Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

On Becoming a Gentleman


First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of updates. I had to leave my computer behind in CP while traveling, and picked it up this weekend when I went back for CPHS’s graduation ceremony.

While I love, or at least like, most of my students regardless of their actions outside of class, it’s always nice to realize that your students are not only good students but genuinely good people. Somehow through the two or three years you’ve known them, they’ve developed and grown, and you’re proud to watch them go out into the world.

On Friday I watched my seniors graduate. It was surreal. After graduation the parents and friends of graduates swarmed into the part of the auditorium where the graduating seniors were sitting, and I narrowly escaped getting whacked in the face by multiple bouquets. While there were a few seniors I wanted to seek out, I decided to exit the auditorium and congratulate them on facebook later. Luckily, the universe seemed to be working in my favor, and I ran into all of the seniors I wanted to talk to in the hallways after graduation – all of them except for my thousand kilowatt senior.

Later that day I went into the nearby city and hung out there for a few hours. I was there a little later than expected, and missed the second-to-last bus back to CP by about ten minutes, meaning I’d have to wait outside in the cold for the last bus. Right as I was getting off the bus, I noticed my thousand kilowatt senior (TKS) and ran up and tapped him on the shoulder. He saw me, beamed, and shook my hand.

As we got off the bus and went to sit down to wait for our respective buses, a creepy older man came up to me. Now, I’m an adult, and I’ve had plenty of creepy older men come up to me both in Korea and in the US and I know how to handle myself, but TKS looked horrified. He jumped up, placed himself between the older man and me, and started apologizing profusely while simultaneously gesturing at me to walk away and glaring at the man.

I’m sorry teacher, sometimes we have bad people. Please ignore these people. I will protect you.

Don’t worry TKS, it’ll be okay. You don’t have to protect me.

Yes I do. He is an old man. A bad man. I will wait with you until your bus comes.

TKS! You don’t have to! Your bus will come very soon, and my bus will not come for another 40 minutes.

I will wait.

It’s cold, and you’re not wearing a proper jacket! Don’t worry about me.

I will wait.

True to his word, he did. His bus came five different times, and he never took it. The old man came up to us three more times, and he shooed him away from me each time. We talked about the graduation ceremony, his future, how he wants to keep improving his English, and about why I came to Korea. He expressed regret that he didn’t take my club class (TKS, maybe you would’ve felt uncomfortable – at that time it was all girls. Oh no, that’s okay^^), and said he would order his younger brother to take it. When other students passed us and said “hello” he admitted that he was a little embarrassed to be seen talking to me. When I asked why, he assured me that it wasn’t because of me, but because he was embarrassed at his low (his words, not mine) English ability. When my bus came he walked me to the door, then text messaged me to thank me for talking to him and to wish me a happy new year.

Regardless of his lower-than-CPHS-average (but still good) English ability, despite the fact that he didn’t receive admission to an extremely prestigious university (his university is still a pretty good one) I consider him a CPHS success story. This, my friends, is what a gentleman looks like.

posted under Cute Stories, School
One Comment to

“On Becoming a Gentleman”

  1. Avatar February 11th, 2013 at 9:52 pm Amy Iversen Says:

    I LOVE this story!

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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.