Sunday, May 5, 2013

Less Reserved at the Reservoir

Is this trippy, or is this trippy?
This morning I went on a hike with one of my students, MJ. He's a quiet kid but he invited me on this short trip because he wanted to chat and to practice his English. He is also the student council president. I learned a lot about him in those few short hours, about his dreams, his family, and his school life, all of which largely go against what you might expect from a typical science high school student.

Although his English is far from perfect, I kept stressing to him that correct grammar was not necessary for successful communication. As long as you can get your point across, I said, you don't have to worry about your English. That came as a relief to him, I think, and it helped him open up so that we could talk for so long about so many things. He even said that English intimidated him and that sometimes he and his friends thought talking to me was scary, since they lacked confidence. But my presence at his school is precisely to combat that fear of speaking in English. I don't mind one bit being used by my students as their English dictionary and practice partner. It's better than lecturing on grammar! More importantly, practicing English conversation with my students at every opportunity opens me up to being their friend in addition to (instead of?) their teacher. "You influence me," MJ said. That made me think.

MJ and I hiked around Palyong-san, located between Changwon and Masan, although we didn't take any of the trails that led to its peak. Instead, we went to the Palyong Reservoir, which is the result of a dammed river, and walked around it while talking. It was a gorgeous spring morning, with no clouds to be seen and the reflection of the mountains in the water as clear as a mirror. (See the photo at the top of this post? It's been flipped upside-down.) Thanks to pleasant company and beautiful, serene natural surroundings, I started off today on such a high. I look forward to future small excursions like this; MJ promised that next time he would invite more students to join us.
Palyong Reservoir on a Sunday morning.