It's the end of the the quarter at the English Center and that means paperwork and goodbye snack party. Since one of the units with my 6th graders was about festivals, I let them decide on a festival--- they chose a food festival. Lots of extra work.
I invited other teachers to join in with their classes, but we've got two teachers who aren't so good at answering basic question. One in particular won't even look at people when they are talking to him.
For example, "Would you like to join the food festival?" resulted in no response.
So Mrs. Jin sent a message ten days before the planned event. If all the classes join in the school will provide for the budget. And since the boys were unlikely to chip in 10 bucks, "yes" or "no" important but alas, once again too complicated.
Though it's sad for the students if they can't join in, I was good with letting them do their own thing. Still Mrs. Jin wanted the students to participate, so she sent yet another message ( Teacher T and I were spending our own money on supplies by this point) inviting the boys once again. Actually, she told them to ask their students if they wanted to go... to which the students would say yes.
But that again was too complicated and one of the boys said, "I didn't hear anything about it until today." Bang head against wall. And he added, "It's no big deal. I'll ask them on Thursday."
This was on a Tuesday and the Wednesday is teacher training day, or in this case, finish a but load of paperwork day. Thus, Thursday is the day of the party. The class in question starts at 4:20 so he'd let me know on Thursday somewhere about 4:25.
To which I said a nice, but firm no. We're providing baked spaghetti and sandwiches, but the kids are going to bring a snack as well. So he wanted to MAYBE come with his class, none of which would have a snack because he didn't tell them. But Teacher T and I should prepare as if they are coming.
The other teacher, Birdman, still has his headphones in...he's even more ridiculous than the teacher above, but that diatribe is for another day or perhaps never. It's too, ugh. The main point is, he doesn't knowledge people, not when they talk directly to him about work or just to be friendly, not when they send messages and so I've no idea whether he plans to just show up tomorrow. Do I say to him today, nicely, but firmly that its too late to join, or say nothing? If he doesn't come, then nothing is better. But if he sends his students then what? Do we turn the kids away? They're kids.
Homesickness struck me quite suddenly and with unexpected for. I'm not homesick in the way of Dorothy searching for her Aunt Em. My rootless childhood, which is to say my mother leapfrogged from place to play trying to keep ahead of child services until I was fourteen and that all fell apart. Foster care left me a temporary visitor and anchor-less from then on. In some ways it was better. I could pack up and just go, which I did.
Starting over is exciting and good. Yet the novelty of leaving everything behind but the clothes you can squeeze into a suitcase gets old fast. These facts are part of the reason I settled so well in South Korea. It's not for everyone, trust me. And the things that you miss are unexpected.
Like last night I opened the tv website that lets people watch some TV while abroad and there was an enormous list of shows I'd never heard of. Suddenly there it was, melancholy and a sense of loosing my American identity. My identity is hardly Korean either. I can't speak Korean to save me life -the reasons are multi-fold, but comes down to commitment.
You know what I miss the most right now? Jello and pudding. Don't ask me why. Perhaps its a bereavement of sorts, a kind of nostalgia you might feel after looking at old photos. The feeling returned to me as I was riding my E-bike to work today, listening to an audio book.
But I realized even these acts far remove my Korean experience from others that come here. Because this is my life, a road less traveled since birth really. The melancholy will pass, but I may need to take a trip to the states just to be American for ten days... circle the parking lot until a space opens close to the supermarket instead of walking to the market like I do now. I'll only end up frozen in the isles of the mart-- choice stupor. Take cereal for example. I'll have fifty or more flavors compared to the five or so here.
Which will lead to another homesickness, this time for South Korea.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018