How a Simple Heart and a Helping Hand Can Go a Long Way


I have said a lot of negative things about teaching and working with kids. In the past four years, I have allowed a few bad experiences and my own negative attitude toward teaching continually fuel my perception of education as a meaningless endeavor. When I gained this realization, I immediately felt the overwhelming need to write this story so that I could share my true feelings. As a student of Education at UW-LaCrosse, I continually complained about all the difficult aspects of teaching middle school and high school students. As a student teacher and substitute teacher, I had focused so strongly on the negative aspects of teaching (such as the red tape, the hard work, and the low pay) and especially the negative aspects of the kids themselves (such as their rude behavior and their lack of interest). However, my experiences here in Korea, and especially my interaction with the Korean teachers, have drastically changed not only my attitude toward education but also my attitude toward life. I had no idea that my own true feelings about education had to be discovered by digging through layers upon layers of self-denial and negativity, just as an archaeologist must dig through layers upon layers of hardened soil to find a priceless artifact. I would like to share with you, the reader, a particular experience I have recently had here in Korea. I truly believe that my experience shows how the smallest acts of kindness can have such a tremendous ripple effect on the lives of those around you, and potentially the world as well.

This is a story about the reciprocal nature of positive thinking. It is a story about teaching and giving. It is a story about how I have changed as a person. Most importantly, it is a story about how this change has allowed me to have a tremendous impact on others.


How a Simple Heart and a Helping Hand Can Go a Long Way


Wesley Jansen 

Before I arrived in Korea, I promised myself that after I finished my one-year English teaching contract, I would do whatever it took to get out of the world of teaching. Little did I know that I would meet the most kind-hearted and lovely Korean female teachers here. Their attitudes, their kindness, and their dedication to their students have served as a mirror that reflected and revealed to me the ugly nature of my futile and self-destructive negative attitude. Little did I know that they would inspire me to change, and little did I know that I would have an impact on them as well.

Of all the magnificent and mysterious places to visit in Korea, I must confess that the one place I cherish above the rest is the humble teacher’s lounge of the private English language school on the 4th floor of the “Sky Well-being Park Building” in the Sang Nam Dong province of Changwon City. (It is a school for elementary and middle school children. They attend evening classes after they finish their regular day school.) The teacher’s lounge is a relatively small work area that is just up a small flight of stairs from one of the hallways. In this lounge, we make lesson plans, grade papers, share experiences, practice learning each other’s language, and form lasting friendships.

There are about 10 female Korean teachers and 3 native English-speaking teachers, myself among them. These female Korean teachers are some of the most beautiful people on Earth. Although many of the students are difficult to work with, whether it be rudeness or a lack of willingness to participate, these wonderful teachers go to work everyday with the same love, enthusiasm, and dedication to their students. And I must say, just being around these teachers has radically changed my attitude. The kindness of their spirits is reflected in their beautiful, feminine, Korean voices. I wish I could fully describe the wonderful flow of the rhythm and sound of the Korean language they speak. I could find eternal happiness from listening to their soft, pretty voices as they laugh gently and gracefully, and as they offer words of sweet kindness with every opportunity. Their harmonious voices dance briskly and sweetly through the air and fill my soul with glee and the blessed realization that the most beautiful things in life will find us if we want them to. Their ever-present kindness and sincerity almost brings a tear to my eye as I feel overwhelmed with happiness. This is the reason I have found heaven in a humble teacher’s lounge.


One night, we all went out for dinner to say farewell to one of the teachers who was moving. We enjoyed a fancy meal at an expensive restaurant and then went to a marvelous outdoor cafe, where we enjoyed wonderful plum wine and delicious exotic fruit in the open, cool night air. The night proceeded with intellectual conversations about the English language and a vast array of Asian philosophies. We all slipped into jolly moods as the wine eased our social tensions. The amazing food and drink blended naturally with the extraordinary company and the calm night air to create a beautifully cultured atmosphere of mutual sincerity. Their lovely Korean eyes brightened up like stars as I spoke with my clear English voice to help them pronounce English words, their genuine interest blissfully wrapped around every word I spoke. As we enjoyed each other’s company, I kept pondering, “How can I truly lend a guiding hand to these wonderful, warm-hearted Korean beauties as they pursue their fulfilling journey to improve their English?” As I was helping them pronounce English words, I was awakened by a spiritual awareness, a realization of the personal healing that was occurring within me because I was helping someone other than myself. My negative attitude vanished, and I was filled with even greater joy because I realized that I was helping the very ones who had changed my perspective on teaching and given me something to live for.

