Friday, July 29, 2005

my Friday:
student after student after student

Seven students came for my one-on-one sessions. Three more were supposed to show, but they bagged on me. Can't say I blame them: it's vacation weekend. I'll be stuck doing lesson plans and some private tutoring over the next few days.

My students today were a riot.

The first one, one of my favorites, ranted about how "America wants peace, but they bring war wherever they go." Dealing with youthful impatience and shallowness is what I do these days, and I did my best to get this girl to open her mind to the possibility that that peace/war slogan, along with the "It's all about the oil!" nonsense, might be obscuring a more complex reality.

Another student began by bluntly asking me whether I believed in God and ghosts. This could have been a much richer conversation had we had the time (each student gets only 15 minutes' face time when I do these rapidfire sessions), but we didn't get very far. She proudly claimed not to believe in either, declaring, in an eerily Jedi way, that God and ghosts were "for the weak-minded." I taught her the term "empiricist" and referred her to philosopher David Hume. Even tried to explain the whole "you cannot derive ought from is" thing.

At one point, though, I did have fun with her. She said, "If I can't see it, touch it, feel it, smell it, or taste it, then it isn't there." I asked her what her major was. "Math," she said. So I drew basic Euclidean shapes on the paper between us and said, "Here's a circle, and a square, and a triangle. But they're not perfect. Can you point me to a perfect circle? A perfect square? A perfect triangle? No? Then where are they?" She had a good laugh.

One of my cuter students showed up later in the day. While she was talking, I suavely exhaled a dried, gossamer booger onto the table. It landed on a piece of A4-size paper with an audible click. That was pretty cool. I don't think she noticed, though, and I managed to spirit the booger away before she got a look at the table. If she did notice... well, that'll teach me to clean out my nose a bit more thoroughly from now on. Cute Student said she wanted to do the Namsan hiking thing in a couple weeks, which is why I'm assuming she didn't see my flying chunk: a girl doesn't usually make such a proposition post-booger.

My last student of the day told me she'd had a terrible blind date a week or so ago, and that she was meeting the guy again that afternoon with her friend in tow. "Why?" I asked, incredulous. "To get revenge," she said. I asked her to clarify. "We were supposed to go Dutch last time, but I ended up paying double what I should have and the guy didn't say anything." Apparently, my student and her girlfriend were on a mission to get their money back (the blind date was 3-on-3, a fairly common dating format in Korea). I wished my student luck as she embarked on her quest, but in my heart I knew: anger, fear, aggression-- the dark side of the Force are they. Easily do they flow; quick to join you in a fight.

I then met an American buddy of mine, stuffed my face at the local Outback Steakhouse, and lumbered back to campus to stink up the teachers' office with my sweat-fetor. I apologized to the ladies who were working in there at the time; you know the odor's bad when you can smell yourself. Most of these ladies are approaching adjumma age, too, so I'm sure they made some catty remarks about my personal hygiene after I left.

And now...

I'm contemplating a late-night hike up Namsan. Problem is, I had a large lunch and an even larger dinner. Lunch has been squeezing itself out of my ass for the past hour, making me wonder whether I can risk a hike without needing to make a sudden break for a shitter.


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