Friday, December 18, 2009

"the magic method of contracting space"

So I gave my 6th graders an assignment to make an informal book about their schedule everyday including stick figure drawings and all that. Each page was to have one sentence about the usual stuff: "I get up at seven-thirty everyday" or whatever.

So this girl Ui Ju who is the highest level English speaker in the entire school (including teachers), basically filled the book up like an essay. Which is cool, because in the odd spaces smashed between poor translations, her crazy awesome level of intelligence and growing understanding of the world, and her crushingly monotonous daily life here and how she deals with it, always produces some AMAZING sentences. She's the same girl that wrote me the letter where she asked me whether I liked sloths or tadpoles more from an earlier post.

Whenever I give a writing assignment she always writes literally pages more than anyone else in the class. It is her main and almost only method of communicating with me. She's still just a little too shy to talk to me around school in the many times during the day I'm not teaching, and she feels awkward or embarrassed to speak in class because she has an innate understanding of how it will make all the other students feel bad about how little English they know themselves and either jealous or angry at her for showing off. So it took me nearly a year to find out that she even had the English ability that she did and how intelligent she is, and how unique her outlook on the world seems to be for her age.

When I come home at night I sometimes see her jump-roping outside of the entrance to my apartment. It's always a bit of an odd scene because she never really says hello unless I do first, and her mother is always there, standing eerily still, in the shadows watching her daughter jump-rope silently. She lives on the first floor of the same building I live in and actually used to live in the very apartment I live in now, which adds another wrung to the ladder of bizareness about certain aspects of my life here that I haven't found any way to express in words. I found out from her book about her day that:

"I exercise at eight. I jumprope 2000 times a day. My record is 2012. I was surprised."

"I eat lunch at the cafeteria of my school.
I don't have any story to write about lunch."

"I eat dinner at six. I also watch TV when I have dinner. My mom and I always watch American TV shows, such as 'American next top model', 'The biggest loser'. At first, only I liked the TV shows, but now, my mom enjoys them, too."

"I go to school at eight forty. Few years ago, I used to go to school too late. I had to wake up earlier or walk faster. I decided to walk faster to be on time. As you know, my school is located on a hill. And that is because my legs are developed. Nowadays, I am said to be the 'virtuoso of the magic method of contracting space.'" [emphasis added]

"I go to bed at ten or ten thirty. I used to go to bed at eleven. But I realized that eleven is too late. I have decided to go to bed earlier so that I can be taller."


Jimmy McDonald said...

This saying boggles the mind... so I researched it and found it to be a bad translation for "a fictional character of the Seven-League Boots."
It's a European folklore of boots that allow you to take spans of 21 miles. FYI :)

andrewjbates said...