In a recent attempt to focus more on writing and documenting my travels, I’ve been reading up on writing itself…procrastination? Perhaps; but the most predominant piece of advice I kept coming across had all the hallmarks of a Nike add: start writing, and don’t stop. Just write. Just do it. In the spirit of keeping to this, here goes: something I’ve been thinking about recently.
I keep having images of myself in hotter climes, old ruins at my back, pen and camera in hand. In my most elaborate daydreams I’m an intrepid explorer and writer for National Geographic. In my less extravagant ones, I’m on an amazing vacation as a travel writer, and my editor’s constant nagging for copy can’t be heard because I’ve chucked my phone in the nearest ocean or sand dune (or maybe my phone’s just off because I hate those people in the movies who do that, that shit’s expensive; also, you’re littering. Get it together, throw a rock).
Regardless of the daydream I’m in, I usually look up from where I’m sitting and realise that a woman and her coffee date have been chatting beside me for the past half hour. They’re speaking Korean, her “date’s” a monk. I’m in Korea, and I’m already living someone’s daydream. Things happen almost on a daily bases that make me smile, and what more could a person ask for? But I can’t just leave this at such an overused cliche, so here’s a for instance:
Most English native teachers, including myself, have spent the past 2-3 weeks teaching at English Winter Camps. Yes, instead of enjoying their winter break these poor kids have to go to English class, disguised as “camp”. Having heard endless groans and a few complaints from other teachers – and having thrown in a few of my own as well – I was pleasantly surprised, astounded…ok, freaking flabbergasted to realise at the end of three weeks, that I was the one who had ended up enjoying spending winter break at English camp. Perhaps it was simply the fact that I got to spend time with elementary students who actually want to play all the games that make my middle schoolers erupt in “but teachah…” in various decibles of complaining whines; or maybe it’s the fact I was greeted with “Kat teachah! Meowwww” and hugs whenever I walked into a class (ok, perhaps it was a lot these things).
Whatever it was – and it was this, and so much more – I stood in the foyer of the Bomseo English Education Centre on the last day not wanting to see my kids leave, maybe as much as two of my girls kept running back for one more hug. Despite the merciless teasing another English teacher, Justin, got for saying he felt like crying when one of the boys tearfully asked for a signed “magic” card to remember him by, Justin’s sentiments reflected everything I felt. Kids, especially these ones, have the uncanny way of getting under your skin (and not in the oh dear god, it’s you way), and cleaning out a small space in your heart to set up permanent residence.
I have never before had the privilege of teaching kids with such enthusiasm; and sure, there were moments where I still wanted to tape certain amongst them to their chairs, but I wouldn’t have traded any of them (ok, most of them) for anything. And even though I had to watch them leave with the sinking feeling that it was back to my middle schoolers soon, I know that I’ll get to see most of these students again when Summer Camp (aka death via English and heat); and I can only hope that the “Go Bananas” dancing, balloon popping, airplane throwing, and superhero drawing will stick with some of the students as they grow up…and that when it comes their turn to go to Middle School, and their English teacher suggests a fun game, they’ll remember how much they liked it and instead of groaning or settling in to sleep, they’ll smile and say, “teachah! yeah! game!”. I hope I’m that teacher 🙂
And it’s when I have moments and thoughts like these, that I remember that I’m already living someone’s daydream; and that more often than not, it’s my own.