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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sometimes it takes a 7-year-old to remind you of your position

You might recall that I've blogged before about the stresses of teaching orphans. They manage to simultaneously break my heart, frustrate beyond words and create an intense desire to adopt a Korean child. It's an odd trifecta of emotions.

This week they are back and cuter, if not more mischievous, than ever. About 120 first graders, full of gap-toothed smiles, raggedy hair and way more energy in their little fingers than I have in my entire body. It's like running a marathon every day just trying to keep up with these whirlwinds.

As usual, it's hard to find the proper balance between compassion and discipline. It's difficult to remember to be kind when there are fights breaking out left and right, children crying for seemingly no reason all over the place and sharp objects flying across the room and hitting other kids in the face. Yep, it takes some self-restraint not to start screaming sometimes.

But then there are moments that make me smile. Like the kids who whenever they see me, come over and hold my hand. It doesn't matter if it's break time or the middle of class, their vise-like grip requires force if I need/want to disentangle my hand from their sweaty fingers. It's a human connection that orphans crave.

And there have been moments when I can't stop laughing, like today during a rousing game of duck-duck-goose. Instead of duck-duck-goose, in an effort to teach anything during Talk Show, I've renamed the game TV-TV-camera. Surprisingly, this works.

Anyway... the game is going well, everyone is having fun, no blood or tears so far. Molly, a tiny girl who alternates between hysterical tantrums and maniacal giggling, makes her way around the circle:

"TV. TV. TV. Hanguk. Hanguk. Waegook. Hanguk...."

Hanguk is Korean for "Korean." Waegook means "foreigner."

The entire class found this hilarious and the game quickly devolved into hanguk-hanguk-waegook.

Hey, they might not have been learning English but at least no one was crying.

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