Friday marked the last day of Spring Term, and officially a quarter of a way through my year long contract in Suwon, Korea, at Avalon Langcon.
I’ve done so much, I’ve seen so much, I’ve experienced so much, and so many things have happened to me in these three months it feels like I’m living a life concentrated–like I’m just barely holding on to my sanity as each new day brings challenges and rewards.
I write a lot about the things I do, but at the end of the day, I’m an English teacher. And I can say that I truly do like my job. It’s hard. It’s tiring. It’s stressful. And I don’t get paid nearly enough. But every day I am rewarded with small things my kids do that make me “Mallory Teacher happy”. So, as the term ends and I start anew tomorrow with entirely different kids, lessons, and classrooms, here are two moments from each of my classes that I will always appreciate. Some I’ve written about already, but there are so many I just don’t have time to record, I hope you find them entertaining as well.
Monday, Wednesday Friday Classes
Compass (7 year olds)
1. So the vocabulary flashcards were, for the most part, made years ago by previous teachers and are stored somewhere in the back closet. I don’t have time in the morning to go through all of them, so sometimes the pictures surprise me. For example, for the “ph” sound, one of the words was “Joseph” (?). And some teacher a long time ago, chose a picture of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Dorothy 1 was like, “Mallory Teacher love Joseph?” And I said… yes I do.
And they all in unison broke into the Korean wedding anthem, and it took a good few minutes to get their attention back.
2. Apparently nobody told them it was the last day of class, so when we did feelings they all said Mallory Teacher happy. But when it finally came time to tell them my feeling, I said I was sad today, and all their adorable faces fell. “Why Teacher?” “Because today is the last day of class and I will miss you.”
It was quiet for a moment and then Harry yelled “I’m Mallory Teacher sad” and then they all joined into a chorus of Mallory Teacher sad and Stella A broke into actual tears and I had to change all their feelings on the board.
After class Dorothy 1 put a note in my basket, and I opened it up later.
Ninas (8 year olds)
Oh Mr. E and Mystery and Jully. They used to stress me out big time until I realized that it was just 40 minutes of babysitting every day and that’s not so bad.
1. Jully spotted a quarter sized moth on the wall and Mr. E ran behind me and I started laughing. The moth flew off the wall and headed towards us so he ran around the classroom screaming and for some reason it creepily followed him. He stopped, breathing heavily, thinking he was safe when it landed in his hair. I couldn’t believe it but he felt it and and he FREAKED OUT and I laughed so hard I almost started rolling on the floor. I mean, it was Mr. E. Our relationship is…complicated. And Mystery and Jully were laughing too…
2. By the end of the term, I was resorting to desperate measures to get their bookwork done. We moved the desks around into “islands” and there was “play island”, “study island” and “backpack island”. I turned into a cruise director and forced them all to give me tickets, which they promptly made, and gave a little speech about not jumping out of the boat, and tugged them all to study island. It worked except for Jully decided she wanted to be a shark instead so she jumped out of the boat and started literally biting Mystery and Mr. E while they were filling in the book spaces. When they finished I came back and tugged them to play island, where Mr. E made me this and I had to wear it the rest of class.
Telescope (9 year olds)
I am going to miss this class terribly. All 12 of them were so great and almost all of them participated. I don’t even have that many memorable moments because every day was consistently good.
1. Whenever I chose Jaden to choose an amount of points for the dart board game the entire class would give a “aghhhh” in unison because he always chose a minus amount, anywhere from -999 billion to -infinity.
2. On the penultimate day of class Lewis, the most loud and annoying one that I still love, ran into the office and said, “Mallory Teacher Friday is the last day?”
Lewis: *sad* He looked on the verge of tears “going back to America?” ”
Me: “no! I’m going to be here for 3 more terms. Are you coming back to Langcon?”
Lewis: *relieved* “oh good. I’m going to my grandmother’s house so no Friday”
And then he gave me a big hug and a tootsie pop and a gross black candy that I won’t be trying and went home.
Ocean aka hell class (10 year olds)
I’ve written enough about this class. Aiden’s rise and Emily chucking a gluestick at Kevin and losing their tests. Jenny and Judy crying when Jenny lost the telephone game. Jenny and Judy crying when Judy got hit by the hot potato. And on Friday, Rosa randomly burst into actual tears because apparently Aiden called her something really mean and they were both escorted out by a desk woman.
Navigation (12 year olds)
The class that Director assumed I could handle because I gave her syrup on my first day. It ended up being okay, as long as Secret wasn’t there. She was the bad egg and the days she was absent I gave an inward sigh of relief and I feel bad about it but I can’t help it.
1. The day my class felt like a cartoon. The boys were in the back making paper airplanes and throwing them at each other, and then one got stuck in Ferb’s bushy hair. And then Steven brought a chestnut out of his backpack and started chucking it against the wall which sounded like a gunshot because those things are harder than diamonds. And Secret and Lessen were making card houses.
