We began Korean language classes on July 6th and have been taking them Monday- Friday for 4 hours a day. As expected, I was placed in the beginner class and the language is pretty difficult. I am picking up on it and I have made several excursions into town using my Korean successfully. Orientation also consists of cultural workshops and teaching workshops that are supposed to help us prepare for our year in Korea.
As part of Orientation, we fill out a placement form on where we would like to be placed in Korea. However the placement form does not guarantee anything, it only indicates our preferences and the KAEC (Korean-American Educational Commission) does their best to place us in school that fits our preferences. Ultimately it is up to them. I did not have any specific preferences other than being placed by an English speaking church, which is actually more common in Korea than I thought. About a week after submitting our placement forms we had a placement ceremony in which everyone's placements and school types were read off. I am an EETA or Elementary English Teaching Assistant (although the assistant part of that title is rather misleading), as a result my school type is just co ed elementary school. Secondary ETA's could be placed in co ed, all girls or all boys middle school or high school. When I received my placement, Cheongju- Namseong Elementary School, I excited when I realized I had already visited the school. During the first week of Orientation EETAs went to visit an elementary school to help us visualize what our next year would be like. It just so happens that the school I visited will be the one I am going to teach in for the next year.
Korean Language classes are finishing up this coming week. We have a speech to memorize and give on Monday and a final on Tuesday. On Friday we are traveling to Seoul for the weekend. We will visit the DMZ and have a graduation from our Korean language class. During this graduation each class must put together a presentation. Ours is going to be a skit (in Korean, of course) based off the Real World reality tv show. We are video taping it this week and presenting the video during graduation.
Departure day is August 22nd. Our Principals and co teacher will come to Jungwon for a big ceremony in which all of us will leave Goesan and travel to our placements. This day is going to be both exciting and very sad. While I will be leaving many of the friends I have made over Orientation, I will definitely travel Korea to visit them and I look forward to a year of teaching. I don't think it has hit me yet that I will actually have my own classroom (well sort of). I am going to be a real teacher! Crazy! This is what I have worked so hard these past four years for!
Here are some pictures so you can see what I have been up to :)
|This is Namseong Elementary School. I took these pictures on our site visit, not knowing this was where I would be spending the rest of my grant year.|
|This is one of the classrooms the previous ETA, Clare taught in. She did not have her own English classroom but moved around to her students classes.|
|I decided to take Taekwondo while I was at orientation. The goal here was to blow out the candle without actually touching it. I got it, just not on the first try :)|
|We were also able to sign up for Archery, which was REALLY cool. Our instructor is apparently world famous and was training two olympic athletes, whom we were able to meet.|
|We traveled to a Budhist temple while visiting Donghae (beach weekend) and the monk was showing us how to play the drum as part of their religious ceremony.|
|Me and a random elephant statue at a museum we went to on our way home from Donghae.|