It was a warmish Spring Monday at English Village. The air was fresh and clean. It felt great to be outside for a bit before our busy day began. I was lined up with around thirty of my fellow teachers awaiting the arrival of our newest group of students. Finally, there they were, coming down main street and around the bend. The street filled with adolescent Korean bodies diminishing in the distance into tiny beings. As we watched them descend towards us, they kept coming and coming…as if an endless assembly of students, until, at last, they had all arrived.
Later that day when students were dressed in their informal attire, I couldn’t help but notice that many of them were wearing the same shirt. It said… “The Sexy Face” in logo fashion similar to “The North Face,” a brand very popular in Korea. “It’s a class t-shirt,” an English Village teacher informed me. “Surprising,” I thought. How strange it seemed for middle school students, boys and girls, to have a class shirt with that message.
“Sexy” easily drips out of the mouths of Korean middle-school students. It helps to consider, as I am told, that the word “sexy” has a bit of a different meaning in Korea than it does in the United States and standard English. As I understand it, in Korea it means more like pretty with perhaps less of an emphasis on the “sex” part. Even so, when I was teaching a smallish class of girls only and removed my clumpy brown coat revealing a more form-fitting sweater underneath, the response from the students was “teacher sexy.” Such is life in Korea.
Perhaps “sexy” in Korea fits into a category of words known as Konglish. Simply put these are English or English sounding words that have a different meaning here in Korea. Many of these words, commonly spoken in Korea, would likely be misunderstood by most English speakers. Here are some examples. “Eye shopping” is Konglish for window shopping. “Oil” is Konglish for gas. And “cunning” is Konglish for cheating. Here is a more complete list of Konglish words if you are curious.
In previous posts I have been revisiting the 5 precepts of Reiki, a spiritual practice that has been a part of my world for over ten years. The precepts can be thought of as guidelines to cultivate a higher quality of life and happiness. I brought them up because, in truth, I have felt stressed at work lately. Reminding myself of these precepts is a way to re-center myself and to keep my focus on a healthy and balanced path. The first precept is “Just for Today Do Not Worry.” The second is “Just for Today do Not Anger“. Here is the third precept:
Show Gratitude to Every Living Thing.
Ah, this one is a great reminder! Particularly when one is faced with large groups of adolescent children who mostly just want to go wild in the classroom. Like the other precepts, I see this as a call to be more mindful and refocus attention to showing gratitude to all living things in my life. People, animals, plants. It helps to restore an attitude of reverence and also helps me to take it slow and appreciate the beauty and simplicity of life.
For the coming week, I will be intentional about calling my attention to this precept. Would you like to join me?
This week I am also revisiting creativity a bit. With my regular pattern of busy days of teaching and my desire to just take it easy when I am not, I have found my creative life has gone to the wayside. What is creativity for you? For me it is writing, drawing, painting, poetry, playing and writing simple songs. When I feel connected to my creativity, it seems these things just flow like a river. I simply dip my toe in and there it is. But lately, it has felt dry and my desire and willingness to visit the flow has been… slim… to none. I read a post recently by writer Elizabeth Gilbert (author Eat, Pray, Love) offering the suggestion of spending just 30 minutes a day on whatever your creative project is. This was a big help for me as it gives me a tangible and doable way to pick up the creative path in the midst of being exhausted or busy. When I am so tired and don’t want to do anything, I can say to myself “hey, it’s only 30 minutes!” This simple strategy has already helped me pick up a painting I started months ago but have just been staring at for weeks. 30 minutes. Very doable!
How about you and your life? Any gratitude to share? Creative yearnings or frustrations to express? It’s always good to hear from you! Bye for now from my regular irregular life at Gyeonggi English Village!
Featured photo, “The students are coming! The students are coming!” Hundreds of students arrive for their time at Gyeonggi English Village.