So I have officially given up on my quest for calling Korean kids by their Korean names. It has been well over a year since we have been at the same school and I know about ten percent of the kids names. It is embarassing. I have had some of these kids for over a year and I don’t know their names. I threw out that personal and national identity stuff out the window. I mean, I still call Young Taek, Young taek, but his brother, well that dude is Harry to me.
Though the kids hardly noticed, I spoke to them in ways that clearly showed I didn’t know their names. You know, “So, what did YOU do this weekend?” or “Yes, YOU can answer.” It was particularly embarassing last week when after sacking my plan to learn their names, I asked them again for their names. “Teacher you know,” some said almost pleaing for me to remember, to which all I could say was “Remind me.”
But I swallowed my pride, admitted to Lindsay she was right all along, and assigned English names to kids. Some already had them. There were Sallies, Kellys, Toms, Jerrys, a Frannie (one of my favorites), two Colins, a sprinkle of Sarah’s, an occasional Jenny and a surplus of Johns.
As with most kids, Korean kids are real jokesters. Some decided to give me funny names to make their classmates laugh. To a few of their’s dismay, I went with it. Now among the Sallies, Sarahs and Toms I have Student, Someone, Somehow, Human, Joker, Jelly, Crazy Marshmellow, Congybop (which is Korean for a bowl of rice) and my all-time favorite, Face. Its fun, or at least it is for me. Because my career as an elementary stand up comedian just took on a new life. I could make the kids laugh occasionally before, but when I call on Crazy Marshmellow to read, you would think I just told the funniest joke in the world.