Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Surprise Party (깜짝 파티)

Nothing could cause me to love my students more than I do tonight. I really don't deserve to teach kids as thoughtful and caring as they are. This evening, my third-year students threw me a surprise party for no reason whatsoever! They made me a cute video and bought a cake with candles (it's not even my birthday), and then we took pictures together. Why? I have no idea! Well, actually, I do: it's because they're angels. No, but really.

The third-years will be done with school in about a month. They wanted to say goodbye -- a little early, I guess -- and show their appreciation for my having taught them for the past year and a half. I was so touched, and I kept saying, "Wow, guys, 감동해요!" and "사랑해요!" Look, I'm not an emotional person, and I rarely say "I love you" to anyone besides my parents. Yet as I looked around the classroom and saw my students' faces, I couldn't say anything else. It was a Tuesday evening and all thirty-three of them were skipping study hall just to say an elaborate thank you (and eat cake)!
Some of my students and me. YJ, in the brown jacket and holding up cuckold horns, planned the party.
Apparently, YJ, SH, and EJ planned the little party, and everyone worked very hard all day to keep it a secret from me. I suspect my co-teachers were aware of it, but they all left after dinner. By 8pm, it was just me and my stack of student journals to correct. SH and another student came into the office and pretended that my co-teacher had asked them to do some grading on his behalf, but while I thought that was strange, I didn't realize that they were just keeping an eye on me while everyone else blew up balloons and prepared the classroom just next door.

Even earlier that afternoon, I recall having seen YJ in the classroom alone, blowing up balloons. As soon as she saw me peek in the classroom, she hurried to cover something she had been writing, and I saw a video camera, so I assumed that she was working on her class' film project.

But when I went to the bathroom just prior to the "surprise", I started to piece things together. There was a quiet commotion coming from my classroom, which was pitch-dark, but I saw silhouettes inside. A bunch of students were also milling around the hallway and bathroom, when they were supposed to be in their study room. Lastly, I outright asked a student, "Hey, MC, what are you all planning?" And he said, "Oh, Teacher... surprise." Welp.

Then JM said, "Teacher, we finished what Teacher Lee wanted us to do. What should we do next?"

I said, "Um... I have no idea. What did he ask you to do when you were finished?"

That was evidently not he reply JM was expecting. "Oh, well... we're done now, and we will go. But first, you need to come."
Some of my students and me. JM, in the hat, pretended to work in the office. MC, on my left, "spoiled" the surprise.
And so I went, and there was the surprise, and it was amazing and touching and I really, really, really felt like the luckiest teacher ever. Again, I don't deserve in my life such wonderful people as my students. They have such big hearts. My co-teacher says that the third-years in particular have a much more positive and grateful attitude overall than the other class years, and I can definitely see where that comes from. But I love all of my students, and I think that after tonight, I've realized that I should let them know that more often.

Honestly, if I am rejected from every grad school I apply to, I will have no qualms about staying at my school for a third year. Already the prospect of going back to the US next July makes me anxious; I don't want to leave. With students like mine, how could I?

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