In the eyes of my new Korean students, I have reached idol status.. Korean Idol, that is. To them, I am in the rankings with their favorite K-Pop, 2NE1 or Bigbang singer. (I've found that Korea has a pretty strong music industry that is called K-Pop. check out the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAJ6Xk9bnew&feature=channel
On a regular day the cutest children you have ever seen run up to me, giggling and covering their faces with mocked embarrassment saying, "Hello" "Hey" "HI!" There's pointing and staring. I've even had 2 girls ask for my signature (that's how they phrased it in English, by the way. Go figure!) A little boy brought a letter in to me that he had written in English AND one from his older sister who is in a neighboring Middle school.
I'd be flatly lying if I didn't say that I am smitten by their adoration and charmed by those big doe eyes looking up at me in class every day.
It must be a ploy. These children have figured us sappy foreigners out!: Cover them with adoration and you are king. And boy, are they ever right; but who am I to deny them?? It goes something like this. "It's time for a lesson class! No, we can't play a game today.".. And then... they kill you with those big doe eyes. "Oh Alright... We can play a game instead."
I am not the first westerner they've ever seen, but for many of them I am the first or one of the first that they see and talk to on a regular basis. I speculate that to them I come from a country that has represented opportunity, and possibility, and wealth, and power (though, I'm not sure about half of those these days) that I carry a little of that status. That, tied in with the simple fact that like any child they have a natural curiosity about anything that is new or foreign. Again, this is just speculation.
I have to wonder, though, where the fascination comes from. The children are not the only ones to stare. The teachers stare, the guy on the street corner stares, the woman on the metro maintains a gaze for a half second too long. I realize I'm about 5 inches taller than the average woman over here, but even that doesn't seem to explain why every other foreign teacher here receives the same attention. It's a mystery to me and one that I'll leave open on the books for further social investigation.