With winter camp over for the freshmen, several of my Korean colleagues seem to have far more flexible schedules since only the first and second grade students are currently at school. NZ2 and I have only one class, the conversation class, for an hour each morning which we share. Without the distraction of regular lessons (and no Six-pack either), each day seems to stretch interminably longer than the previous one. This feeling seems to be mutual with many English teachers who seem to be whiling away the time surfing the internet, chatting and watching movies. Catfish is no exception.
I recently spent hours uploading hundreds of photos to my Facebook profile since my computer had been given problems. Since I’d uploaded over 2 500 photos over a weekend, I have yet to tag and caption all of the photos – in fact, I have yet to tag and caption any of the photos. Catfish undertook to this for me yesterday while desk-warming which shows just how boring this period of no lessons is for most foreign teachers. When Facebook told me that I had 41 new notifications from her – all relating to photos that she had tagged and commented on – I made the mistake of asking her if she had nothing better to do with her time. Her response was to send me 41 messages via Facebook in the three hours that she has to spend at school – her school is kind enough to tell her to go home early most days and not to come in on several other days. Admittedly, it did help to carve up the monotony of an otherwise tedious day.
The 'Hot' Girl
However, today’s conversation class provided some interesting insight into the thoughts of some of my students. In a class of 12 students, there are only three boys. We’ve tried to vary the speaking activities we give them in an attempt to make the lesson more interesting. One of the activities is called Bend/Sit/Stand. Simply put, three students hold a conversation on a given topic while posed in one of the three positions mentioned in the activity’s name and alternate positions each time the teacher calls “Switch”. It’s an interesting exercise in seeing who can talk consistently in an unusual and, let’s face it, rather awkward position at times. We decided to have the three boys do this particular activity and the girls were asked to choose a topic. Being teenage girls who are probably trying to work out how boys think, they naturally decided to make the boys respond to the sight of a ‘hot girl’.
Interestingly, the first thing one of the boys said was, “Look at that hot girl! She must be foreign!” When one of the other boys asked why she must be foreign, he elaborated by saying, “All hot girls are foreign”. Exactly what is clarified as ‘foreign’, I’m not certain but it was interesting to hear a male student openly state a preference for non-Korean girls. Of course, whether this is just talk and no action is unclear but the rest of the conversation provided a few interesting and insightful understandings into the Korean male psyche – at least, the teenage Korean male psyche! It was also really interesting to see how tongue-tied these boys were in having to talk about a girl they find attractive. One blushed profusely and even grabbed a hand-held fan to try and cool down his cheeks while all three of them seemed at a loss for words. I jokingly turned to the girls and said, “Typical boys! Speechless when they have to talk to or about a girl!” which seemed to just make them even more tongue-tied. Somehow, they manage to muddle through a highly entertaining conversation and NZ2 and I leave at the end of the lesson talking about how the boys in our school probably interact more with girls than boys at most high schools. University seems to be regarded as the time to learn social skills and how to interact with members of the opposite sex.
A New Friend
My afternoon passes slowly and quietly apart from receiving a very sweet email from someone I’ve never met. In November, my co-teacher asked me to help with the proofreading of a friend’s doctoral thesis. I’ve never met him or even spoken to him since all of our communication has been via my co-teacher. I’m slightly surprised to see an email from him in my personal email account but it’s such a sweet message that it really brightens my day. As I read the last line in the message, I’m transported back to primary school: Also, I want to be your friend if you want to. Looks like I’ve just made a new friend, somewhere in Jeonju, whom I will hopefully meet one day.