Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Too Cool for This School

Last week, my English academy had a party for the kids.  Instead of regular classes, the kids got to have fun for a change!  This was a rare opportunity to see Korean children at play.  Normally, they attend up to 14 hours of classes each day, so playtime is not a naturally-occurring part of their lives.  For foreign teachers (the donkeys of the academy), this simply meant two more hours of work setting everything up.  In all fairness, once the heavy-lifting was over, some of the Korean teachers did lend a hand.

Several of the rooms in the school hosted carnaval activities for the kids: ring toss, face-painting...and even snacks were handed out.  I liked this (even though I couldn't eat them) because usually my kids are starving.  "Teacher, hungry," they plead over and over during normal class days because their parents have not allotted them enough time in their school days to enjoy a meal. 

Melissa Teacher is our Fingernail Fairy

Captain Kris and the Warrior Kyoung Teacher

Sparkling Sue Teacher demonstrates the Korean obligatory-picture-taking-peace sign and tosses back even more caffeine while Warrior Kyoung Teacher shows off her super-human speed.

More pirate hats and peace signs from Christina Teacher.

Esther Teacher might finally fly away, taking English Teacher (who can't tell me her name because she really doesn't know any English) with her.

To ensure that we kept up the pace, the school mandated a ration of energy beverages.

Painted, caffeined-dosed, and butterfly-antennaed, I'm ready to get this party started!

In two larger rooms, the kids got to spend "talent coupons" on school supplies and toys.  The coupons are awarded to the kids in class when they are very good or excelling at their studies.  Generally, though, the coupon's actual purpose is to bribe the kids into not being little shits for 40 minutes.  Hey, whatever works!  Right?

I was assigned to the cheap 10-talent toys: flashing rubber balls, hair clips, toy cars...The most popular, to my surprise were pocket hand-warmers.  You know--those little pouches that heat up for 20 minutes when you pop the inner disk.  I can only imagine these being used by hunters or casual skiiers, but apparently, they are super cool to Korean kids.  Since, I was assigned to the cheapest and blingy-est toys, you can imagine how swamped I was!  To add to the mania, the children were not encouraged to speak English for this event.  In fact, I was discouraged by the Korean teachers for encouraging the English students to speak to their crazy-backwards-thinking-American English teacher in English.  Despite all this, the kids looked so cute.  For some, it was the first time I've seen smiles on their tired little faces.

L to R: Tiny little Alan (piano genius), Rick (notice the peace sign), and Alex (just beaming in from outer space).

Toy table

At the end of 6 hours of "selling," the Americans cleaned up while the Korean teachers went to the academy dinner thrown to show the academy's appreciation for the hard work put in to throw the party.  Needless to say, we foreigners weren't invited.  In fact, we are never invited to company dinners.  Just as well...because after cleaning, I had to put in another 5 hours on my feet teaching middle school kids before going home in utter exhaustion to inhale a pack of ramen through gritted teeth and trying not to cry in frustration as I passed out to a download of Project Runway.

Forgive me, this place inspires major drama! 


  1. Oh shit!
    I love this snarky post.
    I love you and just want to say
    "As you wish"

  2. I used to love the toy table and getting fake money to buy stuff for being good. I can't believe you have to work so much - and with such a lovable crowd! sorry -