Thursday, December 10, 2009

1. Withertos and Wherefores

Raining and overcast!
The time has come to bid my students farewell once again, but this time I won’t be seeing them after the vacation, I won’t be seeing them again at all. One of my best students- ok she IS the best student in grade six, gave me a letter and asked me to open it right there and then. So I opened it in front of the class, subconsciously aware that they're all looking at me. They saw me smile, then they saw my bottom lip start the quiver and then they saw the water starting to well up in my eyes.. "That's very nice f you Soo-jeong, thank-you so much", they heard in a broken, crackling voice..

Never has that happened to me, but the effort this girl must've taken to have this letter perfect as it was.. and to convey so much meaning in such a small note... it really took my breath away. I was speechless.. didn't know what to say, as I stood on the verge of tears looking at nine twelve year old's all staring at me with big smiles across their faces..

I tried my best to do away with the emotions and told them that this lesson we're going to play game! All that day at my second school the fifth and sixth graders were coming up to me and finding ways to say goodbye, we’ll miss you, stay in touch, don’t go etc.

“Byebye Shiv” – sad face and crying hand gestures.
“Shiv WHY?” - sad face and crying hand gestures.
“very very goodbye Mr Shiv” – hugging her friend tightly.
“Mr Shiv, my SAD” – hugging my arm.

I’ve watched all of these children go through the everyday ups and downs during a mere 16 months of their lives. I’ve learnt so much from them..

I’ve learnt about children’s behaviour and how they can love and hate you all in the same minute. How they can get hurt and a short time later forget that it even happened; how they can be happy and laughing one minute and unresponsive and crying the next.. all because you tease them about having a girlfriend. I’ve learnt that at times you need to put your foot down and punish them, which this means I become the bad guy and I will be hated. But as I said before, that hate vanishes the next time you give them a little bit of positive attention.

Through them I’ve discovered how life should be lived; with an unfearing, wondrous awe. Even though things will get really tough at times and you’ll think that the whole world is against you, tomorrow will be another day, and following that there’ll be another, and another, and another.. I don’t see worries from the past within these children; they spend their days laughing and playing and fighting, they take all these things in their stride. It matters not if someone destroys their snowman; they simply get revenge and start building a new one, in barely 10 minutes all is forgotten no grudges are held.

Once I asked the children in the fourth grade to memorise a short dialogue that we’ll act out later on. They sighed and whined but with a small incentive they are all appeased. All bar one, one little girl who I’ve absolutely fallen in love with just sat there and said no. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to, she’s one of the smartest in the class, she spells words like ‘January’ and ‘watermelon’ in a heartbeat, but what I didn’t realize is that it takes her a little longer to memorise things. She sat there staring at the floor with tears rolling down her face. The clock chimed four o’clock and they left. The next morning she was one of the first I saw running as fast as her legs would take her, playing some sort of game. She saw me and stopped as quick as she could.. with a huge smile and her rosy little cheeks she yelled across the playground: “MR SHIV.. GOOD MORNING!!!” and then kept running.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve learnt a lot about life here in Korea, and a large part of that.. more than I’m willing to admit, is due to these little brats who play scissors, paper, rock as a religion!


Taj said...


Shai said...

Should have called the post Kraze Goes Soft =P