Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monday is the new Saturday

Saturday has been my favorite day of the week pretty much since I got here. I wish I could say it was my favorite because I'm super-exciting and do really spectacular things on Saturdays, but really, the reason is because I rarely have to set an alarm clock. Alarm clocks are man's cruelest invention, and one day a week I can forgo the incessant beeping and sleep until my heart's content. Usually I don't sleep all that late, but I like having the option; thus, Saturdays were always my favorite.

Lately, though, Monday's been creeping up the charts.

Monday?! you ask. Why Monday?!

Well, meet Taesun.

After Christmas at the children's home, I signed up to tutor with Jerusalem Ministry (a group in Seoul that works with orphans). It took about three months to go through training and get placed with a kid that needed tutored. Although I was on fire for the children's ministry three months ago, my interest has waned while I waited. I was attending the prayer meetings where the other volunteers would share their struggles in the homes, and I was honestly starting to wonder if it was going to be too hard for me. Most of the kids who need tutors have really low English skills, and with all the stress my new littles have had me under, I was kind of not feeling it. I was being lazy and selfish, and I knew that if I showed up for the first session, I'd have to show up every week until I move home because I signed a contract to not bail.

The week leading up to that first session, I thought of every excuse in the book to cancel. I had pictured my kid as a tough little gangster who spit in my face and shouted obscenities at me throughout the whole session. I told myself I was too burnt out from teaching, I needed to spend time with my friends, and (most embarrassingly) I couldn't climb the horrendous hill to the home every single week. I almost emailed to tell them I changed my mind a hundred times, but ultimately, I decided to stick with my commitment. And boy am I glad I did.

Taesun is around eleven years old (I'm not quite sure because every time I ask him, "How old are you?", he says, "Fine"). I don't know any details about his life except for the fact that he was dropped at the orphanage a month ago and I'm currently his only tutor (it's Korea, so most kids have more tutors than they have toes). When I first met Taesun's dorm mother, she told me he had been asking for me all afternoon and that he had prepared his notebook and pencils an hour early so he could be ready to go the second I walked in the door. While I was filling out paperwork, he came running into the office, clutching his blue notebook and pencil case, but he didn't expect to see me there yet. I smiled at him and said, "Taesun?" He turned bright pink and replied, "My name!" He waited for me to finish my papers and we headed down to the workroom.

I was told that we were supposed to get to know each other, but that's really hard when we don't cross over in the language department very much. Taesun's English is slightly better than my Korean, but I could tell he was really embarrassed that he wasn't able to answer most of my questions. We played for a while with Scrabble tiles, sounding out simple words and practicing the sounds the letters made, but my favorite part of the night was the second half of our hour together.

Taesun and I joined with two other tutoring pairs to play Uno. The other pairs have been together longer, so they know each other really well, but it didn't matter at all. Huddled around a little table on the floor, we laughed and pretended to get angry and laughed some more, and it was one of those moments that I just knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Although he doesn't know an incredible amount of English, Taesun is fantastically polite, and he tries really hard to answer anything I throw at him. I fell in love with him pretty much the second we met, and it already kills me that I have to say goodbye to him in five months. Mom, Dad: practice these words: "Taesun saranghae" (I love you, Taesun) you know, just in case he somehow winds up in my suitcase in September. It's totally not weird to adopt a tween before I'm even twenty-five, right?

Oh, and I forgot to mention, his self-selected English name is Chester. Chester. A-frickin-dorable.


  1. Chester! How do you say, "Hello Taesun, I'm your Auntie Lauren" ?

    And tell Brian to come new nephews :)

  2. I am so okay with adding Taesun to our family.