3.1 Spring 2021

March 31, Cherry Blossoms

Due to some unknown traffic fate, not a single one of my seven possible morning buses arrived for twenty minutes. I sat there as the bus stop slowly became more crowded and agitated.

By the time I finally got on, my ETA would be exactly when class was starting.

I accepted the fate and texted Yana with the PPT files.

But the bus situation was a bit like waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Yana did her introduction and review with the class and then asked if I had prepared for the book dialogue. Huh? What dialogue? There is a dialogue section but I hadn’t used it in my lesson planning.

She told me she was surprised but would do it, and I didn’t have time to explain what I had planned before the next students filtered in.

I felt so uncomfortable that I spent her sudden dialogue teaching time imagining myself at another job at a private school where I work alone and don’t have to worry about this type of miscommunication.

Between classes I quickly explained that I don’t usually use the dialogue and do another practice in its place, but I’ll be sure to download the book CD and prepare it for next time.

She had expected I would review the dialogue portion of the textbook and was caught off guard when I hadn’t planned anything for it—I usually go off script for lessons and hadn’t planned to use it anyway, but I think now she follows the book more closely than I do.

Having already arrived late, I felt particularly bad about the mix-up.

After class we tabulated exactly who would do what next week, and I think we both felt more relieved. Communication!

With Yana’s care, the students are getting better at writing, although their low level generally means a completely different vibe than that I have with the students of my main school. Or maybe it’s because at my main school, I teach alone and have the freedom to develop our relationship.

These kids have their own hopes and dreams, though, and I will support them! One boy in 6-1 handed me a homemade business card with a YouTube video name and “please like and subscribe”. He and other boys from the orphanage have been learning breakdance and the two teachers gave their crew a name and made them a YouTube channel.

Yana and I were amazed at their talent and she tried to show other teachers, who may have been a tad less interested. We’re both glad the orphanage arranged something like that for them, and I’m glad they have an activity they can work on together, and under an older male’s tutelage.

Just because they’re disinterested in English doesn’t mean they don’t excel elsewhere. It’s just a lot harder at this school where many of the students lack training and confidence in English, and carry those feelings with them to class. This is rarely true for my main school.

Yana asked the head teacher to bring extra headphones for my computer and I figured all was forgiven. Still, I didn’t want to overuse her charity and elected to turn down her usual offer for a ride—which has now extended to mornings as well.

I walked to one famous cherry blossom site and had to fight the Instagram couples and high school girls eating fried corkscrew potatoes. Since I had already walked twenty minutes, I figured I’d just walk all the way home. The other famous place was on my way back and I could check both off my cherry blossom bucket list before all the blooms fell.

An hour walk seems a whole lot shorter on the phone screen than in reality. I walked through old down town, then midtown, then a stretch of road next to an overpass with more cherry blossom trees, then finally home. The stretch was broken by a familiar face peeking out from a sedan.

It was Maria, my Colombian student. We waved at each other. Her brother bodily climbed over her to say hello, or just stare. I bowed to her mother driving in the front seat.

At the abandoned train station, Instagrammers abounded: two girls placed their pet bird (on a leash) on the branches to take pictures and another girl perched her cat (on a leash) on her shoulder to take selfies.

When I finally got home, after another detour to buy discounted Lotte Market sushi, I had been walking for nearly two and a half hours but the exhaustion felt good.

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