hello, charles

this summer has been supremely weird. not least in the list of weirdness has been my summer work. when i first started summer session, i was forewarned that we would most likely develop close relationships with our students, since we would be seeing them so frequently for a considerable period of time every day. at the beginning of summer, this seemed unlikely. in one class, i had your typical little kids, who would surely remember me but not form any lasting closeness; and in the other class, i had a group of teenage boys who never looked at me, much less spoke.

things continued in this way for oh, the first two and a half weeks or so. and then – and then i don’t know what the hell happened!! my quiet, reserved, reticent students all of a sudden transformed into crazy, poop-obsessed, overly confident, outspoken, vocal, excessively exhibitive, typically invincible adolescent boys. whereas before they stared at their shoes, they now spend the entire class cracking jokes at each others’ expense, being playfully contentious and combative, expressing their obsessions with everything bodily and violent – whether it be the makes and models of guns, to the consumption, sale, and production of poo, to a rhetoric committed to suicide, murder, insane asylums and atomic bombs – all the while doing as much as possible to compete for my attention, whether it’s dancing a korean pop routine, or making random noises and facial expressions in class. i’d like to say they’re competing for the class’s attention, as that would make me feel somewhat less awkward, but it’s clear they’re not.

they are also inundating me with and exposing me to contemporary korean pop culture. like the wonder girls, big bang, and cyworld. the above video shows four korean boys dancing to a popular song, “tell me”. i swear, every korean at my school can dance this song, even my little kids. ok, maybe not every single one, but pretty damn close. one of my students performs this routine to me everyday. he’s very good at it. apparently, he himself made one of those “tell me” videos (you can see many on youtube, of everyone from policemen to army members) with his friends while he was in korea. yesterday, he even sang and danced at the same time!! it was super fantastic. my boys entertain me everyday and make me laugh so hard. apparently, two of them will be doing this dance for their oral presentation next week… if i can manage it, i will be recording it and posting it here… so look for an update!

they are the most random class i have ever taught, or participated in, for that matter. on top of my two korean wannabe popstars, i have a neo-nazi in my class who thinks hitler was the greatest genius in human history (no joke). he bothers me a lot, and his comments reveal his closed and ridiculously rigid mind. i’ve only got one normal student, a girl from china, who i feel very badly for, being stuck in a class with boisterous, strange boys.

oh, did i mention that they call me “master?” it’s seriously the best.


and, in other news of weirdness, i watched the ice storm, one of ang lee’s earlier films, with my sister a few nights ago. i had recently watched brokeback mountain, which had me virtually drowning in tears by its end – unexpected, since i’ve attempted watching this movie at least a few times, with no luck in moving past the first scene. that combined with lust, caution and my desire to have a more comprehensive knowledge of a director or author’s body of work, i figured i’d give this one a shot. everyone’s in it – kevin kline, joan allen, sigourney weaver, tobey mcguire, katie holmes, christina ricci, elijah wood…

i’m just going to say that this was probably one of the oddest movie i’ve ever seen in my life. which makes it totally normal for my summer. such a strange, strange film, with randomly poignant and hilarious moments, yet oddly satisfying by its end. recommended? not necessarily. but i liked it, charles.


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