Teaching English and Baptising

First day of class and I’m trying to learn the names of eleven Korean children. All the names are nuts and totally butchered by my heavy Western tongue. (I swear the consonants are lighter in Korean.) My assistant teacher suggested that I give them all English names. Before I could say, “Isn’t naming children a thing for mommys and daddys?” there was a crowd of expectant eyes around me.

“Um, do you like the name Mark?”


“Okay, good. You’re Mark.”

“How about you. Um. Do you want to be called Sam?”

The friend of the would-be Sam started laughing and saying some jazz in Korean. I only understood, “Frodo.” So ‘Sam’ is out ‘cause all the other kids will think their classmate should be wandering around Mordor with his buddy. Sam became Jon. It’s weird that no one said anything to the girl who came with the English name ‘Cherry.’ There must be cultural thing I’m missing.

So, it seems christenings have been added to my resume. But not to worry. I don’t think these kids take naming things as seriously as I do. Most of them were instantly happy with their new names, as if I gave each one a shiny sticker. I’m sure their English names are equally disposable.

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