This week I’ll be saying goodbye to my high school students. When I first applied to EPIK I requested a placement at either elementary or middle school and was pretty dead set against high school. I mean, teenagers, they’re evil, right?! I was so terribly disappointed when I learnt that I had been placed in the one environment that filled me with dread.
Almost one year on and I have learnt so much from these kids. They fill me with admiration and love and I will miss them something chronic.
I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to gain an insight into the lives of Korean teenagers. I love their innocence, their sense of respect for elders and their commitment to work. Korean students often get a bad rep in the press as being depressed, suicidal little drones. In reality, the majority of my kids have sunny dispositions and have mastered the art of balancing a gruelling academic schedule with learning music, art and calligraphy.
I plan to hold a monthly conversation class for my kids at a local coffee shop this year. The Korean government may not believe in investing in the practical application of language, but I would hate for my kids to lose the self-confidence they’ve built up over the last year. You can only progress in a language if you are brave enough to speak it, write it, make mistakes and learn from it.
My last lesson will be a mash-up of Valentine’s Day inspired movie music trivia, origami heart folding and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Watching the scene where they meet for the first time still gives me goose bumps.