I’ve realized that in the entirety of this bloggy blog, I so rarely write about the kiddos that I’ve come to adore, and are the reason I’m allowed to keep living legally in this second home o’ mine. So, I’m going to take a hop skip and a jump a couple months back to the third 6th grade graduation that I’ve attended. In fact, this was my favorite graduation to attend, mostly because I really didn’t care much for this last batch of kids and was thrilled to get them out of my hair. Sorry.
That’s mean to say about kids, but I seriously never connected with them. That is, except for a good handful, a handful of kiddos that I absolutely heart swelled for.
Let me introduce you, shall I!
Here’s a group of boys from 6-2. This was their last lunch as elementary school students, and every single one of these boys was one of my faves, minus Eric in the left front. He’s a little bizarre. But the rest – sweet hearts, and actually pretty good at English for little monkeys.
As a teacher I don’t think you’re supposed to have favorites, but that’s a crock. I, along with every other teacher I know, has their favorites, and this one was my absolute favorite 6th grader. Olivia welcomed me to Nowon back when I first arrived by writing me letters and giving me little trinkets each time. She’d tell me about the boys she liked, the drama with her girlfriends, and the songs that made her cry. We were pen pals until about half way through her 6th grade year when I guess she grew up a little. But, though she stopped writing me letters, she always came to sit and talk after lunch.
Quite possibly my favorite thing about her is that she is totally well-adjusted and not into the super girly Korean way of *boing boing* selfie cutesy life. While her friends would come to hang out in my classroom at lunch and take a never-ending stream of selfies, she always kind of scoffed at their narcissism and told me how silly she thinks they are.
Now that she’s graduated, we are Kakao buddies. She’s always asking about makeup brands, the countries I’ve visited because she can’t wait to fly on a plane one day, and how to say and write things correctly in English. Love her.
I actually met her mother yesterday while leaving school, and she gave me the biggest hand shake and smile, and Olivia translated how happy her mom is that she had me as a teacher.
Kelly is a freakin smarty pants. She lived in Nebraska for a year when she was 4, and speaks English as if she’s a foreigner. She throws lots of “likes” into everything she says which sometimes made me feel right back at home. Super smart girl, and always curious about who I am and where I’m from.
This little Jack was my favorite boy hands down. When he was in 5th grade I knew there was something different about him. Anytime we did art projects, his were always excessively more creative than his classmates, and while he maintained the quirkiness, his English also skyrocketed. He has been to Canada once, and is obsessed with Canada. He’d come to my classroom a few minutes before class started and always ask to go on Google Earth to show me the little motel he lived in for a couple months while taking an English intensive course. It was a run down strip motel and it was like the happiest place on Earth to him. He’s also addicted to Apple, and asked me everyday when I was getting an iPhone 5S. When I did finally get one, he exploded into shrills of excitement and had me open my phone with the fingerprint over and over again.
Jack also got very excited when he saw me Skyping one afternoon. He showed me the Skype app on his phone and added me. Now I’m just waiting for the day I get a call while sitting in front of my computer hungover and Jack just wants to know why teacher just declined his call. Cute kid.
Here I am as part of their family. His dad is a designer, and everything made complete sense as soon as I met him.
These brothers are a couple of wild boys with ADHD, but in the sweetest, most fun way possible. David, on the right, always came to my class after lunch to just sit and talk about whatever. Nothing ever too special, but he’d come sit on the ground at my feet next to my desk and ask me questions and it was the cutest thing ever. And he is a jokester, and I love jokesters. His little brother Benny boy is in 5th grade now, and used to climb all over the desks as a 3rd grader. That is, until I told him “keep your butt in your seat or X!” Everytime I tapped my butt he’d giggle, but enough butt taps and X’s and his butt stayed firmly in that seat.
This tall little girl is Shelby, who’s English sucks, but who is sweet as can be. Every time in class she’d call me over to her seat just to tell me “Danielle Teacher love!” When we took this photo she hugged me so hard and just kept crying. Saying goodbye to me was the end of her world as we know it, obvi.
Oh my, John, the little red spectacled nerd stole my heart this year. When I first came to Korea, up until he was in 5th grade, he annoyed me so much. He is so smart, and he didn’t understand that I needed to give the other students a chance to answer questions. When he got to 6th grade he finally learned that teacher knows he’s smart. His English is through the roof, and he always came to talk to me about how much he loves Twitter and politics. Politics! He wants to be a computer programmer, and every Tuesday morning when I asked what they did that weekend, his answer was always “I build my computer program. It’s just demo but it is very fun to me!”
He’s a chatter box and is one of those A+ students who fully embraces any knowledge that is thrown his way. Any song we sang, John was the loudest singer. He thought my riddle about scrambled eggs was the funniest thing he’d EVER heard. During the Golden Bell competition, when he lost right at the end, it was as if his world came crashing down. He’s a huge nerd and the girls think he’s weird, which he is, but nerds will run the world one day. Watch out girls!
I wrote him a letter that I gave to him on graduation, and when I happened to be at the same restaurant that afternoon for lunch, he was so proudly reading it to his family. My heart just smiles when I think about this kid.
Last but certainly not least, I got a surprise visit from two of my all time favorite already graduated kiddos, who aren’t such kiddos anymore! You might recognize my now taller-than-me ex-6th grade boyfriend, Jinho, and my other peach, Max. I love these boys and was thrilled when they ran up and threw their arms around me.
Graduation also marked the last time I’d teach with the best co-teacher in the universe. Here is the last co-teacher photo of me clinging onto Jin’s arm. I love her, and probably would not have decided to stay as long as I have if I hadn’t been blessed with her awesomeness. Major sadface day.
So there you have it. I’ll leave you with this video of the group of girls who drove me insane all year. The condition of me being allowed to record this was “Teacher! No show anyone, ok!” Sorry I’m not sorry, girls.
5 thoughts on “Graduated Korean Kiddos Who I Love”
Hello! I just randomly stumbled (er, stalked?) across your blog. I’m leaving the US for Seoul to start a new teaching job in just a couple of days, and I could not be more excited. It seems like a lot of people have a mixed response, and it was great to hear that you like it enough to stay for more than one year–I’m hoping to stay for at least 2 years myself, probably longer if I really love it.
Anyway, just wanted to say hello. If you have any tips for a new ESL teacher, feel free to throw them my way! 🙂
Hi Holly! Thanks for stalking me! 😉 Where will you be teaching in Seoul? I’m assuming hagwon since you’re leaving soon to come. I work for the public school system, which is in my opinion the most legit job opportunity here, but I’ve also heard from others at hagwons who had good and bad experiences. I think it just all depends on the company. But, Seoul is awesome either way, and you’re also in the perfect location for tons of travel 🙂 I’m here for 6 more months (leaving end of August), but if you have any questions or anything about this wacko place definitely let me know! Safe travels! 🙂
I’m going to be at a hagwon called Avalon. I did a lot of reading online before accepting—it seems to be a chain of schools, so there were mixed reviews for some of the locations, but I didn’t find anything terrible about the one I’m going to be at. They also put me in contact with one of their current western teachers, so I think he gave me a pretty good overview of what to expect.
I am SO excited to travel! This will be my first time in Asia, so I can’t wait to just dive in!
Exciting! Asia is awesome! I was super against coming east at first, but now I’m obsessed with this continent, so great choice 🙂 Do you know what part of Seoul you’ll be living in?
Deungchon-dong? I’m not really sure if that will actually mean anything to you, haha. The address looks pretty much like nonsense to me at this point–definitely looking forward to getting my bearings and actually knowing what I’m talking about!