Saturday, July 9, 2011
I'll be leaving Korea on August 25th for one year - more on that in future posts - and this means that next Friday will be my final day of regular classes at my school.
As I've noted a few times of late, things have been a challenge in that there place, but it hasn't been all bad. This past week I had a fair amount of downtime, which I actually felt quite good about - using it to get a lot done in regards to my summer camp planning. Desk-warming periods don't always result in productivity, but I'm grateful that I was able to get a lot out of this past week.
Supervising exams has also been interesting - well, not "interesting", but eye-opening at times. I learned recently that exams in the first two grades of middle school mean absolutely nothing in terms of applying to high school. It isn't until the 3rd year of middle school when finals mean anything other than a source of pride or applying what one has learned in the class to some form of measurable exercise. For some, this means a lack of sleep and hair-pulling. For others, whom I watched with my own eyes, this means accepting the test in-hand, randomly crossing-off answers, placing those answers from the test paper onto the computer scoring sheet, turning their paper over and going to sleep - before all of the students have received their test paper. I watched one particular girl go through this routine for three straight periods. She'll have a one in four chance of getting her 20 multiple choice questions correct, and a 100% chance of getting all of her short written answers wrong. That means failing grades in Math, Chinese Characters, and Music. But she's only a grade 2 student - so who cares?
Anyway, exams are done. I'm mostly ready for summer camp. A Single Shard is a beautiful little novel and I'm thinking I'll be buying some little celadon pottery vases with a piece of our prize budget - as opposed to the jigsaw puzzles and frames I've given the last couple of camps. The novel is well-beyond the reading ability of the majority of my students, so they will be reading 3 chapters per day in their Korean version of the book, and then answering a series of comprehension questions and studying 6 vocab words per chapter in English with page references to their English copy of the book. Gotta do what I gotta do - without the Korean version, the English one would unfortunately be worth very little to my students.
Where was I... oh, yes... the reason for this post was to tell you about a great souvenir I picked-up yesterday. My school's been a challenge of late, but I will miss it - and I might just mist-up a bit when it comes time to say goodbye to a couple of the students I've known for 2 and a half years. Next week, I'll be wearing my brand-new S******** Middle School boy's summer uniform shirt - made specially for me by the ajushi who runs the uniform shop by our school. He makes uniforms for only two schools, but there are over 1200 students in each, they are growing fast, and they need two seasonal uniforms each year. He must be doing okay.
He gave me a deal on my specially made shirt - 25,000 won as opposed to 30,000, and the name-tag was made for about 50 cents.
The name reads Shim Tae-seong, which is the Chinese version of the more uniquely Korean Shim Han-byeol - both of which mean "Great Sun". I may have blogged about this way back in the day, but the name's origin is shared between a good friend and a favourite essay topic assigned to my hagwon students in my first year in Korean. Shim (심) is the family name of my good friend and Korean sister (Shim Misun, AKA: Tanya) and she honored me by asking me to be her brother almost three years ago.
The given names comes from Sally - whose essay on the subject of "choose a Korean name for Teacher Dave" moved me. She said that I was "like a sun shining on the students' life road." That is certainly a bit much, but it's praise I'll do my best to humbly accept in the form of a Korean name that was stitched into a blue patch, and subsequently sewn onto my shirt last night by a kind rabbit.
I'll be wearing the shirt on my last day of school before summer break. I'm debating whether or not to tell the students that I'll be leaving. I'll let you know what I decide at the end of next week.