September 23, 2008

When in Korea . . .

It's 7:00pm on a Monday night. My students are late as usual. I slip off my Sketchers and pad up the stairs of this nunnery-turned-dormitory. Korean custom dictates removing your shoes before entering someone's living space. Since the upper room I teach in on Mondays is flanked by the rooms my female students live in, I dutifully attend class barefoot.

Around 7:25, Emily and Yuri come trudging in. They profusely apologize for being late and blame our ever-changing schedule for their tardiness (this excuse, though often-used, is still sadly plausible).

Yuri is missing her books. Emily looks ready for bed. To rouse them, we play an old verbal game from my childhood:

My name is Ashley
My husband's name is Al
We live in Albany
And we sell apples.

The names change for every letter of the alphabet and before long, both girls are giggling and wide awake.

At break time, Emily offers me a sample of a Korean soda named "Milkies." She's surprised when I like it (tastes a bit like our cream soda); then she promptly pulls a Japanese soda (called Ramune) from the fridge and pours me a glass.

When in Korea, right?

Mondays are oddball nights for me because I only have two students. Wednesdays and Fridays are much more lively because my class increases to six, with a proper mix of boys and girls, and we all have a good time.

But even though our class schedule continues to fluctuate like stock on Wall Street, Monday nights show no sign of changing. So I'm back at the drawing board, trying to come up with new ways to keep my students interested.

After all, we can't drink foreign sodas and play American Girl-inspired games every Monday, right? Even if we are barefoot . . .

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