Sorry for the blog blackout! It’s been an extremely busy two weeks. I was the co-director and teacher of a 4 day, 3 night winter camp, I moved to a new city, and I started an internship at a national university. On top of that I had fairly limited internet access until late last week. But I’m backkk!
Okay, first winter camp. That was a crazy busy time but it was so great. We’ve been in the planning stages for months and it came together beautifully. On new year’s day, my fellow ETAs and teachers for winter camp, Cameron and Kathy, came down to Suncheon to stay the night before since we were starting the morning of the second. We went out for kimbap(Korean sushi) and they got to meet the host family who proceeded to feed us as much as they possibly could. It was pretty great haha. But they are always very nice and welcoming.
So the next morning we got up and we headed out to Gwangyang to meet with my co-teacher and eventually the students themselves. When we arrived, Ms. Jeon was already running around getting things prepared for when the bus would leave. I had a few things to do myself. At 9:00 or so, students started rolling in with their backpacks and suitcases. Mine was the biggest out of everyone’s haha. Oops! We also handed out our workbooks that we made. They looked so good! They had a nice cover and contained all of the worksheets and papers that the students needed. It was really cool.
Dianna, the 3rd ETA who was helping with camp, arrived at 9:30. She decided to take a 5:30 train from her city of Cheonan. She called to tell me that the bus I told her wasn’t not showing up and if she should take a taxi. Unfortunately, that is ultimately what she had to do. In hindsight, it was actually my fault because I told her to take the wrong bus! I couldn’t believe it. Bus 77 goes straight to Gwangyang…but it only goes from the bus terminal, not the train station! L Oops. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was just a little inconvenient.
So once Dianna arrived, we left! We were headed to camp. The teachers and I were mixed with the students due to the seating arrangement and huge piles of luggage that was on the bus. I ended up sitting in the very back and I was frantically trying to finish my lesson plans since I forgot about one element that I intended to do (but I didn’t even end up using it haha). That is when Ms. Jeon made the first of many, many commands to speak English only. Her and I decided that to get the most out of the camp, students need to do their very best to only use English and to become immersed into the language. Naturally, there were some cries of protest at first, but some students began to slowly abide by the rules, after several reminders.
After about an hour or so, we finally got to the camp site. It was more like a small dormitory than a camp, but it worked out well for our purposes. We got there and had the opening ceremony which consisted of the teachers stating the rules of the camp, introducing the new teachers, and the vice principal giving a speech in English! It was basically the first time I ever heard him speak in English and I think it was the students first time too. We were all very impressed! Shortly after the ceremony, we ate our lunch and unpacked all of our things. Then we made our first schedule change. There were two grades in the camp, 1st grade(sophomores) and 2nd grade(juniors)and they normally just don’t interact with each other at school and they weren’t here either. It was just giving a strange vibe. So we decided in lieu of having our first class, we would do icebreakers instead! These consisted of a name game and playing “Trainwreck” which is a super fun game that gets everyone interested and involved and I highly recommend using it in situations where you need an icebreaker and/or team-builder. All you need is chairs! It’s great. So that was actually pretty successful and then we had our very first lesson.
The overall theme of the camp was supposed to be decades. It was semi-successful theme, but it gave teachers creativity to do what they were interested in while keeping most of the lessons more academic, which is what we wanted. It served its purpose, so in that sense it was a good theme, but it was difficult at times to see how all of the lessons were linked together, especially since sometimes it was not in chronological order. My first lesson was about pirates and survival and it put them in a survival situation where they had to do a lot of decision making and problem solving. It went pretty well for the most part, but there was still an awkward separation between 1st and 2nd grade and, unfortunately, this would be a theme throughout the camp. I never really experienced this when I was in high school so it was odd to me. I know with my cross country team, I was friends with the seniors when I was a freshman and opposite when I was a senior so I didn’t really get it, but the relations eased a bit as camp went on, but sometimes it was a little odd.
After classes, we had journal time! I was lucky and I was paired with Dianna during the journal and we were able to tag-team the whole process. We basically wanted the students to write a standard five paragraph, persuasive essay in English, a pretty demanding task for most of my students. Nevertheless, they rose to the challenge and they started writing away. There wasn’t a ton of writing progress Day 1 since Dianna and I consumed a lot of that time, but most of them successfully chose their topics and started their introduction paragraphs so I was very happy with them all.
Okay, there is too much here. This is only Day 1! I need to finish the rest later haha. Just for everyone’s information, I am now in Busan, the 2nd biggest city in Korea and am teaching an English conversation/American culture class to University students and it’s awesome! I’ll say more about that later. Now I have to head back to my dorm and get ready to pick up Ammy, an ETA who is going to be a guest speaker tomorrow!! I’m really excited!!