by far, my all-time favorite kids from my year of teaching come from last session’s natural class. there was alex, who was so kind, smart, loving and perfect in every way that it’s easy to imagine him in some Children of Men dystopian future carrying the last sliver of hope for mankind around in his little heart. there was kelly, who had this incredibly strong sense of herself and felt totally comfortable doing her own thing and being a weirdo. and then, there was andy. i’m not their teacher anymore, but andy is still my pen pal. he writes me a letter every couple of days, and i write him back, though i’ve been a bit derelict in my writerly duties recently. today, he gave me the pen pal letter of a lifetime. i think i’ll frame it when i get home. keep in mind this kid is six and writing in his second language.
in case you can’t read it, here is a transcription:
Dear Rachel, I like you very much. I like your smell, eyes, nose and mouse, I like everything about you. U.S.A. is so cool and good. I like their coin, house, food and the president. I want to move my house to U.S.A. Can you tell Tom [Teacher, who was their teacher before me] “I love you even [though] you lie.” I want to get a pet, but no, because of my alergy. Can I give something to you? The coins were very good. I also want to tell to my secrets. Here come the secrets, “Look before you run,” “Slow and steady wins the race.” Pen pals don’t need their phone. They just use their eraser, pencil and paper. And I don’t think there is Bachel. But there is a name that is writed Bachel. Is there a student named Hunter?
Your pen pal,
there is exactly one thing i will miss about living in korea, and it’s kids like Andy who i’ve carved out these really small, special, intimate places with among all the utter bullshit of the korean hagwon system. the rest of the country can sink right into the sea.