A smile is the key to universal language

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at my desk after teaching 4 classes of 3rd graders. First thought, comfortable shoes are the #1 thing on my list of stuff to get. ASAP. My second thought is… wow I can’t believe I’m here, I’m doing this and what an experience this is just after 10 days of being in South Korea.

The key part of my day was lunch time. I now know EXACTLY what our biggest stars and athletes feel when they go out in the street. I have NEVER experienced anything like what I experienced on my way to, in and from the school cafeteria. Walking past classrooms I heard “whoa”, “aahhhh” “omg” and all kinds of audio sounds I don’t know the spelling for. While walking, kids would walk past and stare, smile and say Hello. Some wanted to flaunt their english skills and would take it a bit further, but I appreciated those few because years ago I fit their shoes quite well.

I’m having difficulty describing how it felt to be in the cafeteria where almost EVERY student no matter the age either waved or said Hello. There was a moment where a group of boys waved for a minute straight from WAAAAYYY across the lunch room. It was crazy. After sitting down, one girl crept up near me and just smiled and stared. I waved, while I continued to wave at all the other students. She then came back approaching me much like an intriguing  science project. She mustered up the nerve to say, “what’s your name?” I said Mia. She smiled, said thank you and bowed as she crept away.

The curiousity of these kids has humbled me in ways I never thought was possible. In class during question time, the top 3 questions I got were:

1. “Do you like Korea? Or why did you come to Korea?”

2. “What’s your favorite food? Do you like fruit?” (These kids know their fruit!!)

3. “Your hair”… which translated into tell me about your hair. One boy called me a doll because of my hair. They noticed it was different. And wanted to know if I did it like that. (2-strand twists) I even got some of them to utter “twists” That really felt good!

I can tell these kids will serve as the highlight of my experience here. This morning I woke up extremely sad and missing my better half and wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice. I now know I have and cannot WAIT to bring him to class so they can meet an “African American man” LOL

Overall, my first school day will be etched into my head forever and the visuals I have of these kids will always make me smile, because regardless of how much english they know and how much Hangeul I know, I communicated with almost 300 Korean children today with just a smile, and it felt great.

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1 Comment

  1. Fumi Stephenson

     /  08/29/2012

    Very impressed. Well done Mia!


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