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January 11, 2012

Physical appearance is really important in Korean culture, and people generally don’t shy away from making direct comments about it.  Kids, especially, tend to just say whatever they think, so I’ve gotten some strange comments from my students over my few months of teaching.  I thought about what it would look like if I combined all of the comments from kids together:

“Yellow hair, very big eyes, weird green eyes, big nose, yogurt face.”

The last two have hints of mild racism, but coming from kids I’m not at all offended.  (An old Korean racist term for white people roughly translates as “noser” or “nosie.”)  I never really noticed until recently, but most Koreans have small noses.

About a week ago, one of my students raised her hand and said “Teacher, do you eat lots of yogurt?” and then started giggling.

“Umm…I eat yogurt sometimes.”

“I think you eat lots of yogurt.  You…yogurt face.”

Though she was struggling with her English, she was trying to say that I eat lots of yogurt, and that’s why my face is white.  Later she called me “Yogurt Teacher,” which I had to put a stop to.  I thought the whole thing was pretty funny, though.

One of the reasons why I wanted to teach kids, though, is that they are usually ridiculous and surprising and uninhibited.  Recently, in one of my classes, a 3rd grade girl randomly stood up in the middle of the class, and started singing this song and doing the exact same dance that they do in this video.  It took be a long time to stop laughing and regain enough composure to get the class under control again.*



*(I originally had a different video and song here, but I’ve changed it.  I thought about it, and my “It’s not offensive because it doesn’t even make any sense” argument doesn’t really make any sense, because I wouldn’t have posted the video if it was using cultural elements from a group I am personally more familiar with.  So, new song, new anecdote.  The internet is nice because you can change your mind.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. marlene wheeler permalink
    January 12, 2012 4:46 am

    I guess racism appears everywhere–at an early age. Sounds like you know just how to handle it. Love reading your blogs. Aunt Marlene

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