My husband took tae kwon do for many, many years. At the end of each class, the students were required to bow to each other and say “gamsamnida”. I was quite surprised when I found out that the instructor had never told them what it meant – it’s Korean for “thank you”. (My best friend is half-Korean; I’ve picked up a number of Korean phrases over the years, as well as a habit of making my own kimchi.)
My mind went back to this anecdote when I was trying to come up with a way to end my classes – just saying “OK, we’re done” seemed anticlimactic after all the work we’d been doing. A friend and student of mine who teaches her own tango classes mentioned having her students clap at the end of every lesson, and that she thought I needed some kind of a closing “ritual”.
Since teaching is one of my greatest joys, expressing appreciation to my students for coming appealed to me. I started ending each class with “teşekkur ederim – thank you all for coming.” (“Teşekkur ederim” = “thank you” in Turkish.) It feels right. I like it.
Last week in my beginner class, my students wanted me to write the phrase out for them. Then one of them asked me, “how do you say ‘you’re welcome’?” Caught flat-footed, I promised to look it up.
The closest to a literal “you’re welcome” is “rica ederim”. There are a couple of other options for responses that I also like: “mutlu oldum” (“my pleasure”), and “ben teşekkur ederim” (“I thank you“).
I’m curious who else out there has rituals for starting or ending class. I’d love to see what other people do in the comments.