Christmas time is near and the festive spirit can be felt in the air in Seoul, but no where near what its like in America. At school the other day, I joked to my second grade class that if they didn't do all of their homework, I would call Santa Claus and rat 'em out. No cool Christmas presents this year kids! The moment they heard this threat, a reaction occurred that I really did not expect. These kids are 8 year olds, and they still believe in a Santa! They wanted to know how I knew him, what he was like, does he really speak Korean, was I lying (I reassured them I met him personally in Finland), if he could please bring them a Nintendo DS/some Pokemon toy/a new cell phone (most of the toys were heavily technology based. Each kid here has a cell phone), and other questions I can't remember. I then asked them, how does he get into your apartments on Christmas Eve? One of the girls exclaimed "through the chimney!", but before I could help direct my question another kid blurted out "but we don't have chimneys here! Does he know our apartment codes?" After some discussion amongst my little pupils, the consensus was that Old Saint Nick does in fact know their apartment codes.
The next day, I had one of other teachers call me on my cell phone because I had told the second graders that I have Santa's cell phone number. When they saw it was "Santa Claus" on the caller ID, they had to talk to him. "Santa" reminded them that not completing their English homework would result in last year's Samsung or LG toy instead of this years cool, new one. Needless to say, the students are looking forward to Christmas. One thing to note is that my third graders did not fall for my knowing Santa. I guess that's about the age where they realize Santa is in the same boat as Spiderman, Superman, and King Kong; they don't exist.
Which leads me to another thing. I've been called a lot of things by my students in my short tenure as a teacher. Here they are, in no particular order (all of these are typically screamed by kids):
* Supermaaaaan! (A fellow teacher told a group of Kindergartners that's what I actually am. They're 5 year olds. haha)
* Chinaman! Chinaman! (why? I have no idea)
* Koreaman! Koreaman! (I told a few of them I can speak Korean. When 'proved' it by saying a few phrases, I had them convinced I'm actually a Korean in disguise)
* Gorillaman! or Monkeyman! (I have a slight beard right now, and this is a big deal since I'm told its harder for Korean men to grow facial hair. The kids are terrified of touching my facial hair. On the other hand, they love to come and 'pet' my arm hair. For some odd reason, they can't get enough of this. When it was still warm and I wore shorts, they loved pulling on my leg hair.)
* Ajashi! Ajashi! (In Korean, Ajashi is a term for a married man. Now, why they call me this? No clue. I think it might be the facial hair.)
* Pom-Pom (A Cat's name from a book we read in a Kindergarten class)
* Oookraeeen! (Ukraine. Two of my kindergartner's are moving to Ukraine in January because of their father's work. I'm not sure what he does, but these are not poor kids, so I imagine they'll be doing well in Ukraine. Also, talk about coincidence)
These are but a few of the nicknames I've heard. I'm sure there will be more.
We are taking pictures will all of our students to send to their parents as Christmas cards. Here are two pics with two of my favorite Kindergarten students.
BTW, my fourth graders are NOT as cute as these little people. :)