I know I’ve been terrible with the updating recently, but if you spent your days chasing around orphans, I bet you’d be the same way.

That being said, the kids from the Aloysius orphanage are back. This week, we’ve had about 200 fourth graders from the orphanage, in addition to 50ish regular students, three Russian students from Vladivostock and two dozen Japanese students who are here for a few days. As I said to a friend yesterday, SEV has turned into a miniature United Nations.

Because of the mix of students, emotions have been mixed. On one hand, these orphans have been here before and know the rules. Because this isn’t their first time here, the staff and teachers are better prepared to deal with them. Schedules have been tweaked, special lesson plans have been written and potentially dangerous situations have been easily avoided. Unfortunately, the Japanese and Russian students are getting special treatment every day and are being followed around by TV cameras filming special news segments.

In my art class yesterday, the orphans were having a lively conversation/debate. It was in Korean, so I didn’t have a clue what they were saying, but all of a sudden, the kids started to say some familiar names: Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Lee Myung Bak. These kids were having a political discussion! At least, I’d like to think they were. Toward the end of class, one girl asked me how I felt about Lee Myung Bak, the current president of Korea, who is widely disliked because of Korea’s failing economy. I said he was “so-so” and asked the kids what they thought about Barack Obama, to which I got several thumbs up, reminiscent of when I discussed McCain and Palin in Airplane class. Oh, by the way, Korean kids probably know more about American politics than their teenybopper counterparts in the U.S. do.

That was one of the brighter parts of the week. While it’s been really cool to see the Russian students getting along so well with the Koreans (verdict is out on Japanese/Korean relations; the Japanese students only got here yesterday, but judging by the decades-long strained relationship between the two countries as a result of the occupation, I’ll just be happy if nobody throws a punch), that’s only been a small part of the week. A majority of my classes have been with the orphans, and I’ve got the scratchy voice and bags under my eyes to prove it.

When the Aloysius kids come here, I start out on such a high. But as the week drones on, my excitement and energy and drive to help these kids wanes. By the end of the week (read: NOW), I’m tired, angry and frustrated. I’m sick of holding kids back from fighting each other, tired of yelling “Ya!” to get them to stop screaming at each other in Korean and upset that these kids, who obviously don’t belong here, are dumped on us every month. It’s so clear to everyone here that SEV is not the best place for these kids. The teachers don’t have the proper training to deal with teams of hyperactive, unruly kids with emotional and behavioral issues. The situation is only exacerbated by the fact that we can barely communicate with them most of the time. I’m not sure what the point of sending them here is. I know that above all else, I work for a business, not a goodwill organization looking to give foreigners a party. The school needs to make money, and so they take these kids in, even if it means considerable stress, wear and tear on both the physical building and the people who work inside it.

I’ve got two more classes with these kids before they leave in a few hours, and I’d be lying if I said I’m disappointed to see them go. It’s not good to feel this way toward people, especially kids, who can’t help the way they are, but loving the unlovable is one of the most difficult things most of us will ever have to do, and I know I’m not there yet.

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