Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Thursday night, two of my favorite teachers (one fifth grade and one kindergarten) in the school took me out to dinner with their kids (the two first graders I tutor, Park Jin Woo and Jeon Ju Ah and the younger sister of each--so 4 kids total, sorry if that sentence is confusing). We went to Pizza Hut and ate tons of wonderful cheese on pizza and on spaghetti. It was really nice to get to talk to them--the fifth grade teacher speaks English fairly well and she could help the kindergarten teacher and me communicate--and realize that my co-teacher's not-so-great-ness does not extend to the entire school. Even though Sohn Hui Jin (co-teacher) speaks English much better than the two of them, I can't talk to her as easily because she doesn't try all that hard to understand me or make herself understood. If something is difficult to convey, she'll just give up rather than embarrass herself or go to a lot of trouble. With these two teachers, sometimes our attempts at each other's language made us all laugh, but we always ended up understanding one another. They had tons of questions and we talked about me, America, Korea, teaching, current events, their kids, and school gossip--I really felt connected with them, something I'd previously really only felt with my students, non-mom host family members, and non-Koreans.

Even though we had been at Pizza Hut for hours, neither teacher was ready for "ending." Instead, we went to a traditional tea house and drank hot, thick, sludgy sweet tea with pine nuts and shavings of something floating in it. It was mostly good but a little weird. They also ordered me an orange milkshake (try not to be fooled by the term 'milkshake,' as there was definitely no dairy involved) because they were worried I might hate the strange tea. The tea house was a pretty little building made and furnished with fragrant wood, with dim yellow-y lighting from paper lanterns. The doors were sliding screens of painted paper and the whole thing was full of traditional pottery and other tea implements for sale. It was very picturesquely Asian and romantique. Jin Woo was kind of tired by the time we got there and felt left out by the girls (he's the only guy of the 4), so I spent most of the time there playing with him. He's this cute little guy with glasses who looks like the perfect nerdy model student...although in actuality he HATES having to have English tutoring 3 times a week. I discovered that despite his disdain for the alphabet, Jin Woo absolutely loves to make lists of numbers. He wrote number after number in a random notebook someone had left in the tea house, squealing with glee whenever we got to a new decimal place. It made him really happy that I, an adult, was willing to watch him write his numbers and seemed as excited about it as he was...after a few pages he had cuddled up against me and would catch his breath and anxiously look up at me for a reaction before writing each new decimal place, and then giggle and squirm when I obliged. I wonder if this will have any affect on tutoring next week.

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