Sunday, January 27, 2008

Travelogue #23: The Day I Introduced Korean Kids to Fruit Loops

<---Travelogue #22: Busy Season/ A Look Back and A Look Ahead
--->Travelogue #24: Copied, Pasted, and Pissed: Plagiarism Gets Personal

It all started with the word "toucan."

Time 3B is the name of the class. I teach it twice a week, and its roster is filled with seven smart eleven year-olds. One afternoon we worked through the definition page in a chapter on illegal animal smuggling. That's when we found it: the word.

"Does anybody know what a toucan is?" I asked, wondering if I myself really knew the answer. I mean, it was a bird, right? That much I knew...that, and -

"Toucan Sam? Has anybody ever heard of Toucan Sam?"

I might as well have mumbled "Bueller? Bueller?" because nobody in the class was with me. I turned to the white board and began to draw. I sketched a cereal box and a looping beak.

"Teacher, is that an earthworm?"

No wonder I needed a tutor to pass third grade art.

"How about this," I said, "I'll bring in a box of Fruit Loops and you guys can see the toucan. How's that sound?"

They clearly listened to me, because when I arrived for the next class without the promised Loops, they branded me with the L word.

"Liar!" they shouted, smiles on their faces. "Liar teacher!"

"I didn't lie." I flashed them a black-and-white image of a Fruit Loops box that I had printed off the internet. "See?"

Disappointment hung in the air like a gray haze. I wasn't fooling anybody and I knew it. Next time, I thought, next time I would deliver.

And I did. Like a Kellogg's Santa Clause I swaggered into class with a bag of spoons, bowls, milk, and Fruit Loops. The students whispered to each other, crying "yes! and "thank you!" as I filled their bowls with the cereal. "Toucan," I said. "Toucan Sam!"

As they raised spoons to their mouths, they inspected the face of the box. They were eating and learning, learning and eating. None of them had ever before eaten Fruit Loops. In the past three months, Koreans had introduced me to a variety of exotic dishes, but this was a new day. Instead of just taking new experience after new experience, I was finally giving back....even if it was in the form of Fruit Loops.

"Delicious!" Jason said, later saying that he would ask his mom to buy a box.

Correct answers to the homework earned extra cereal. Hands shot up and I served the sugary treat. I even managed to videotape the action.

Thanks, Toucan Sam.

<---Travelogue #22: Busy Season/ A Look Back and A Look Ahead
--->Travelogue #24: Copied, Pasted, and Pissed: Plagiarism Gets Personal


Anonymous said...

How lucky those kids are?
Having you for a teacher.

Anonymous said...

you are a cutie!

Natarsha said...

Cereal is so expensive here. It is so good though. I know the kids love that you brought in fruit loops to eat :)