Friday, April 1, 2011

I Smell Like Apple Vinegar


...I really don't though. That's just what my students think because of how I choose to clean the desks in my room.

I figure that my students get enough exposure to various chemicals and radiation through yellow sand, cell phone usage, painted products from China, the mop they use on my classroom floor, and the treats they ingest on a regular basis. So, when it's time to clean the classroom at the end of the day, I utilize two spray bottled and some water-distilled vinegar that I bought at homeplus. It's better than some random cleaning product that's full to the bottle brim with hazardous crap. Since my students' faces traditionally spend a fair amount of time on the desk surfaces, it's best to have them cleaned with something non-toxic.

It's also best to have the classroom furniture smelling less like far-away pine trees, and more like something repugnant enough to wake-up the sleepy-heads. It's kind of like putting tobasco sauce on the baseboard corner so a new puppy won't chew it again.

Anyway, pretty-much everytime students first enter my room in the morning, I hear this: "Ahhhh... Naem-sae!" (Ahhh... smell!). Sometimes, they even offer their observation in English: "Teacher - it is smell!"

"Yes," I say. "Smell."

"Dave smell", they suggest.

"학생 냄새" (student smell), I retort.

We chuckle a bit. It's routine, but it still breaks the ice. The best part is that the grade 1 students who don't have to clean my room and who don't know me well yet seem to think that the vinegar smell that wafts from my door after school while floors are being mopped and desks rearranged is actually the personal odour of yours truly. I can hear them talking about it as they walk by my room, and when they notice me watching them covering their noces and making faces, I have now a couple of times been guilty of making a show of smelling my armpit area - surely that's where the smell comes from , right? They run away giggling and screaming - likely all the way to report that their new school's new 원어민 선생님 (Native Speaking Teacher) has a stench akin to food garbage.

It's not a stretch. In my time here, I've been told that foreigners smell like milk, beef, and cheese. Also in my time here, I have encountered (and worked with) foreigners who smell like some pulpy substance that has been coaxed from the fetid corpse of a dying elephant. I also can vouch for the fact that a small percentage of Koreans (mostly of the older and less-vibrant line 1 variety) can from time to time smell unmistakably of garlic, kimchi, and soju as it combines with the sweat oozing out from unwashed pores.

None of us are completely immune from smelling less-than clean from time to time, but here's hoping that the grade 1s will give me the benefit of the doubt.

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