Monday, April 12, 2010

You are sick

Friday is the last day of our five day program, and at least for this past month, the most useless day of the week in the program. With this newest program which was thrown on us without forethought or preparation, we were given absolutely nothing to do with the students from 9 am to 11:50 am Friday. No book lesson, no theme class, we were simply told; spend time with the kids. So, most of the teachers, as we have no lesson planning time, watch a movie, basically finding something to fill the time until lunch. After lunch is the enthralling closing ceremony. It is a ceremony which is looked forward to with angst and excitement by the students. In fact, they love it so much, they spend the duration of the ceremony texting friends, playing games with their friends around them and generally not paying a lick of attention to the exceedingly tedious and interminable action on the stage. The only aspect of this formality that the kids actually cherish is the end, when we can say "goodbye" and they can once again say "hello" to their computer games.

Partially avoiding the overwhelming roar of the gym and partially answering nature's call, I rushed to the restroom before the ceremony last Friday, only to find that I wasn't the only one with the same idea. The teachers and students share bathrooms which in my opinion is humiliating. Who wants to hear their teacher peeing? I sure don't. And to top it off, the clique of girls grooming themselves and using the facilities not for nature's call but for gossip purposes proceeded in asking me questions as I did my business.
"Teacher? Are you teacher Kyle's girlfriend?"
"No, I am his wife" I responded from behind the stall
Amongst the oohs and ahhs I make out the words"Chincha?" (really)
"Yes really." I say, coming out of the stall to wash my hands.

As I am washing my hands, one of the girls with eyes wide and hopeful says, "Teacher, you are sick."
"I am sick?" I asked, confused as to what she is telling me. Do I look ill? I inspect my face. No green-ness or excessive paleness above my usual Casper complexion.

"You are sick." She repeats smiling like she has just paid me a compliment.

All of the girls are smiling at me willing me to understand this compliment.

And then it hits me like a hail storm from the sky!

"Chic?" I ask, "Do you mean, I am chic?"

"Yes!!" They exclaim.

I have them repeat the word several times after me so that in the off chance that they use this word with other English speakers, they don't insult someone else by calling them "sick."

This small scene put a smile on my face. Being called chic wasn't really what pleased me. Students called me beautiful everyday. They have few requirements for beautiful wagooks; small face (check), light colored eyes (check) and it helps if your nose is straight and juts out far from your face (nope- bulbous nose which lowers my beauty in their eyes). What I found amusing was how such a simple mispronunciation could illicit such an unwanted misunderstanding.

Some days Korea makes me want to scream, but other times it just makes me laugh. Thank God for the days it makes me laugh. It always provides material for a good story to share.


Karen said...

Ha, that's awesome Vanessa. What a lovely birthday post! I think that you're really chic too. :)

hummer said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.
You and your husband chose quite challenging area to teach in. I had a Korean family when I was a Public Health nurse in Houston. Their culture was very different, but they were a lovely people.

Lisa said...

hee hee....that is so funny!

Louise | Italy said...

How lovely to receive such a compliment.