To you it may seem like a letter… to me it’s a year-long hug.

All the times I walked up that dreaded hill in Myeong Dong towards Namsanwon Children’s home; in the rain, in the snow, in the absolute freezing cold… and every time I showed up only to learn that Han Wool wasn’t there (mis-communications can be common among people who speak different languages, FYI). It was always worth it when I did get to hang out with him, honest. He makes me laugh, he makes me feel young (because I am getting so old, you know), he makes fun of me (how is that possible when he can’t speak English? oh… it’s possible!) and he has finally started trying to learn English.

It has been several months over a year since I started tutoring Han Wool. During that time we haven’t actually had a “real” (in the sense of verbal) conversation. I never knew how he felt about me hanging out with me once a week, did he just like the snacks I brought? Or playing games? Or getting presents?

Then, last Monday, my life changed.  I received a letter.

I love the stationary in Korea.

A rough translation of what this letter says (keep in mind his grammar even in Korean is still not perfect, he is only in 6th grade):

Dear Melody Teacher,

Hello, I am Han Wool Lee. It’s always fun to be with you, and one more. It’s always fun to play games with [insert several Korean names here, I don’t have the power to switch my keyboard to Korean]. Study English is a little tricky, but because Melody Teacher teaches me I am thankful. Also thank you for helping me read English books. Thank you for buying me the soccer ball for my birthday. I really enjoyed eating the soft ice cream with you and [insert friend’s name]. But there is something I am really sorry about. When I was playing soccer with the hyungs (Korean name younger boys call older boys they are close with) the ball went over the fence. And every time you smile at me and I wasn’t smiling back, right? From now I will study hard. You know you buy us snacks right? Thank you.


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