"Oh," I asked her, "was your daughter in my 2nd grade classes?"
I won't speak much about handsome: I think Koreans love to tell foreigners they're handsome regardless of its truth, but I will say, hearing that her daughter found me "really kind" was a compliment that made my whole night.
Teaching high school English last year I learned how exhausting this time in Korean students' lives can be. Frankly, I found it ridiculous. At a time when, as studies have repeatedly shown, teenagers should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, Korean high school students are in school from 7am-10pm! And often, at hagwons (or private academies) until 12am in their third year, cramming for the standardized exam, Suneung - the all-important college SAT.
Seriously, do they ever see the sun?
Apparently also, they just don’t sleep during the week (except in class). Every Monday I'd ask my classes, "What did you do this weekend?" and without fail I'd hear either, “Adam Teacher. Sleep all day” or "Oh teacher! Study" with an exasperated sigh. Their stress in the classroom is palpable.
As teachers, sometimes we leave a classroom saying to ourselves, "That was a great lesson" ... sometimes.
To be honest, I don't recall who my colleague’s daughter is; much as I would have loved to, with 45 girls in each of 21 classes, I just never caught all their names. Some days I left the room wondering just how much English they were garnering from our one short 50 minute interaction each week.
But if our short time together has helped leave the impression that foreigners, in general are "really kind", then I’d leave Korea saying, “That was a great lesson."