**Disclaimer: I’ve been speaking English really slowly the last few days and reading journals that consist of sentences like, “Today we played games, they were fun. I am very happy.” Forgive me if that’s how this post reads.**
Oh me oh my, I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like a whole lifetime has passed in the last week! My whole experience has been so different this time around. Orientation was organized differently, some things were better, some worse. Our training leaders work for the Provincial Education Office so they were more effective at explaining our roles as foreign teachers. Although, maybe I think its easier because I know what to expect.
Friday night was pretty memorable, a group of us (12ish) split into about 3 different cabs and managed to all get to the same place in Mokpo. I feel pretty confident riding in cabs now, I somehow got the shotgun seat for most of our taxi adventures so I got a firsthand look at how crazy the driving is. Lanes are just suggestions, btw. We arrived at a famous mountain in Mokpo and climbed to the temple at the top. The view was pretty great…one of those “oh my gosh I can’t believe I’m here!” moments.
We ventured down a winding street to a festival that some of the girls knew about. We ended up sitting in the front row so we were pretty much front and center. The host asked us where we were from, migooks of course, and everyone stared. The first performance we saw was a rock band, all I remember is that the drummer was wearing a cow suit, not sure what was up with that. The next performance was a traditional Korean story.
Then some girls came out to do a traditional dance, it was pretty sweet…definitely my favorite.
That was followed by a chorus of old ladies and some yarn-spinning. In between sets, the host asked one of our girls to try to spin some yarn…definitely a funny experience for her! The final act we saw was a puppet show, the guy was hamming it up with us and posing with the Korean flag for pictures. Great times!
We also made it to a light show on the water in Mokpo. Think Bellagio-Las Vegas-style/ending of the move Bridesmaids. It was set to music and was definitely mesmerizing.
Saturday we met our co-teachers. My co-teacher for Middle School Camp is Julie, she’s pretty amazing. She studied in New York for a year and a half so her English is stellar. I’m always so impressed at how well they all know English. I can’t imagine doing something like a Spanish camp and having to speak Spanish literally all day. Its stressful enough for me and I’m speaking my native language all day…the Koreans amaze me. We travelled to Chodang University and did a few teaching demonstrations. The days are all so long and exhausting. Oh, I also got to see Sean! He was a Korean co-teacher at Wando last year so we had a lovely reunion, so crazy to see him again. 🙂
Sunday was more orientation before traveling to camp. One of my friends from Portland last year has been teaching in Haenam all year and was helping with orientation so I got to see him as well. Awesome reunion 🙂 We all split up and boarded buses headed for 7 different locations in the province, Jeollanam-do. It definitely felt like we were going to summer camp, saying goodbyes to new friends and dealing with loads of luggage. Our trek to camp was amazing as expected. The rice fields are sooo pretty to look at…so green! I’m right outside Suncheon this year at Myungshin University. We traveled 2 hours via a norebus (bus with karaoke). After it got dark, we turned on the karaoke. Our microphone was broken so the bus driver pulled off to the side of the road to fix it…only in Korea. Songs were sang, fun was had, and we finally reached our destination.
Julie rockin’ out on the norebus 🙂
Our facilities aren’t bad, apparently Myungshin University isn’t very good and has been in the news for embezzlement lately…awesome! Its pretty small but our rooms have their own bathroom, the classrooms have A/C and we obviously have internet so all is good.
The Korean staff for our camp was so welcoming, especially for the American teachers. On our first night they had a party waiting for us in true Korean style, fried chicken, dried squid, American cheese, shrimp chips, and they even bought us Budweiser. Don’t worry, we learned how to pop bottles with chopsticks…sweet! They also asked the lunch ladies to prepare American style breakfasts for us so now we have toast and cereal…things that are not cheap in Korea. They are so accommodating for us! They all speak English really well so we don’t have a huge communication barrier between the foreign staff and Korean staff…definitely different than last year.
Koreans love their ceremonies and summer English camp is no exception. The camp began on Monday with an opening ceremony, complete with a pledge to the Korean flag (one practice, one for real), several welcoming addresses, and introductions to all the staff. All of it was conducted in English so I’m sure the kids zoned out after 2 minutes. We met our homerooms, assigned English names, and brainstormed ideas for a class name, poster, and cheer. Definitely a challenge with 12 middle school students who are shy about speaking English. Our class is the SUPERHEROES and Spongebob of course made it on to our poster. We managed to have something to present for the showcase which was all I wanted.
Tuesday began lessons, 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. I’m teaching Convenience Store for Middle School. My lessons are actually pretty fun. We’re going over vocab like ‘a bottle of water, a bag of chips’ etc. and how to say amounts of money in English. So far we’ve only covered lesson 1, we’ll see how the next 2 go. My co-teacher is helping me teach so we’re about equal in the classroom which I think is a great example for the kiddos! I’m trying not to force them to speak English too much and just try to make everything as fun as possible. They’re not really going to improve a lot in 10 days so as long as they’re comfortable speaking what they know, I feel like I’ve done my job.
I remember being so stressed out last year…probably for no reason. Things are so much easier this time around. I’m getting into a routine so I think I’ll have more free time in the next few days. Hopefully I won’t be as tired either. I’ve been absolutely EXHAUSTED everyday so far. More updates soon. 🙂
P.S. The kids are teaching me to read Hangul 한글…I should be a pro by the end of camp 🙂