A few days ago my school’s director came to me with a mission that seemed straightforward enough: teach the kids about Halloween. At first I was pretty excited to take on this challenge, I mean, how hard could it be, right? After all, Halloween is every kids fantasy come to true. You get to stay up late and walk around aimlessly in the street and have adults give you candy, no questions asked. All you have to do in return is wear a silly little costume; a small price to pay considering you get to go home with a pillowcase full of sugar. I had no doubt in my mind that this lesson would be a home run with the kids. I was wrong.
Flash forward to today. My materials were prepared and my energy level was high. I launched into a storybook filled with pictures of jack-o-lanterns and ghosts and candy and everything else Halloween-related. I really poured myself into the telling of the story, hoping to transmit some of the excitement I felt about one of my favorite holidays. But when I put down the book I was met with quizzical looks and empty stares. I was certain that it was only a matter of time before cricket noises would start going off in the background.
And so it was. It seemed that despite my best efforts, Halloween was just too bizarre an event to accurately convey through words alone. I can only imagine what the kids were thinking as I told my silly little story. “So let me get this straight. One night a year, for no apparent reason, everyone dresses up like ghosts and zombies and makes their homes look as scary as possible, and then they go out and cut faces into pumpkins and give each other candy?” To which my response would be: Yes, that is exactly right. Now that I think about it, Halloween is basically Thanksgiving on acid.
Down but not out, I still held out hope that my kids would one day get to experience the wonder of Halloween. To that end I prepared one more activity, a mask making lesson, in the hopes that a little hands-on work could get them a little more into the into the holiday spirit. One by one I laid the stencils out for the children to choose. “I want the cat,” said one little girl. “I want the monster mask,” said another. Within no time the masks were down to the point where only one remained. “Ok, I’ll take the Michael Jackson,” said a little girl named Betty. She looked so sad and dejected that she didn’t get to pick her first choice. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it wasn’t Michael Jackson she was after, it was Dracula. Close enough I guess.
So lesson learned. Teaching Korean kids about Halloween is harder than it looks. Let’s just hope I don’t I have to teach them anything about Groundhog Day.
Related Listening: “Thriller” – Michael Jackson