You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mr. Kim asked me on Thursday night if I wanted to go to Jeju-do for LIKE's English camp on Sunday. I mumbled a "yes" and a "thank you." I was told to show up at the airport at 7. I assumed this meant 7pm. Wrong. 7am. Fully packed and ready to fly.

Jeju is like the Korean version of Hawaii, at least that's what Koreans will say when asked. It's quaint and on the ocean, but it's not Hawaii. We were on the south end of the island. Everything that one would possibly want to do or see is on the north end.

Either way, my job and the job of a fellow English teacher(Sandy, an older woman who's an American citizen, but she grew up in England) was to essentially be a camp counselor. No problem. One thing I'm actually good at is making Korean children laugh as long as I don't have to get through a lesson.

Important note: Two months ago the Kims asked Fat Brian to go. I guess the children complained to the parents who complained to the Kims because Brian got bounced at the last minute for Mattu-sam. Seriously, nothing made me smile more than getting to piss in that moron's fucking coffee. He's obnoxious, rude and behaves inappropriately with some of the older students. I can't figure out how he rationalized it. Maybe he thinks that I begged the Kims to let me go or maybe he thinks the Kims want him to focus more on his regular classes. Either way, I think we're mortal enemies now. Is it wrong that I can't stop giggling about this? Can I put this on my resume? It's my understanding that the kids requested that I come. Not because I'm a terrific teacher, I'm not. I freely admit that the Fat Idiot is probably ten times the teacher I'll ever be, but the kids seem to enjoy my company and they're not intimidated by me. Most of them want to talk to me and want my attention. They seem more willing to attempt to speak English with me than some of the other teachers. Maybe I'm not that useless.

The flight was uneventful. It's like flying from St. Louis to Chicago. I had to sit next to Mrs. Kim and the middle son, Hee-dal. They had about as much interest in talking to me as I did in talking to them. It was a quiet flight.

Most of the kids on the camp were from my school and it was mostly the cool ones. No douche bags or shitheads here. Some of the boys were a little rowdy, but there weren't any horror stories. In fact I had great time and I believe most of the kids did as well.

After the flight, we loaded the kids onto a bus and headed to a dolphin show. It was actually fairly entertaining, albeit very short. Then, we headed to a botanical garden for lunch. The only problem was that there weren't any restaurants at the garden. The kids packed lunches and shared some with Sandy and I. I bought a couple of tubes of Pringles and some chocolate for dessert just to make sure the kids didn't get shortchanged. The garden was the closest we came to having an incident. The boys were chasing each other and knocked down a couple tourists. I was just hoping the tourists wouldn't slug the nearest teacher. Also, there were other foreigners at the garden. All of the kids assumed that since I was a foreigner, I knew the other foreigners. One of them(a guy named Bobby) and I had some fun. We told the kids we were brothers. Bobby was a black guy.

After the garden we went to a place called Mini-Mini Land. It's like a mueseum of famous buildings, except they're all 1/12 the size. This was probably my favorite spot. There's nothing more fun than standing over a miniture Kremlin with my arms crossed or headbutting the Taj Mahal or pissing on the Eiffel Tower....Okay, I did make the last one up.

We stayed at Mini-Mini Land for about an hour and headed to a Teddy Bear Museum. If any place in the world would have a teddy bear museum, it would be Korea. It was painfully cute and about the least hetero thing I have ever done. Let's just say that if Ronald Reagan, Carlton Fisk and Chuck Norris met for lunch(this scenario is too cool NOT to have happened), the Lotteria at the Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju, Korea is the last place they would go.

We finally headed to the Kims' property around 5pm. The kids unpacked, settled in and ate dinner(all the food we had was Korean, fresh and delicious. The Kims might not spend cash on the school, but they went all out for the camp). Mr. Kim had the kids write an English travelogue. He wanted to start the travelogue with "On my summer vacation I....." I asked what I could start with since I was working. He gave me a look like I had just handed him a dead fish.

After English class, we played some more games and then tried to get everyone to sleep. Sandy and I were given our own room and weren't bothered when we were sleeping. Sandy got the bed and I took a futon that was designed to make humans sweat as much as possible.

It was strange seeing the Kim's actually act like normal human beings. I've always assumed that Mrs. Kim plugged in at night because she is a robot. She was actually nice for once. Mr. Kim was fairly normal for most of it. He was about as interested in entertaining children as a sixty year old man can be.

The second day was spent at the Kims' beach house on Mr. Kim's fish farm. We were supposed to go to the beach, but it was pissing rain all day. So, we had to stay at the farm and just play games. This was actually a lot of fun. The kids taught me a couple strange Korean card games. Sandy tried to teach a few English games. I also spent time just goofing off and playing with the kids. It was a lot of fun.

Actual exchange:

Student: Teacher! You are ugly, stupid and fat!!!
ChildrenOfKorea /Laugh hysterically
Mattu-sam: ....I am not fat.
ChildrenOfKorea /Laugh hysterically
Student: You diving now!
Mattu-sam: Yes. YOU diving now!
Student: Nooooo! You!!!!
ChildrenOfKorea /Laugh hysterically

At one point six of them had me cornered. I fought the good fight. I tickled four of them to the ground, but the last two got the drop on me and whacked me on the spine a few dozen times with small Korean fists.

At night, Mr. Kim brought out the karaoke machine. He can fucking sing. He brought down the house, Leaf and Zwirb style, with John Denver's country road. Actually, all Koreans can sing. None will ever admit it because they are too Asian and humble, but all Koreans can sing. All of them. Singing room is as much a part of the national character as kimchi. I had to sing a song. I tried to pussy out, but I wanted to give the kids something to write about in their English journal, so I performed a solo of Billy Joel's Piano Man. I did my best, I know I suck, the kids know I suck, but the fact that I was willing to try made an impression on them. The impression was that Americans are tone deaf buffoons. Actually, they were all very polite and clapped for me at the end. I even got a prize :-).

We left the camp on Tuesday morning. Again, the flight was uneventful. It was a little sad to have the camp end as soon as it began, but I needed a beer and cigarette after three days of Korean children. The bottomline is I just hope the kids had fun. That's the reason I was happy to go. I think they'd probably have a better time with me than with the Fat Idiot. I hope they did.

I did remember to buy chocolate at the airport for Su-Jin and Manjiro. Both are happy to have me back in Daegu. 10 more days at LIKE, then its off to Pohang for orientation and my new job. This weekend will be one of my favorite memories of the past year. I just can't get over the fact that these kids are comfortable with a bizarre foreign prick like me.

Strange story of the week. One of the new foreign teachers got in trouble for pulling a girls' hair. I've taught the class that she had before. The girl that she did this to is not a troublemaker. I don't know all the details, but this is one of the worst stories I've heard. It happened in a drama class. I guess she wanted the girl to read louder and she wouldn't, so she pulled her hair. There has to be more to it than that, if there's not the teacher should probably quit now.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Leaf said...

Hooray for another successful Korean experience for Matt-sam!

It sounds like you're having quite the time there. Congrats on that dude. Here we are practically a year later. Damn man.

I picked up Madden 08. Vince Young is on the cover. It runs much better on the 360 than 07 did. Sellers and Zwirb both dominated me. I need to get better.

Sorry I talk about Madden all the time.

Football season is almost here!

9:24 AM  
Anonymous kidlee said...

I can't believe that you enjoyed camp! Did you play "capture the flag?" I can't believe that it has been almost a year.

12:27 PM  

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