Below are some photos from today's jjong-party with my favorite group of students—my intermediates. This semester, I had four beginner-level classes, one special pronunciation class, and only one intermediate class, which I thought was too bad: teaching beginners—who are often sleepy, lazy, and unmotivated—is hard work. Intermediates are (normally) better speakers; a teacher can do more with such students, and I wish my schedule had had more such classes. This particular group took to my round-robin method of teaching with gusto, and I think a lot of them profited from that student-centered style. So I have warm feelings for all these kids, and decided to have an end-of-term party (the Korean jjong is a slangy word meaning "end of the term"). Of sixteen intermediates, seven elected to come to the party, but one of those seven ended up in the hospital with burned fingers, apparently from cooking a ham, which is not a very Korean thing to do.
We elected to meet in St. Thomas Aquinas Hall, Room 412, the same room in which I had taught my basic-level Korean classes. We chose today (Friday, June 27), as our D-Day, and 1PM as our start time for lunch. The guy who ended up in the hospital was supposed to bring the appetizers, but since he couldn't make it, we started without any amuse-bouche, instead plunging right into the main course. I brought one half of that course: quasi-Alfredo pasta. My student Hwa-young brought the other half: an amazing lasagna that she had baked for the occasion. She had practiced making a lasagna a couple days earlier, enlisting the help of one of her American friends to get it right. The lasagna she brought today was one she had made herself, and had tested on her parents before offering it to the class. It proved quite delicious. Two of my other students brought a salad of baby leaves and alfalfa-like sprouts, along with light dressings (kiwi and something generically labeled "Oriental," which I found amusing). Two of my girls showed up late because of traffic problems; they brought a wholesome Korean-style cheesecake (I often enjoy light, subtle Korean cheesecakes more than I do heavy, brutal American ones) and a bunch of fresh plums (called jadu in Korean).
Most of the following pictures will need to be clicked on so you can see them full size. Before you click, though, hover your cursor over the images to see the captions I've written. You can't see the captions once you've enlarged the images. Two of the "portrait"-style images need no enlarging, but I'll signal that when the time comes. Enjoy!
The next two pics are "portrait" style and need no enlargement, so there's no need to click on them. They both show the beautiful cheesecake the young ladies had brought; the second photo shows the unconventional plating method we'd adopted. Hover your cursor over the images to read the captions.
The final sad picture of an empty classroom, below, will need clicking to enlarge. Hover your cursor over the image to read the caption.
It was a bit sad to see my students go; they were a very good group, and deserved this little party. We had fun while it lasted; one student decided to use his cell phone to play some music, and then a few students began DJ-ing with their own phones (Hwa-young very kindly played Sting for me—"Englishman in New York"— when I mentioned that I liked his music). I queued up a YouTube video of Bjork singing "Army of Me" to give the kids an idea about Western notions of electronica (Bjork is, after all, the undisputed queen of electronica, not to mention one of my little brother Sean's favorite performers). Talk was mostly in Korean, but that was OK; I wasn't about to force the kids to speak in English. Not today. All too soon, it was over. One student took home the remains of the lasagna and the Alfredo. I had an empty classroom all to myself, plus a pile of dishes and bowls that needed a bit of washing before I could take them all home.
My last party here in Hayang, I think. Now, it's all about looking forward to what I hope will be a soft landing in Seoul. The future beckons. Meanwhile, I'll miss this class. A lot.