The night slowly reached its most peaceful moment, and the deepest serenity descended upon us and filled our souls. For the first time in many years, I felt inner-peace and satisfaction, a feeling I wished could have lasted forever. And it was precisely at this moment…that I…giving in to my ever-compelling, ever-uncontrolled, and ever-present socially induced compulsiveness…suggested to those lovely, beautiful Korean teachers that…an excellent way for them to improve their English…would be to listen to George Carlin.

What happened next was truly astounding. They all took turns asking me questions about George Carlin, each of them in turn, with their soft pretty voices, trying to correctly pronounce his name, and each with repeated success……….

…as the name of George Carlin ascended slowly from our blessed company,
…echoed softly in the cool night air,
…broke stealthily through the Earth’s atmosphere,
…danced swiftly among the stars above,
…and penetrated deeply the collective subconscious of the Korean people

And, because I told them that George Carlin was a master of the English language, they all went home, they all looked up George Carlin on the internet, they all studied his comedy with sincere diligence, and they all began quoting him in the teacher’s lounge. So now, instead of the wonderful Korean language that once upon a time filled the teacher’s lounge with beauty and dignity, the atmosphere had become impregnated with George Carlin rhetoric in the form of:

1) Filthy language and dirty euphemisms

2) Social criticism

3) Disgusting fart jokes

4) Horrible remarks about male and female genitalia

5) Political apathy

6) An ever-extending list of stupid people who “ought to be killed”    (as well as very colorful and creative descriptions of ways to kill them)

7) Vicious, unrelenting dissection and abandonment of religious principles

8) Constant references to “The Seven Dirty Words”


9) An irreversible “domino effect” of collapsing morals and personal values

The filthy language and wretchedness that had taken over our beloved teacher’s lounge eventually became so intense and awful that it formed a small, belligerent, venomous cloud of evil.

Much to my chagrin, the cloud rose through the ceiling of the teacher’s lounge and ruthlessly penetrated the remaining 3 floors of the “Sky Well-being Park Building” before it shot through the sky and pierced the clouds with gathering quantity and velocity. With all the fury of hell, it blasted through all the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere and permeated outward into the deepest, darkest regions of space as it evolved into a spiraling cosmic force of imperceptible magnitude and intensity. It reached the galaxies and attained a galactic nature of eternal expansionism. Expanding faster and faster, it achieved an existence of such unbelievable size and mass that it broke through the barrier separating reality from non-reality, removing the thin veil between the physical and spiritual realms, causing all the stars to explode and then implode which pulled all the black holes inside out, reversing all the physical laws of nature and upsetting the fine balance of the space-time continuum, making all the atoms and molecules in space burst and spiral out of control which compromised the duality of all ideas and philosophies, tipping the fragile chalice of eternity that contains the balance between good and evil, which in turn split the sky wide open and resulted in an incredible, unstoppable flow of dark energy pouring through that infested every human soul with George Carlin’s ideas and perspectives as well as an undeniable inability to abstain from laughing at his jokes, which in turn condemned everyone to hell, resulting in the permanent undoing of all forms of idealism…therefore destroying the single, solitary force that motivates anyone to teach or work with kids.

I am such an asshole!!!


2 Responses to “How a Simple Heart and a Helping Hand Can Go a Long Way”

  1. apple ipad future…

    Gran poste! Gracias por tardar la época de escribir algo que está realmente digno de la lectura. Encuentro demasiado a menudo el Info inútil y no algo que es realmente relevante. Gracias por su trabajo duro….

  2. Thankyou. I appreciate that. This one took me a long time to write, so I’m grateful that someone enjoyed it.

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