This week is my last week of real lessons with my second years (they become third years in one month’s time and will spend every waking moment cramming for the suneung), so I wanted to make the lesson meaningful for them. I wanted it to make an impression not only on their curiosities but also on their perception and awareness of expression and identity—of themselves. They are heading into a year full of nothing but practice problems, tests, strict hair and uniform regulation, and studying. They won’t be allowed to—nay, won’t allow themselves to—watch movies, play sports, go shopping, spend a night just relaxing. In light of this, I felt that Korean Students Speak was a more than appropriate way to encourage my students to express themselves and to continue to express themselves.
I begin each class period with a writing and speaking prompt. My students always complain about having no freedom, so I decided that today’s would be “What is freedom for you?” I found myself wondering though while pacing the room—what in the world does freedom even mean to me? What do I hold freedom to be and what role does it play in my life?
Well, the answer I gave my students is that freedom, to me, is my rights and privileges being protected by my government, is having my parents’ trust in my decisions, and is being unrestricted within the soft confines of their wishes. It’s being strong and independent, smart enough to be in a foreign country alone, healthy enough, and tied to nothing but what I want to be tied to. But freedom is so much more than all of this. It’s having the grace of my God cover my shortcomings so that I am able to be me.