Cherry Blossom Latte. Spring is getting near and Cherry Blossomed themes are starting to pop in every corner. I have been in South Korea for a little over four days. And already I can see some of the vast differences between my home in Southern California and Daejeon, the city I will call home for the next year. As I sit having my cup of coffee from Starbucks, (Yes, they have them here, however quite pricey. Cherry Blossom Latte > close to six dollars for a grande).
I sit in my new apartment and am heartbroken. While another unit I looked at seemed promising, mine is quite the opposite. In fact, so awful, that as soon as I woke up, I already packed my stuff and am ready to tell my director that I cannot under any circumstances stay in a unit that is invested with mold in every square in space. The last thing I need to do is become ill in a foreign country.
I experienced my first day teaching yesterday and it was then I realized just how much I have a newfound appreciation for teachers, parents, care givers, nannys and everyone in between who might be responsible for children for more than a few hours a day.
My students are adorable. Teaching for the first time I was more than nervous on my first day of school as most teachers who move well over half way around the world find themselves. What I was beginning to understand by hour five in my day, was sometimes, you need to just figure things as you go. There will be student who will speak in their native language to coerce you to speak, because while many people back home may know that I only look Korean American, I am as American as they get. However, to these students, I look like them, and surely I should be able to speak their language and communicate with them easily.
I can tell teaching six year olds (the equivalent to American 4-5 year olds) will be very challenging. I don’t how many times I have heard “teacher, I am tired, why I this so boring? When are we finished? When can I go home? Is it lunch time yet?) through out my ten hour work day. And because our school is an English only zone, while I can comprehend some of the students, not being able to communicate a response other than in English, has been challenging. I spend about two hours with these students covering subjects from phonics, to vocabulary and creative expression. All of which seem to just be one long day for most of the children. My daily challenge and preparation in teaching and helping these children will soley lie in the route of how to keep these children engaged for as long as possible, and hopefully see some English words coming out of their speech patterns.
The older students, some of whom have lived in America have been a joy thus far. Not only do understand for the most part of what I am saying, most of those students seem to engage in conversation when encouraging, for the most part.
And now that I have gotten my first nerve wrecking day out of the way, I look forward to more fumbles and confusion paired with challenge and reward.