So I’ve been a teacher here at Samcheok Girls High School for just about 7 months. I’m the youngest teacher on the staff by 2 years. I also happen to be the only white (er, caucasian) teacher here. If you read about My Two Extremes you’ll realize that I’m surrounded by women all day long.
I try to do as best I can with the situation put in front of me. In this case it’s a lot of women. So, what am I going to do about it? Well, basically try to use my “charm” as well as I can (the phrase “Charm the pants off them” is not appropriate here).
Now, I’m no Fabio.. but I don’t think I’m absolutely terrible to look at either. My girls sometimes say I’m handsome too, which is nice (I think it’s also the fact this is the first interaction with a white male for them). As their teacher, I realize I have a bit of responsibility as a role model. I have found Korean girls to lack a lot of confidence. A lack of confidence in speaking English (even though they are just fine) and a lack of confidence with their physical appearance. They just don’t think they’re that pretty.
Why? While doing a lesson on Pop Music, I showed my girls this picture:
Then I showed them this “Girls Generation” video:
Not bad, eh Korea? Anyways, after showing that video, I put up the picture on the screen and I asked “Are the girls in Girl’s Generation beautiful?”. Every student said “Yes, so pretty!”. So then I said “They are also very skinny. Very thin. So, to be pretty, do you have to be skinny? Do you need to look like this?” as I pointed to the screen. Again, in unison they all said “Yes”.
So, that is when I yelled out “Noooooo! No girls, you do not have to be skinny to be beautiful!” then, in a softer tone “You are all beautiful. Every single one of you, in your own special way.”
My students watch these pop music videos all the time. On their cell phones, on classroom TV’s in free time.. all the time. It’s a huge influence for them, so no wonder they don’t feel as pretty as them. I tell my girls they’re beautiful all the time, because they are. I say it genuinely (it’s not creepy..). They only see me once a week for 50 minutes in class, but I hope over the year or so I have them I can at least make a little bit of a positive impact in their lives.