Thursday, September 08, 2005


Hey. How YOU doin'?

I got my first birthday present at school yesterday. It was from Lucy, one of my students who just came back from a month in the Philippines, studying English. She told me studied Monday to Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, and then had some kind of tutoring in the evenings as well. I can't understand how it happened, but I think her English is a bit worse than before she left. Is that possible?

I've been joking around with the kids. We're studying months in a lot of the classes: dates and ordinal numbers in some of the higher level classes, and months and birthdays with the younger kids. So the kids have been asking me when my birthday is. I tell them it's September 18th, which this year is not just a Sunday, but a big national holiday, Chusok (like Korean Thanksgiving.) Everyone gets 3 days off, but we all get boned this year, as the days off are Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

So I point out to the kids that since my birthday is on a Sunday, it's very very important that they bring in my presents on the FRIDAY before. Then I tell them what I want: a monkey, a car, a diamond necklace, a panda bear, a pizza, and money. Then I make specifications: not a big monkey, a small one. It should fit in my pocket. Not a red car, a silver one, and it should have gull-wing doors. Don't get me a gold diamond necklace, I like silver, and the panda bear should be a baby, because the adults are too heavy to carry home. Of course, the pizza should be table-sized, and the money should be lots of. Then I give them a little quiz and ask them what I want for my birthday. It's turned into a funny little listening exercise. At the end of it all, I tell them I am joking about the presents, please don't get me anything, just tell me "happy barfday," and I will be glad.

I guess Lucy was busy sneaking candy from her bag into her mouth, and wasn't paying attention to the conversation, but she showed up today with a nicely wrapped gift and wished me a happy birthday. It was a ceramic bear holding a snow globe, very pink and very cute, but definitely NOT on my list of crap I want. I've decided to keep my birthday on the DL and hope the kids will forget about it, or I'm going to end up with an apartment full of stuff that would never make it back to Canada with me.

The first place I worked in Masan in 2002 was in a fairly upscale neighbourhood, and the kids parents were all doctors and lawyers and such. When Teacher's Day rolled around in May I got some swanky stuff, including, Estee Lauder facial gift sets, The Body Shop soaps, beautiful hand made fans, a Swarovski crystal hand-phone doo-dad, and a couple of gorgeous bouquets of flowers. This past year I got a (pre-loved) ceramic baby in an iron crib, a necklace made of paper clips, wallpaper, and little shells, and a massive bright orange flower pin. It's not that I'm materialistic at all, just that I like expensive brand-name things bought at department stores!

I'm totally kidding with that last sentence, I just thought it was funny! I appreciate all the presents I get, except for "peppero day," November 11th, when I get 300 of these:
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I can do without those.

I actually really enjoy the little things the kids make for me. Many of them will be returning home with me. I really do hope the kids get me a monkey, though. Haven't you always wanted a monkey?
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Nomad said...

How would that cat of yours feel about a monkey?

Jelly said...

I'm not too sure, since he pretty much hates everything except me, and a nice bowl of cat food. I think in time, though, he would warm up to a cute little money and let the monkey ride around on his back. I intend to teach the monkey ballet poses, and both the monkey and Kamikaze will be outfitted in the most adorable glittering costumes. I expect to become very very rich.

Joel said...

I almost bought a monkey downtown last year. But it was like a thousand bucks so I took my free cat instead! I've never met anyone who went to the Phillipines and actually learned English. I'm not quite sure why people think they can send their kids to country where most people interact with each other in tagalog and expect them to learn English.