The third graders (seniors) at I-dong High School and I don't interact much, aside from a few cheery "hello!"s in the cafeteria or a nervous wave in the hallway, as they remain sequestered on the third floor, studying furiously for the KSAT (수능), the giant end-of-childhood exam that tests them on everything they've ever learned or heard in the history of their lives. It basically determines what they will be able to do for the rest of their lives. It's an enormous milestone and possible turning point in the life of every Korean. It's intimidating and nerve-wracking, to say the least.
Yesterday marked 50 days until the KSAT (November 12th), and Ms. Hwang, my adoptive Korean teacher and English pupil, was throwing a party for her homeroom class. She bought a cake from Paris Baguette and invited me to share it with them and give her students a good luck message.
Because they never see me, they get really excited when I come to visit their class. They all screamed when I walked in and got out their cameras and phones to take pictures of me.
Then they cut the cake, gave me the first piece, then devoured the rest in a matter of seconds in a flurry of frosting and fruit. Ms. Hwang and I ended up with some on our faces. I left them a good luck message on their white board - Ms. Hwang told me later that many of the girls (as well as herself) took pictures of the message after I left.