Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World

And by "world" I really mean the fall semester. Yup, today was my last day of school! Unfortunately, for my students, it's not their last day. They still have one more week.

Actually, it seems like it's just a series of unfortunate events for my students. I had previously arranged to have a "last class" for the second-year students who are entering university next spring, but it was canceled on me at the last minute, because they needed to review their exams and finalize semester grades. But despite final exams being over, they still need to study! Students going to university need to study to prepare for university-level science courses, and the students who are still going to be here for the next school year are already preparing for it. They hardly even get a break. Yes, Christmas day means no classes, but they have classes on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday next week, and I can almost guarantee that they won't be "party" classes like mine have been this past week. Not only that, but because my students live on campus, the single day off doesn't warrant any of them going home. Yes, most of my students will be at school on Christmas Day, with nothing to do besides study. When the semester ends next week, they have one week of break, and come January, academic "winter camps" begin. I'm going to be traipsing around California, Taiwan, and Seoul for two months while my students study. Dang, their lives kind of suck.

Okay, but my role is not to emptily pity them, but to encourage and teach them as much as I can. Now that the semester is over, I really wonder how effective a teacher I was this semester. When I get home, I need to do some major reflection and assessment. But now is not the time. I actually meant to make this post about class parties today, but I got sidetracked by my students' abominable holiday situation. I'm totally serious. When I asked my students, half-facetiously, what they wanted for Christmas, 50% of them answered, "I want to go home for Christmas," "I want to see my family for Christmas," and variations thereof. Help! What can save them from their misery? I tried bomb games (worked like a charm), movies (Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special, a very lucky find), Christmas music videos (the best of which I'll post below), and food! And I guess some of it worked.

I've been keeping track of participation points all semester, and the 1st-year and 2nd-year classes with the most points earned a small Christmas party, which meant cookies, Nutella, hot chocolate, and candy. I think I definitely earned points of my own in their eyes as a result (hehe). After class 2-4 (very likely my favorite class) had their party, a small group of them decided to skive off their afternoon self-study and we hung out in the English classroom, watching more Christmas music videos and making snowflakes. It was terrific fun. It's little moments like this that I really enjoy as a teacher, mostly because they are so incredibly rare at my school. The students are just too busy. Yet I still feel like I've gotten to know most of them pretty well, at least enough so that they chose mindless crafting over their familiar routines for a short, rainy afternoon. I'll miss them a lot when they go off to university and I never see them again.
Some of my class 2-4, making snowflakes. They're holding up "4" to represent their class.
And now... Christmas music on YouTube! Here are some of my classes' favorites:

Jason Mraz - "Winter Wonderland". Everyone in Korea loves Jason Mraz, it seems.

Jimmy Fallon, Mariah Carey, and The Roots - "All I Want for Christmas is You". This is super-cute.

Lady Antebellum - "A Holly Jolly Christmas". I used this cute video to teach my students about mistletoe!

Pentatonix - "Angels We Have Heard on High". Seriously, Pentatonix, STOP BEING SO PERFECT thanks

Kina Grannis and Joseph Vincent - "The Christmas Song". Gotta include my love for independent Asian YouTube artists! I showed them Kina Grannis, Joseph Vincent (both looking and sounding spectacular above), David Choi, Clara Chung, Cathy Nguyen, AJ Rafael, and Gabe Bondoc.

Then, ever mindful of cultural exchange, one of my students wanted to show me a duo of Korean musical artists called "J Rabbit" who created this adorable thing:

Well, December 21st is almost over here in Korea, and the world is still very much here! I'm very glad, too, for had it ended today, I would ever have been able to go home for Christmas and I would also never see my students for another semester! You see, winter break has just begun, but I'm already looking forward to coming back next year.

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