Another Round of Goodbyes
I said goodbye to three classes of second years today. It nearly broke my heart.
I can recall so clearly my first day at Yeongheung High School, my first class, 1-7, with these kids when they were first year students. I’ve been with them for a year and a half. They saw me when I was at my worst, at my best, and everything in between. They know me best; I know them best. We grew up together, them into weathered third years, me into the teacher I am today.
You would think that having said goodbye so many times, to people in so many different places, at such regular, heartwrenching intervals, that this would be easier. But it’s not. It hurts, like someone is pulling my heart out of my chest.
This isn’t really goodbye. I’ll see them around school. It just won’t be the same, because we won’t be in class together. I’ll only get to see them in passing. The dynamic won’t be the same. I hope though that they know they can reach out to me, that I will always be available for them, that I love them more than I’ve ever loved another group. They are special, will always be special, because they were my first. When I think of my students, I will always think of them.
This next week of goodbyes is going to be so tough, but nothing compared to what I’ll have to face come June. Dear God, I don’t know how I’m going to survive this.
"When confidence relies on beauty, bad days for the body become bad days for the mind. Girls’ sense of worth crumbles, leaving them insecure and ignorant as to how to handle it; emphasizing beauty as a requirement for self-love means that the absence of beauty must lead to an absence of love. Teaching girls how to avoid these days is impossible, teach them to handle these days. Teach girls that they are funny, smart, engaging, compassionate, kind, insightful and valuable, and then figure out a better way to teach them that, if they want to, they can feel beautiful, too."
Stop Telling Me I Am Beautiful, Suzanne (via rbkh)
Lessons I want my own girls to learn, to internalize and really, really learn.
Philippians 2: 3-7
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Every time I read Philippians, it speaks to me. This passage lightened my heart today. It was heartening in a way only the Word and our Heavenly Father can be.
R.I.P. Nelson Mandela. A true fighter who lived 95 years strong.
The world lost a revolutionary on Thursday. Nelson Mandela inspired a lot of who I aim to become as a person. He was benevolent, fiercely loyal, an unbelievable man who built bridges when he had all the fodder and reason to burn them and throw the fiery pieces at his oppressors.
Though he was criticized for sympathizing with Communists, what I saw in his actions was a man unafraid to voice his opinion, a man unafraid to raise his hand and maturely disagree with the war in Iraq when public opinion applauded it, reprimanded America and Bush that our specious quest to dismantle Iraq’s “dangerous” nuclear program was rooted in our lust for Iraqi oil, and reminded us that the U.S. is the only country in history to have actually used nuclear weapons. Boy, did that one splash some water in my face.
Regardless of our difference in opinion, at his core, Nelson Mandela was human, flawed like the rest of us, and this relatability, his willingness to be human but rise above the tide of vindictiveness that so often stains revolutions, to stick his neck out peacefully for his thoughts and ideas, is what, I think, draws so many, like myself, to him.
Rest in peace, Mr. Mandela. May you rest in eternal peace in God’s arms.
#korean students speak
One of my second year boys, from my E level class, came into the English Teachers’ Room just now to ask to redo his Korean Students Speak picture. I am touched that the lesson resonated with him, especially since that’s the class I struggle most to communicate with.
I’ve been looking ahead in my calendar a lot lately, and that ominous day when I’ll have to leave my school behind and say goodbye to my kids and co-teachers has been looming large on my mind. ”Last Day of Fulbright Grant.” I have never been so hurt by such innocuous words.
Is it normal to feel like crying this often?
And I realized, while with the class that has moved me the most, why this Bucket List lesson resonates so much more with my 2nd year students. They are 3rd years now, on the brink of suneung obsession. This test has hovered over them for eleven years, and it will become them for the next one. To hear though that, while school, career, family are important, they are not you; you are you—this is, I think, what I have wanted to say to them all along.
Guys, my loves, my dear kids: y’all are more than this test; don’t let it define you. Don’t let your grades, your career, your family, your situation define you. Let your aspirations, your experiences, your thoughts, hopes, dreams, and ideas shape you. But at the heart of it all, let the stuff of your soul define you. You define you.
I don’t know why I am so much more emotional this grant year, but the love is just, crippling.
A bunch of my kids got into college this morning, and I am giddy weepy with joy. I came to school with a lot on my mind, sat down, opened my CoolMessenger inbox, and just started weeping. A lot of them still have to interview, but they’re in the final round - their teachers are so confident that they’ve already marked them as having passed.
I don’t even know how to begin expressing the emotion that’s consumed my body right now. I have no words for this, only tears.
I really hope they come to school today. I want to hug them so badly. It’ll make me cry more, but I want to hug them so badly, the kids who haven’t heard yet, or who didn’t get great news too, because what’s inside me right now is not pride or simple joy: it’s love, dangit, and I love all my kids so much it squeezes my being.
I never thought coming to Korea would do this to me, but I am so, so grateful for all of it. God, just, thank You.