
“He the one who shake finger at you; say ‘why you late?!'”
“The security guard?”
“No. School Grandfather.”
They stop talking like that’s the whole story. I prompt for more, “soooo he’s the reason there isn’t a school nurse?”
A teacher comes in the staff room and shoos them away. I’ll never know why there isn’t a nurse or who School Grandfather is. I have a theory that he could be a “groundskeeper” rather than “grandfather”. But that still won’t answer the question of what he did to the nurse.
Mom made me do it
I get out of school and am walking to a coffee shop where Chris and I will meet up. A first grade student I haven’t seen yet is standing next to her mom. When I walk past, the mom shoves her daughter away towards me.
“Hi” she says
“Hi. How are you?” As soon as I ask I realize that’s what’s in their textbook – what I’m supposed to be teaching them next week.
She thinks for a second. “Not bad” Perfectly scripted. Exactly out of the book.
“Well that’s good. Where are you going?”
She thinks for a bit and can’t find the word.
“To Hagwon?” Most students are heading to their hagwons – after school/holiday academies. Some study until 10pm or later.
Her eyes get huge that I know “hagwon” but more importantly, we’re out of sight of her mom. Without saying anything she runs full speed across the street and down the block away from me.
Bye, I guess.
Not an Eyesore Afterall
I’m walking to the same coffee shop when four girls join me. I’m instantly bombarded with complements.
“Oh, red dress! Pretty”
(I have a belt on) “Like seatbelt?!”
“Ears” one grabs my ear. “Pinku!”
“What, what, what. Is that good? Thanks! What?” I’m overwhelmed by 4 people just yelling compliments at me.
“Pinku ear. Your ears pink!” The lead girl tells me.
“Is that good?”
“I don’t speak English!” She answers.
“Okay” I say.
“You love Chris?” She changes the subject.
“Yes.” I answer.
“You go to bus?”
“No I’m going home, it’s that way” I point.
“So why go this way?”
“Chris is this way”
WHAP! – I get punched in the shoulder, hard. “You do love Chris.” She decides.
While introducing himself last week, Chris mentioned the fact that he likes spicy food. Instantly he is bombarded with students suggesting he try a specific noodle. A few girls go so far as to tell him they will buy him some just so that they know he will try it.
Then today, they give him not one, but two packages. As he walks back to his staff room with the noodles a few Koreans see them and become genuinely concerned for his safety. As if he was carrying the napalm of ramen noodles they caution him not to eat them – “You’ll die!” “Most popular in Korea – but you’ll die.”
We shall see.