DAILY GEMS

Daily gems are nuggets of goodness, like chicken bits in soup for the soul. My days are filled with them. Precious moments. I hope yours are too.

A KIND GESTURE

A kind gesture says a lot. Especially when challenged by a language barrier.

My landlord/lady own a tiny supermarket at the front of my apartment building. Most days a group of men, usually intoxicated, are gathered around tables outside the shop. It was a bit overwhelming at first. Now, I simply wave-bow to my landlady and quickly pass.

This afternoon a man outside the shop asked if I wanted some ice cream, pointing to his nearly finished frozen treat-on-a-stick. I politely declined his motion, and proceeded to enter the building. Thankfully, a little voice (I have many) told me to turn around (bright eyes) and accept his offer.

Yes, the little voice in my head sounds a lot like Bonnie Tyler.

He bought me a popsicle-thingy shaped like a slice of watermelon. It looked and tasted like watermelon too. Even had chocolate seeds! Obviously, it was delicious. But even more enjoyable was the connection(s) made.

Even though conversation was choppy at best, I found out he is actually a bus driver at my school. And because of him, I was able to communicate with my landlady by means of more than just a wave or bow.

I learned an important life lesson through that watermelon popsicle-thingy today. A kind gesture says a lot. Not all Korean men in front of convenience stores at 5PM have been drinking. One might have a treat to share instead. And always listen to what music from the 80s tells you to do. Turn around. It comes from a divinely inspired decade.

SMACK, SWIPE AND SWAT

Favorite moment spent with Chloe, my main co-teacher, so far: Following our last class this afternoon, we smacked, swiped and swatted for nearly ten minutes at some wasp-like insect that flew into our office. It was definitely a bonding moment between the two of us.

I probably wouldn't have noticed had Chloe not screamed like her life was in danger. God only knows what the kids playing outside our window thought.

She reached for a folder to cover her face. Of course! I grabbed and rolled a stack of translated lesson plans to prepare for a smack, swipe and swat battle.

The more she screamed and fluttered about, the louder I laughed. Somehow between the screams and laughter I was able to get a few smacks, swipes and swats in, but the darn bug wouldn't die. We opened the door and all the windows before finally getting it to leave.

In came Paul, one of the other English teachers, no more than a few seconds after we regained control. Chloe and I gave each other a look, and roared with laughter. Paul had no idea why we were laughing, or what he just missed. It was quite the smack, swipe and swat-down – true Korean/Foreign English Teacher collaboration at it's best.

GOT MILK?

One of the reasons I love having hundreds of students is I'll never truly be or feel alone in Ochang. Just a quick run to the grocery store this evening had me introduced to a father and sister of one of my students, and a mother and brother of another.

There we were in the dairy aisle. Naturally, I conducted a quick lesson in English.

Me (M): "How are you?"

Student (S): "Fine."

M: "What is this?"

S: "Milk."

M: "Who are you with? Mother?"

S: "No, father. Sister."

M: "Oh! An-nyung-haseyo!"

S: "Bye-bye!"

Daily gems are to be treasured. Those pearly flashes we reflect on at the end of each day, and can't help but smile about. My days are filled with them. I hope yours are too.

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