Zest for life

Zest is a good word. It’s a strong word. A fresh word.

I want to have zest for all aspects of life. Food. Music. Adventure. People. Challenges. Trials.

It’s easy to become apathetic or numb to all the small happinesses that life has to offer when we’re under stress or simply worn down from the daily grind. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this: becoming buried so deep in layers of stress, preoccupied with the small annoyances and setbacks, that I couldn’t even surface long enough to enjoy the people and things around me.

I think zest for life is a habit to be cultivated one day at a time, and that’s what I’m trying to do now.

*     *     *

Oh, how I love my students. This week I felt that my classes really opened up to me. Which is strange, because normally that’s a very gradual process, but I think we suddenly took a big leap forward for whatever reason. I could distinctly feel the difference when I talked to them in their pairs and small groups.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I made them play an “asking for permission” game in which their teams had to ask “Is it OK to [somewhat silly action]?”, and if they wanted points, they had to then perform the action. So I had them high-fiving, clapping, jumping up and down, hugging each other, doing jumping jacks, spinning in a circle, singing “Happy Birthday” in English, saying “Six sick sheep” 3x fast… we had a good time.

I was a little nervous to try it with them in case of getting flat refusals to participate, but I would say 90% or more of each class were good sports about it (I should’ve known it’d be fine; they’re such good kids). They loved the tongue twisters, not so much the jumping jacks. But they wanted those points.

*     *     *

After we finished this game, one of my winning teams was shocked and appalled that I hadn’t brought candy for them. Actually, it was quite heart-wrenching; I did put them through quite a lot in order to win the game. This definitely should’ve been a candy day. Live and learn. So I said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” “Teacher, it’s OK,” yelled one of the kids from that team. So. Cute.

*     *     *

There is a boy in one of my classes who is very enthusiastic about speaking with me… in Korean. 100% Korean. I always go to check on him during book work because his level is low and he never does anything in the book if my CT or I don’t go help him. And every time, as I explain what to do, he stares at me patiently and then says, “샘, 한국말해요. 한국말 할수있어요?” (“Teach, say it in Korean. Can you speak Korean?”) And I always say no, and then he’s impressed that I understood him and persists in asking me to repeat myself in Korean. He is very adamant, and it’s very adorable.

Today he was thrilled when I said “Play 가위바위보” (rock, paper, scissors), because I used Korean. Also when I told him that “다음에” (next time), I’ll bring candy. Cute.

*     *     *

Finally… how could I not have zest for life when I can eat this heavenly creation?


11193380_10204157258112015_5514890006852147292_n It’s 빙수 (bingsu), which is shaved ice and various toppings. In this instance, it was shaved chocolate, strawberries, whipped cream, and custard sauce (inside), but you can get mango, berries, nuts, cheesecake, ice cream… or traditional Korean sweet red bean paste, which was the original topping when this dessert was created. It’s like eating snow, but clean snow with delicious fruit and chocolate. Mmm.


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