A Korean student with a camera on a school field trip in South Korea.

Lately, when I eat candy my teeth hurt. And after attending the fourth grade field trip today, I’m convinced I have at least seven cavities. My students wouldn’t stop feeding me sugar. The power of cuteness beats willpower any day. I couldn’t say, “No!”

Pretty sure parents lined up outside our buses (mostly mothers waving goodbye) caught glimpses of my underwear as we boarded this morning. Didn’t realize my backpack had pulled my shirt way above my waistline. Maybe this is why I later found out a group of mothers wants me to facilitate an after school, conversational English class for them.

90 minutes on a bus with nearly three-dozen 10-year-olds is too long. For the first few minutes they sat nicely, all buckled in with adorable mini backpacks on their laps. We put in an animated movie, and I got way too into it before realizing kids were getting restless and running amuck. Whoops!

Our first destination was a museum. Bibong Elementary took over the place in packs of threes, fours and fives, even tens. I felt the need to apologize to someone for being so noisy. At least they were having fun. I couldn't have cared less about the displays. What I enjoyed most was watching the students explore, learn.

I felt very cared for by students and fellow staff throughout the day. Everyone seemed to have my back (except for when I exposed it in the morning). For example: As I was about to pull out my camera at the museum, one of my students made a big ‘X’ with his hands, and told me I couldn’t take photos inside.

Our picnic lunch featured a smattering of Korean cuisine. Mothers prepared meals for each teacher on the trip. We shared piles if kimbap (similar to sushi), kimchi, fruits, cookies, meats, sandwiches and tortilla wraps. Also included were bottled Frappuccinos from Starbucks. More coffee. More sugar!

Kids screaming K-Pop songs on the bus provided entertainment until our final destination. We planned to hike up half a mini mountain. It was literally a hot mess. Just picture kids running, falling with sharp toy knives (they had purchased during lunch) in hand. Bottles were being thrown, dust was everywhere, and I was mobbed several times by groups of Korean high school students.

Coffee was a godsend today. Extra sugar was too. Helping look after six classes of nearly 200 fourth graders isn’t an easy task. But, the kids were so excited to share their day with me. I came away with a stash of cookies, gum, candy, sausages, juice, chips and one banana. My life is absolutely, positively blessed. I’ll take the seven cavities and call it a day.


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