Oh, oh, oh. My boys are doing so good this week. I'm so proud of my third graders. They're all falling out of their seats to volunteer to speak in front of the class these days, mostly because I make a huge deal out of it when someone volunteers, going on and on about what big, strong, brave men they are. It's such a fucking far cry from the crushing timidity they had when I first started. They start asking before we've even finished the exercises -- "Teacher! I read on stage first today?" I'm not sure if it's to do with being more comfortable with me, or more comfortable with English. But either way, I'm one proud mama.
Also, the second graders and I have abandoned the book for the time being, and they're having loads of fun doing worksheets and speaking activities disguised as games. The only problem in those classes this week has been them getting too excited and shouting out the answers waaaay too loud. I actually got a standing ovation when I walked into two classes. Granted, one had a high population of students from my good after school class, who knew they were in the shit with me for being a bit unruly on Thursday. Still. It's always nice to feel loved.
The good news is, according to Coteacher, there are absolutely no summer camps planned for yours truly. Now, I don't really mind camps. They're a nice time to get a lot closer to a few students. But fuck if they don't take a massive load of planning. And I'm pretty exhausted at the moment, looking forward to a bit of a break. Of course, summer will get two days in and I'll be moaning nonstop about desk warming and how I wish someone would just give me something to do....
Also, just because there are no camps planned yet, doesn't mean there are no camps. I've been here long enough to know that. Summer is still four and a half weeks away. I won't believe there are no camps until we are at least a week into summer proper, and I still haven't heard anything. But, I'm ready for that possibility this time around, which will make it a lot easier to handle if/when it comes up.
Been doing a lot of reflecting about the weekend, some on a more personal level, and some about a conversation I had with one of the macho Koreans. He told me I was really difficult to approach, because I seemed so close with some of the guys. At the time, I told him I was just shy and didn't mean to come off that way. He told me I should try to circulate more. But the more I think about it, the more those comments seem off base. At these events, I'm usually the only foreigner who's making the rounds at all. And the Koreans I seem close with happened because I was intermingling with Koreans in the first place. Also, every time I see these guys, I'm sure to talk to at least five or six new people.
I think the real issue lies with the fact that this group is almost exclusively Korean and foreign men, with a small peppering of Korean women, who mostly keep to themselves out of shyness, unless approached by some of the foreign men. And then there's me -- the sole foreign female. It's simply not possible for me to talk to every single Korean man who attends these events. But, from my view, I'm definitely the one circulating the most, making the most effort, and constantly pushing the other foreigners to get up out of our little white clump and go talk to new people.
There was also the bizarre question about preference again: "So.... uh... do you like foreign men? Or Korean men? Because you talk to both. I can't tell."
Well. I like men. What can I say?
"But you like Korean men?"
Well. As I said, I like men.
"Okay. We'll find you a good one."
And off he went.
I feel completely justified in being nervous about that statement.
Whatever. It's not a bad situation. As Small Town pointed out, I tend to end these evenings with a "veritable harem of men" around me. I'm certainly not going to complain about that. I don't particularly care for the feeling of being some sort of commodity within the group, however, whose diversification should be spread evenly, out of fairness. That's a bit much, if you ask me. I'm not the last bottle of Cass, or package of sam gyeop sal, after all.
Meh. I'm young. And I'm not going to worry about Korean men's (or anyone else's) perception of Western women while I'm trying to enjoy myself. I'm a fairly well-rounded adult, and one who works hard during the week. At the weekends, I'm going to enjoy myself. No matter what anyone thinks about it, in either direction. I don't pretend not to be able to drink, I smoke out in the open. And I talk to men -- as many men as strike my fancy in a given evening. Not more, not less.
And so it continues.
I do have to say, the boys officially spotted me with C in the neighborhood last week, and their reactions have been a bit priceless. When they see me with Mike, they make no short work of shouting, "TEACHER! BOYFRIEND? BOYFRIEND!" and insisting, no matter what my reply. But since word has been spreading about C, it's gone down a bit differently. As in:
"Teacher. You. Home Plusuh."
"Yes. I was at Home Plus. And?"
"You. Keu..... next to. You. Home Plusuh. Next to. Korean man."
"Yes. Me at Home Plus next to a Korean man. Wae?"
"Keu...... uh....... keu....."
"Uh... Teacher boyfriend Korean?"
Classic, boys. Very, very classic.