Thursday, May 15, 2014

To Teachers!

The Korean Google Doodle for Teachers Day!
Today is Teachers Day! It's a special day when students show their appreciation for their teachers past and present, in keeping with the idea that in Korea, a child's teacher is every bit as important, respected, and responsible for a proper upbringing as her parents are.

Gifts of food, flowers, and boutonnieres were delivered to all the offices today, and I got a nice note from one of my favorite students. What really surprised me, though, was seeing banners strung up in our main building's atrium. At first, I thought that they were more of the banners that our school puts up to congratulate students who win competitions. But then, I saw that they were from universities... and also that some of them were rather oddly designed. I don't think Yonsei University would really congratulate future prospective students with a grinning eagle-headed man or that Hanyang University would compare our teachers to coffee.

When I actually read the banners, I realized that they had been given by former students of Changwon Science High School. There was one each from five of the best universities in Korea: Hanyang, KAIST, Seoul National, Sungkyunkwan, and Yonsei; all of them had well-wishes and words of thanks. The amazing kids at KAIST also sent a banner on which they had hand-written long letters to their past teachers: the hardworking, sacrificial individuals who'd led them through two years of grueling academic torture so that they could succeed in their education. I noticed a "Mr. Cheng, Thank You" among all the indecipherable Korean, and I was touched.
These are some of the banners strung up in the hall. I'm going to try my hand at translating them... from top to bottom:

Hanyang University: "If our school's professors are like normal coffee, CSHS's teachers are T.O.P. We'll never forget your kindness."
KAIST: "We will never forget your kindness."
Seoul National University: "We're becoming people thanks to you, teachers! We respect you always." (And this one is followed by the names of students along with nicknames I don't fully comprehend.)
Sungkyunkwan Univesrity: "How our teachers' kindness is higher than heaven! Thank you."
Yonsei University: "To our teachers who guided us along a straight path, everlasting thanks. Yonsei pride for CSHS: Go Eagles!"

Anyway, I want to take just a moment to thank all of my past amazing teachers, starting with Swarthmore professors who've really helped me and had an impact on my life: To David Harrison, Donna Jo Napoli, Nathan Sanders, and Helen Plotkin. And to my own high school teachers who would probably be surprised to hear where I've ended up six years after graduation: Jean Dotson, Lee Glover, Valerie Hodin, Elizabeth Waller. To my coaches and cello teachers, youth pastors and camp counselors, dozens of language teachers of dozens of foreign languages, and my parents. To all my friends who have studied education and burn passionately for their schools or for fixing the broken American education system. To everyone who's ever invested themselves in the cause of a well-rounded, accessible, and inspiring education for children all around the world... To teachers! They are among the strongest and most important members of any society. Give your nearest teacher a hug.

스승의날 축하합니다!

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