2. Sunny and Eileen, who actually paid attention and participated. Eileen is doing a English speech contest this week so she asked me to record my voice for her on her phone. And on Friday she gave me this.
Pinta (11 year olds)
My ladies class. I will miss them dearly.
1. How every Wednesday we celebrated hump day and I brought them Pepero sticks.
2. How Rosa’s mom said Rosa never wanted to miss Langcon because of my and Morgan Teacher’s class, even when she would skip all of her other hagwons for the day out of stress.
Yay for MWF! And here are Tuesday Thursday.
Key (youngest- 6 year olds)
What started out as a break was taken up by a Key class with just one student (who I adore). It grew up to 5 students by the end of the term and we had fun times.
1. John shouting out random words from previous lessons when they didn’t know the flashcard. “Umpire!” “Octopus!””Rope!” And then one time when I said “sticker time” (they have stickers in the backs of their books) he would always shout “spaghetti time!” and it was funny I don’t know why.
2. Ron giving me a blank stare whenever I asked him his feeling. All the other kids could at least say happy but he just looked at me like there was nothing going on in his head. Eunhwa Teacher said he didn’t say anything in Korean either. But then the last week of school, HE SPOKE. He was annoying Hans (yes Hans, I also have an Elsa), but still I was happy to learn he wasn’t mute.
Ocean (10 year olds)
This was one of my favorites.
1. Thomas every single freaking day. “TEACHER DART BOARD GAME.” Yes Thomas, we have played this same exact game twice a week for three months now.
2. My EXO Next Door conversation with Amy, where we discussed our favorite members and she spoke more than the entire term. From then on, she even participated in the dart board game instead of sleeping! I didn’t tell her about our Dream Concert Chanyeol fanservice though for fear of retaliation.
Compass (7 year olds)
This class was okay for this most part. Kevin was more annoying than a fly buzzing around your ear and John was more annoying than a mosquito buzzing around your ear.
1. When Kevin randomly burst into sobs and I was extremely confused and he said something about “mul” (water) and he and John had to be escorted out by a desk woman. I made contact with Angel (the oldest and quietest girl) and she was covering her moth laughing so whatever happened was really stupid which I figured because it had something to do with water and I started laughing too which you’re not supposed to do when a kid is crying but I didn’t like him anyway.
2. On the last day of class, John turned into a giant blood filled mosquito and when I didn’t call on him for the dartboard game because I only call on “quiet people”, he threw an eraser at me when my back was turned and it hit me straight on the neck and it kind of hurt. Then all the evil kids started laughing and he pointed to his head and wiggled his fingers and said, “Teacher michoso” which means crazy and I flipped out and told them to do the rest of the pages themselves and no stamps today. At the end of the class, Margaret, who had nothing to do with anything, gave me a class apology.
Don’t worry the kids told Eunhwa Teacher what John had done and he was punished by Director. Director came up to me afterwards and was like, “John said he wanted to apologize after class but he couldn’t find you”
Santa Intensive (homicidal class–13 year olds)
1. One of the lessons talked about different types of cars and it talked about some having mahogany interior. Gu Jun Pyo asked what mahogany was and I said it was a type of shiny brown wood. For the rest of the term, when one of the questions asked to describe something (tomatoes, soccer balls, South Africa, all sorts of other random lessons) he would just whisper “brown mahogany”. He only said it once per class, and he didn’t yell it or insert it stupidly to get attention, so it was funny… every single time.
2. On the last day of class, we had 30 minutes of extra time so I taught them MASHO. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s a silly game that “tells your future” that all middle school girl love trust me. Proper Chris ended up as a lawyer living in a shack with 7 kids and a cockroach as a pet and taking the bus to work. Julie will live in a mansion and drives a ferrari (brown mahogany), but her job is chicken delivery and and she has zero children and a sloth as a pet.
Phew that’s all of them. So many memories, and I think I have some of my same students again but I’m really not sure. But I do know there will be more kids to love and more kids to strongly dislike.
And if we’re reviewing spring term as a whole, we have to talk about all the outside of work adventures I had. Seeing three Kpop concerts, getting fanservice from my favorite favorite, running into Got7 on my way to the bathroom, camping out for two music shows and failing both times, eating fried trout I caught with my bare hands, getting written up by Director, spending the night in a hospital and getting an MRI for food poisoning, wandering through a cherry blossom festival in the pouring rain, making bulgogi in a washing bowl for 75 people, and my bathroom flooding, which I don’t think I’ve written about yet so stay tuned for that ongoing drama (it’s still flooded).
I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop right now since I’m out of internet and there are many things to look forward to Summer Term.
Stay tuned for…
-New students, new stories
-Director relationship developments
-Apartment updates–hopefully moving out of the craphole that I currently call home
-Me getting into Music Core BECAUSE I AM DETERMINED
-Likely more kpop concerts let’s be honest
-Likely more random festivals let’s be honest
-And oh yeah, I’m going to Japan for 5 days at the end of July.