Wow, long time no blog, hey?
As I’m still sitting here in the tea fields, you can safely assume I’ve renewed for another year of teaching down here in Boseong, Jeollanamdo. I had a great year at my elementary schools and high school, and the town of Boseong truly feels like home. When it came time to renew my contract, there was no doubt I wanted to do a second year!
Sadly, funding was cut for my elementary school at the county level, so I wasn’t able to stay there for a second year. What followed were some rather anxious few months as I waited to hear from my coordinator (and probably drove him crazy) about my new school. I had initially applied for a switch to an elementary school in Suncheon, but the day before our new placements were officially announced, my old co-teacher from my vocational high school reached out to me. Her new school, the academy high school in Boseong, had received unexpected funding for a Native English Teacher (NET)! We had a quick get-together that evening after school and decided to call the main office first thing the next morning to catch them before making the placement announcements. Somehow, all the pieces fell into place and I was able to stay in Boseong! As great as Suncheon would have been, staying in a town I knew in my same apartment and working with a co-teacher I know I already get along with fantastically just seemed like the most logical choice.
Now I am happily settled in at my new high school, which is just across the river from my apartment complex. This school hasn’t had a NET since 2010, so both the students and staff were buzzing on the day of my arrival. Especially the students, who are absolutely adorable and so polite. Judging from their reactions, you’d think I was Beyonce or Taylor Swift! The boys battle one another to say hello, and the girls shyly wave and dissolve into a mess of giggled when I say, “Hi!” in return. I even got a marriage proposal on my second day, but all the girls in the class told him they wouldn’t “accept” our relationship as he was unworthy. Poor guy! They crushed his dreams harder and far more swiftly than even I could! I’m sure it will all die down by the end of the semester as I go from Dazzling Celebrity Foreigner to Regular English Teacher.
The school itself is beautiful–it looks like something out of a Korean TV drama! The campus is fairly large, and there are many new buildings. As an academy high school, there are dorms for students who live in the countryside or whose parents want them to focus more on their studies. Our classes begin at 8:30AM and while 7th period ends at 4:15PM, the students don’t get to go home until 10PM or sometimes even 11PM! Both lunch and dinner are served on campus, and students spend their evenings in “self-study,” which is supervised by teachers. In fact, many of the teachers who live 30-60min away in Gwangju actually stay in the teacher’s dorm building during the week because of their supervision duties. Both the students and teachers work very hard and incredibly long hours.
|Yes, this is actually my school. Yes, it actually looks like this. Who said country living wasn’t cool?|
Fortunately I don’t have to supervise after-school activities, but I do come in at 8:10 to 8:20 every day, depending on whether or not I have a first period class. I do get to leave at 4:30, which gets me home nearly an hour earlier than before because this school is so close to my apartment. Woohoo!
At my old school, I had my own English room and office which was located in its own independent building. Here, I am in a big teachers room (which is usually the case for NETs) with 13 other teachers. At this school, there are 6 other English teachers, three of with whom I teach classes: Mr. Park, the teacher who is in charge of all of my affairs, Mrs. Gu, who I worked with at my old high school and who head hunted me for this job, and Ms. Park, who is just a few years older than me and has a desk next to mine in the office. So far, all of the staff has been incredibly warm and welcoming regardless of the language barrier. Every other Wednesday we get together and play volleyball in the gym and order a light meal to enjoy together after. My vice-principal is one of the best players, and has a terrifying spike. There are only two other female teachers that play, and the younger of the two asked me to help her improve her technique. I hope we can get more of the women playing, as the men don’t take the game too seriously and I think the ladies just need a bit of confidence.
|A typical classroom at our school. One of my coworkers is seen here teaching a music theory lesson to sophomores.|
|Students competing in a variety of sports and games for Sports Day this past summer.|
Korean high schools only cover the last three years of k-12 education, and refer to each grade in years. I teach 1st year (sophomore) and 2nd year (junior) students, but I see the 3rd years (seniors) in the cafeteria often. 9th grade/freshman in the US is a part of middle school here in Korea, and 6th grade is still elementary. I really love my new school, and hope to get more pictures and photos of our projects up soon. The kids actually have a lot of extra curricular activities as well, and we’ll have our school festival later this winter. Right now I’m “in charge” of the art club because they didn’t have an English club established this year, but it’s very relaxed and the girls are a ton of fun. Can’t wait to see how the rest of this year goes!