I made a mistake…a big one. I know that I should never react to something that a student says, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Every day, a group of third and fourth grade girls surrounds me after lunch. The routine is the same every day. They spend about thirty seconds trying to communicate with me, get frustrated, and then spend the next minute or so feeling my arm hair and chattering in Korean. This never bothers me, because they’re nice kids and that age is super cute.
Yesterday morning, three members of the aforementioned group passed me in the hall. One of them said “teacher, you know Vurjania?” At first I thought it was a Korean word, so I said no. They all laughed and one girl said, “yes teacher! You know Vurjania!!!”
Me: No, I’m sorry. I don’t know.
Girls: Teacher, yes. Vurjania!!! (pronounced: burr-jan-ya)
Me: Is it a Korean word?
Girls: NO TEACHER. ENGLISH!
Me: Ohhhh. You mean lasagna? A food?
Girls: NOOO TEACHER!!!!
Me: Explain it to me. (a common exercise in class)
Girls: Boys are penis. Girls are VURJANIA!
That split second of shock was all it took. I’m fairly certain that they have no idea what either word means. All they know is that it freaks out the foreign teacher, and that’s fun.
I managed to avoid the group after lunch, but I knew the word was spreading when I walked into one of my fourth grade classes. A boy in the front row said, “Teacher, are you know Vurjania?” I didn’t react this time, but the damage was done – several kids laughed hysterically. I was too embarrassed to explain to my coteacher what was going on, so I’m worried about what might happen in today’s classes. Wish me luck!
Also, I’ll never look at lasagna again.
Until next time.