Okay, so even though this post is categorized under places, you’re mostly going to see faces in this post. HOWEVER, I don’t think that is necessarily a contradiction because at the end of the day, places and travel are all about people, culture, and relationships. Right? So here goes the first post of several to come about my time living in South Korea.
I lived in Bucheon, South Korea for most of 2009, teaching at an international Christian school called Samkwang International Christian School (SICS). It wasn’t your traditional international school, considering that all of the students were actually Korean citizens. They call it an international school because the curriculum is (in theory) entirely in English. Most of them had started at this all-English-speaking school in kindergarten, so through immersion, they learned to learn in English. While most of them were very fluent in English, they spoke what many would call “Konglish.” They always called me “teacher,” when I asked them why they were doing something they would say, “just,” and they always dragged out their consonants at the end of every sentence. “Butuhhhh!” “Teacherrrrr” “Too much homeworkuhhhh!” “I don’t like Englisheeee!” (If you’ve lived there, I’m sure you will know what I’m talking about.)
Since I had traveled to Korea over half a dozen times to visit relatives and had previously lived in Korea over a summer to work with North Korean refugees, I didn’t spend a lot of time sightseeing or traveling around. The bulk of my time was spent in the daily grind teaching these kids, grading their papers, planning their lessons, tutoring them after school, buying them ice cream, taking them out for dinner, hanging out at the park, playing soccer with them, listening to their problems, meeting their families, and kicking them out of my apartment when it was time for me to go to bed.
If you’re wondering if this is normal for foreign teacher’s in Korea, it’s definitely not. I was at a very unique school that encouraged personal relationships and mentorship with the small classes of students. And since my students were all transitioning into puberty, their parents were especially thankful for my personal investment.
My time in Bucheon, South Korea, was a life-impacting year. Now, when I think of Korea, I don’t think of the typical things–kimchee, karaoke rooms, Korean bbq, Namsan tower, Jeju Island, temples, mountains, public baths, no, I think of these beautiful kids who have taught me more than I ever want to know about pre-teens, but more importantly, have shared themselves, their spunk, their energy, their humor, their intelligence, and their love, with me:
And Rebecca managed to successfully dodge the camera for an entire year, so here she is with the other girls (Top right corner):
A few more just for fun:
They were always looking for things to do during cleaning time besides cleaning. On this particular occasion they thought it would be funny to tape Jimmy to the pole in our classroom. And to be honest, it was pretty funny, so I took a picture; then I yelled at them to get back to work…^-^
Hope you come back to hear more about my year in Bucheon, South Korea!