Friday, June 02, 2006

fond farewells and facing the future

Today was the last day of term. I'm tired as hell, having stayed up a bit past 3:30am to complete my food prep for the four jjong-p'a-ti I hosted. Luckily, students brought food for the first three parties, which helped: I had hoped to keep some fruit and other goodies handy for use as dessert during the 1pm shindig.

The 1pm party-- the class where I went all-out and cooked a full meal-- was the highlight of the day: the students recoiled in horror at the amount of cheese and cream and butter that went into each round of shrimp fettuccine alfredo I made, but they gobbled the food all the same. They also demolished the entire Kevin-style Mediterranean salad, which surprised me.

I had two bowls of pasta left over when the dust settled, but let me explain why: I had told my students that I would first make a small batch of fettuccine, to allow them to get small portions. I let one student handle the second load of pasta, and she emptied the entire damn box into the water. This batch ended up being more than twice as large the first batch. No problem: the pasta cooked fine and the sauce-making was still manageable, but in the end, the sheer volume of pasta defeated my students.

Fond farewells were exchanged. As always, I'll miss many of my students. After I mentioned that I would still be in the area during vacation, two of them playfully promised to stalk me (the term "stalker" has entered the Konglish lexicon). The ladies also discussed their future language-learning plans; some will continue on with our regular "CORE" program, while others will ratchet up the pain and sign up for our summer intensive program, which begins in July. It looks as though I'll be teaching more writing than speaking during the summer; I'll also be back to teaching advanced students.

At this point it's hard to decide which students I prefer. Low-level students present a great deal of difficulties for me, mainly because they can't always understand what's going on. High-level students are fluent enough that a typical high-level class will flow smoothly, but in terms of human relations, the high-level kids are sometimes harder to please, and can be annoyingly aware of their sophistication.*

My 1pm class had quite a few students who rightfully belonged in a higher level. A core group of four (out of eight stalwarts) would like to start some sort of club or group, and I'm taking this seriously. We've all exchanged email addresses... this might lead to something productive come July.

Farewells were for more than the students. We've also lost three good teachers in our department; they're setting sail for various reasons. None has been fired, in case you're curious, but I won't elaborate on their reasons for moving on. It's still sad to see them go.

And now-- it's time to focus on the completion of this book, Water from a Skull. The projected release date is June 26. I've decided that the absolute fallback date will be the symbolically significant July 4th because, along with being American Independence Day, it's also the day I started this blog (and one of the major reasons why no one notices this blog's blogiversary).

If you happen to belong to a church and are looking for a book to use in an adult-level class, my book might just fit the bill. More on this later.

This vacation, I'll also be making good on my promise to my Korean buddy to get off my ass and exercise in earnest. Perhaps I'll be able to offer before/after shots as Joel has done, but I think I'd have to lose about 50 pounds before you'd see any real difference in my face and body.

Tonight, meanwhile, I'm tired and have given myself only a few small tasks:

1. wash all the damn dishes and utensils, the detritus of a hard day's work

2. pick up my pants from the local ot su-seon place

3. write up that list of short- and long-term exercise goals I promised my buddy

A rest I need. Yes. Rest.

*There is something of a pecking-order hierarchalism in Korean culture with regard to one's English-speaking ability; students who are less proficient often profess to be intimidated by the students who speak nearly fluently. You can see something of the same dynamic in corporate culture. Westerners aren't immune to this, either; I noticed it at college, among us French speakers. I was wowed-- and awed-- by the number of people I met who could speak four or five languages fluently. My brain apparently had plenty of room for French (though most of that knowledge has leaked out of my ears by now); unfortunately, it seems there's not enough storage space in me noggin for Korean and classical Chinese.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Still eagerly looking forward to Water from a Skull! You don't think you could release it, oh, four days earlier so that I can have something to read on the plane, do you? As it is, I'll most likely have to wait until I get back to get my hands on it. How will I ever manage?