Thursday Short: Fast Times at Seogwipo Girls’ Middle School

When I say “Fast Times,” it should be more like “Unique Times,” but that’s not an attention-grabbing title.

Yes, I live fast, unique times at Seogwipo Girls’ Middle School.

For example, this morning, I went down to the teacher’s room to lock my file cabinet. On the way back, one of my students grabbed my hand and led me into a classroom where I signed a birthday card for a fellow teacher. The girls “Oohed” and “Awwed” at my English writing and were impressed that I wrote my name in Korean.

In Korea, teachers all have one office with individual desks that are similar to cubicles. For those at home that want to learn Korean, it’s called the gymushil. Students come in and out of the office during their 10-minute class breaks to talk or clean at the end of the day. Many students like to talk to me, to practice English, or just to look at the knick-knacks on my desk.

Yesterday, one of my students walked up to my desk and started talking. She then looked at my water bottle and asked “So, can I have one drink?” In the States, this would have never went down. But we’re in Korea, so I let her have a drink out of my purple water bottle. Sometimes intercultural exchange looks like a water bottle.

I also have artistic students. Yesterday, two of my students were making miniature paper cranes. I noted how cute they were and one of the student gave me a green one. Her desk partner, not to be outsmarted, gave me a blue crane. I now have two cranes on my computer screen at school.

Students are also commenting on my eye color. They are amazed that I have blue eyes. One student asked if all people in the United States had blue eyes, to which I had to say “We are all different colors in the United States!” I was glad to debunk a popular notion that all people in the United States look the same. Still, my students tell me that my eyes look like the sky or they’ll just look at my face and say how white I am.

Yes, I live fast times. I live unique times. I live in Seogwipo, Korea and this is my life.

geon bae from a different kind of south,



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