Monday, June 23, 2014


Me: Well, today is our last day of the English Conversation Club, and--
JY: Oh, nooo!!!
Me: What?
JY: That's not good.
Me: Why? I mean, you can still talk to me whenever you want.
JY: But I want to, uh... exist... with you.
Me: Oh?
JY: Forever.

Every day for the past two semesters, I have spent my lunch break running the English Conversation Club at my school. The brainchild of my co-teacher, the program is simply an opportunity for all the students to chat with a native English speaker (i.e., me) for half an hour once a month. They all attend the club in groups that rotate once a month. For the students, it's sometimes tough to remember when their day is coming up, and when it comes, they have to rush through their meal in the cafeteria, forego the day's soccer or basketball scrimmage, and meet me in the English-Only Zone to talk about the topic of the day.

Some students have dreaded this every month, but they do it partly out of peer pressure and partly because if they stick through with eight sessions (totaling four hours of English conversation!), they'll get a fancy certificate and something to put on their college applications. On the other hand, other students have really loved their monthly club time, and what has really thrilled me are the groups that have great chemistry. Somehow, they just click, and they laugh and joke with each other -- in English -- with almost no help from me. It's a joy to watch. I've gotten to know my students ten times better because of these daily conversations. I'm going to miss them so much.

The very last group will meet with me tomorrow, and then we're all done. Sixty-something hours of prodding questions and casual conversation starters, of laughs and really awkward silences. Done! I don't know what I'm going to do with my lunch breaks for the rest of the year. They'll be so strangely empty.

The most likely scenario is that I'll go back to doing what I did last year, before the program started: wander the halls, the library, and the gym to ninja-attack unsuspecting students with a loud and cheerful, "What's up?!"

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