Despite following a regular timetable this week, classes are currently little more than glorified babysitting. My first grade lessons are fairly easy considering I only see the students twice a week and genuinely like the classes; my second graders, while generally more of a challenge, have four lessons a week. They’d already presumably given up on the English classes with me back in late November already and have just been biding their time with me until they are officially third graders and no longer subjected to classes with the foreigner. Unfortunately, I’ve been biding my time too so this unexpected week of classes is just too much. I’m happier than words can describe when my fantastic co-teacher tells me that it’s okay to just let the students watch a movie in this week’s lessons – enter NZ2 and his array of comedies.
I settle on Get Smart which the boys seem to really enjoy despite our inability to get the English subtitles working in the lesson. As a result, the movie is played without subtitles and despite unexpected valiant attempts from most of the class, it’s too much for many of them to cope with and they resort to doing other tasks – I’m not going to fight them on this point this week and, in all honesty, I’m impressed they last as long as they do. That was yesterday. Today, it’s a struggle just to get the dvd to actually play.
As I wrestle with a computer more stubborn than my students, I become aware of constant movement outside of the classroom in the corridor – just beyond my current visibility. I see a couple of my students apparently communicating with someone outside the classroom and a few of them call me with big grins as they point to the person outside the room. All I can see is someone wearing a brown jacket who keeps moving behind the pillar every time I look up. Some students call me over and as I walk over to their side of the room, they start telling me not to worry while watching the person in amusement. I’m confused. Still struggling to get the dvd to play, a student finally offers to do it for me and curiosity gets the better of me. As I head to the door, curiosity seems to get the better of the other person too as he peers through the window panel of the door, grins a familiar cheeky grin and rushes away leaving me more confused than ever as to what Six-pack was doing for the last 10 minutes and what my students are saying in hushed tones about “English teacher” and “waegook”.
Hello Again....and again and again
The lesson passes quickly and I soon find myself back at my desk. It seems today is a day for running into Six-pack though as I step out of my office to find him arriving for his next class which is directly opposite my office. He rushes into the safety of the classroom, a sanctuary where he can hide comfortably behind students. I don’t think much of this coincidence as I go about the rest of the period doing things I need to do. However, when I again see him at the beginning of the next lesson (when he doesn’t actually have a class of his own), milling around outside of my next class, I can’t help but start to wonder if I’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone by mistake. I’m doubtful that the last three encounters with him in three hours have all been lucky coincidence – particularly as he ducks into various rooms whenever he sees me in the corridors.
Despite having seen him so many times already this morning, I’ve yet to greet him today so this is precisely what I do when I bump into him again on the stairs. He greets me with the familiar cheeky grin and a low bow, looks me up and down with a grin and then continues on his merry way for the day. As I head back to my office, I can’t help wishing for perhaps the thousandth time that I could be a fly on the wall that understands Korean and Korean culture – maybe then I’d understand the peculiar encounters I seem to have with so many of my colleagues.