One Year–Two Jobs

Once a year in Korea, the students give presents to their teacher’s in honor of their tireless struggle to enlighten and educate the young minds of the future. In my kindergarten and elementary hagwon, I got a few notes and a few little presents, nothing like Christmas, but still satisfying. Even if the students were forced to give gifts by their parents, it is nice to receive things handwritten in childish script. Ones that say: “You are handsome and strong,” “I will work harder for you,” “Thank you for being a great teacher,” and the classic, “I love you.” Continue reading

First Grade Moments

Today, my favorite student (any teacher will be honest and tell you they have a favorite) shocked me again.  Olivia is the happiest little lark I’ve ever met.  She is about 5 or 6 years old, never frowns and has a bright round face with a perfectly infectious smile.  She used to call me over to her table, “Teacher, teacher, come here.”  She’d motion with her hand as if she had a secret to tell and look at her feet trying to remember why she’d called me over. Continue reading


“I don’t like him.” It hurt me to hear that; and I was completely unprepared how to stop the feelings from being hurt. The other boy quickly replied (unconvincingly), “I don’t like him either.” I could see from his drooping head that he felt sad. Kids are not nice, they don’t need to pretend they like someone because they work with them, or live near them, or have mutual friends, or need something from them. Kids tell others how they feel, when they feel it. They are filter-less, emotional creatures with terrifyingly simple opinions. Continue reading