Saturday, February 2, 2013

End of School Year Gifts

The Korean school year begins on March 2, the day after Sam-Il (3-1, or March 1st), which is a holiday celebrating the 1919 uprising against Japanese rule. Since this year's March 2 is on a Saturday, the school year all across Korea will begin on Monday, March 4th. When the school year ends, on the other hand, is a random pin in a map, that varies from school to school, and year to year.

Generally speaking, second semester will end sometime around Christmas or the New Year (solar variety). Which is about two weeks after final exams. Elementary school stops before high school. Then, there is "winter camp", which I had for two weeks before going on my Vietnam vacation.

But I couldn't go on vacation exactly when my elementary school camp ended, because I still had two more sessions of my high school public speaking class that Friday afternoon and the next Monday, which suggests that high school camps are continuing on at least that long. It was considered law that Young-il HS camp will end before Seollal, or lunar new year. But this year, that's Feb 10, 11, and 12, much later than they would ever consider making camp run at Young-il.

Meanwhile, elementary and middle schools have a sort of mini-mester for "one or two weeks" in February involving handing out the new books, graduation, and what-not. Well, my school is doing this for three full fucking weeks! Except of course we get the Mon. and Tues. off during Seollal. In virtually every class, we're watching a movie. With Korean subtitles.

Those of you who read this blog regularly know I don't complain very much. But this is absurd! A joke! I sit in the back of the room and fail to stay awake. And the truth is I would rather be teaching!

Okay, so let's change the subject. As it's end-of-the-year, it appears there is a Korean tradition (at least in elementary school) to give a small token of appreciation to your teachers. It never happened in my high school, which conforms, more or less, to my experience in America that teacher gift-giving drops off with age; however, numerous of the cute little munchkins I teach now have brought the little heart-shaped origami-style packets you see below, packed with up to three candies (preferably chocolate) and a short message, sometimes in English!


Mostly from girls, but occasionally from a boy (or rather his Mom); the best part is the little hug that comes with it! Over twenty years as a teacher in the States, I have a massive collection of Christmas (and other) cards from children or families, and I treasure them, especially the ones hand made. So I was overjoyed to receive this Christmas card from a fourth-grader with a laboriously written English message just for me. If you want to read it, you can come over and look through my scrapbooks.


Now, I don't wear Capri slacks, I don't part my hair in the middle, and my classroom slippers are leather Crocs; also, none of the students actually has a bouffant hairdo. Still, it's one of my favorites!

1 comment:

JIW said...

Ah memories of how public school functioned. although by the end of the year I was too tuckered to really do anything. The kids were too buzzed to pay attention... it's a tough situation