Monday, June 29, 2009

조금*

There's a kid around these apartments who knows my name. I told it to him once, while we were both standing at the local food stand run by my friends, and he remembered. I ran into him three times yesterday, and each time, he yelled out, "Teem!" The last time I saw him, he was fighting in the grocery store with who I figured was his sister, presumably over which snacks they were to buy with the paltry sum she carried, a couple thousand won. Because the boy, whose name I forget or misunderstood as something else or never learned, couldn't understand my English, I asked him in German, "{What's the matter with you then?}"

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* "A little" (which sounds like "joke 'em" or sometimes almost like "choke 'em"), an utterance I use whenever I hear the Korean word for Korean.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Fernando Pessoa"

My latest published piece could be called a B-side to one of the parts of "Exeunt Omnes."

선생*

One student's mother expressed concern in the weekly exchange between teacher and parent: her son wouldn't practice his English with foreigners he encountered on the subway. Should she be worried? Could he really speak English? The teacher said, "Well, the student's probably just shy around foreigners, and why should he talk to strangers anyway?" But according to the teacher's supervisor, foreigners are never seen as strangers; they are teachers; therefore, it's considered strange when a child won't practice her or his English with them.

Andrew and Lacy, great friends, are gone. The turnover since I've arrived has been stunning. All the Western teachers who were here when I started are gone. All the Korean teachers who were here when I started are gone. The Korean mothers/aunts (as they're known)—whose job it is to take care of the students on the bus, before class, during lunch, and at the end of the day (which is, believe me, a whole hell of lot of work)—are all, for the most part, still there. Besides them, only the principal and one of the two secretaries have been at LCI longer than I.

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* "Teacher."