Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flashback: Suji, South Korea

A million, trillion years ago I lived in Korea, working my buns off teaching English to good folks in a town south of Seoul.

When my younger students drew pictures of their homes, they'd often draw their apartment buildings.

My villa was located 2 blocks from my workplace. You can see it in this photo, the third building in from the left.  You can also see elementary school students doing calisthenics in the school yard across the street. Sometimes they'd practice fan dances while holding bright pink fans. I remember lots of school bells, announcements in Korean, and of course, lots of screaming kids day in and day out.

Summer in Korea is hot, humid, and smoggy. My boss realized his two foreign teachers may perish or find new jobs without air conditioning in their apartments. We came home one day to find AC units sitting atop our building's entrance with tubes leading through holes punched in our windows. 

I made a large amount of pasta, corn soup, and Mac and Cheese in this kitchen.  This is also when I became familiar with ajumma gloves, holla!  (Looks like I sported red ones back in 2000.)  I had a black and white photo of John Leguizamo strutting down the street and a postcard of a fresh faced Lee Jung Jae on my fridge.  I also had a picture of Vin Diesel in the shower, which I now think is slightly creepy.

A note about my bathroom.  The showerhead was hooked up to my bathroom faucet.  I activated it with the press of a button--a button I often forgot to release after my shower.  Many a morning I'd stand in my work clothes at my sink, ready to brush my teeth, and would get doused with water from my showerhead.

I loved my students. (Most of them.  A few five year-old girls made me want to throw myself into the Han River.)  Little Tommy, on the left, taught himself to speak near-fluent English.  He was allowed into the advanced class I instructed to kids who used to live in English-speaking countries. Martin in glasses was a pistol, and Liam in blue used to be shy when reading aloud, but noticably improved in the year I knew him.  He also wore two earrings, which was unique for Korean boys.  Jack on the right had a nice attitude and a great smile.  By now these kids are in college or getting ready to graduate.  I hope they keep their spark and passions and don't end up cogs in the system.