It’s Monday night here in Korea, and I’m thankful to be starting a new week. Last week, we had about 150 orphans from the same place that sends us kids once a month or so. I’ve blogged about the orphans several times, and each time I think my voice has been different. I can’t count the number of times they’ve been here, but I know that my feelings toward them each time are varied. In the fall, when they first came, there was a lot of anger on the part of the teachers. We were upset that we had no training or special lesson plans for the classes. But over time, the classes became less about damage control and more about finding creative ways to get to these kids. I had five classes with them last week–three Art and two Culture. All of the classes went well, because the lessons are less vocabulary-focused and allow for more creativity. In Culture, I had kids make cards for their friends. Apparently, “friends” means Barack Obama, because half the class wrote to him.

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I like that this kid wrote "oh ba ma"

I like that this kid wrote "oh ba ma"

 

 

During Art class, there isn’t much to do except for walk around the room and look at what the kids are working on. As I was walking around one class last Thursday, I focused on one boy, who was diligently sketching a robot. I must have stared at him for a good minute or two. If he wasn’t wearing the tell-tale Aloysius clothes (donated by some goodwill organization), I would never have known that he was different from the kids we usually get. There’s very little on the surface that makes him different from your average Korean kid. My mind wandered even further, and I began to wonder what he would be like if he had what most of us take for granted: just one person who loved him. We take love in so many of its forms for granted–the love of a friend, parent, significant other–while these kids don’t have anything. All they need–all anyone needs–is someone who truly loves them, and they don’t have that.

After class, I talked to Jeanette about what I was thinking. She had been to Aloysius a couple of times and had met the nun who runs the orphanage. She said that the woman seemed to genuinely love all of the kids there. That was a slight comfort to me, but I couldn’t help but wonder: If a woman’s love is split among hundreds of children, how is it possible for any of them to feel loved at all?

Summer camp starts in another month, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the Aloysius kids until at least September, which means I may never teach them again. Working with them over the past eight months has been a mix of things–awful, inspiring, sad, hopeful–and it’s rarely been easy. But in the end, I know that those kids being here has been a good thing, not only for the them, but for the teachers as well.

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