It has been a strange few weeks here against the rural backdrop. I haven’t really left Sachang-ri for 4 weeks aside from going to school. I’ve been saving money which has been going well. I did get out of town twice and both occasions were for school related activities. The first was for an open class in Hwacheon. The purpose of which I have still yet to decipher. From what I can determine, I can only assume that the county like to spend a great deal of money on food for all of the teachers. We got taken out for lunch after the open class. An open class is like any normal class aside from the fact that every teacher in the county is invited to watch. This time a Hwacheon middle school teacher was giving a class on personalities. It followed the same structure of nearly every other ESL class I have seen as examples of effective teaching. I don’t buy it, and I think both us native teachers, the Korean teachers and the council all know there is a problem with ESL education in this country, but nobody really knows what to do about it. Their solution is to promote these workshops as open discussions about how to improve our teaching. They are not. They are like many other things in this education system, a waste of time.
Enough of the negative. The second trip was to a ski resort in Chuncheon with my school. I was asked to participate but after much deliberation I politely declined. I didn’t want to risk yet another knee injury and I don’t really see the point in these high risk sports. You know what kind of injuries you can get doing this stuff? Is it really worth it? I felt guilty for a time but I watched the kids learning to ski from the sidelines with several other teachers who were complaining about how bored they were. I don’t know why they all had to be there. However, much to the teacher’s surprise, I wasn’t bored. I quite like time to just sit and watch the world go by, so I had a fantastically relaxing day on the slopes. I got to mess about with the kids over lunch, there’s this one 2nd grader who loves poking me and calling me ugly. As long as he is using English, right?
I got a lift home that day from the school Taekwondo teacher who cordially invited me to join his Taekwondo club. I’m a sucker for being way too polite to people and it lands me in these awfully sticky situations. I don’t want to offend the guy, but, I don’t want to go to a Taekwondo class with children. I’m not a very sporty person as it is, especially when it involves any kind of violence. I also don’t want to do myself an injury. I just want to write my book, which I’ve finished by the way. Wink. Lot’s of editing to be done on it though. Anyway, I’m digressing. I now have to await the day when the Taekwondo teacher asks me if I’m going to join his class, you must always have excuses pre-prepared. I hope he understands that I don’t want to offend him but would rather not go. That brings me nicely back to the case against ‘boredom’. One of the reasons he invited me was because he thought I would be bored in the evenings as I’m in a small town in a country where I don’t speak the language and don’t have friends or family on call. The Taekwondo teacher told me about how he goes to India every year to teach Taekwondo (I think) and how he gets bored and lonely there. He said he understands how I feel. Erm, no you don’t. I don’t get bored or lonely, I actually quite enjoy the time I have alone to work on my creative bits and bobs. It reminded me of that old Barenaked Ladies line “if you’re bored then you’re boring.” I have plenty of friends here and we have a great time together, I get out of the house all the time and am never bored. It’s tough to explain that through Konglish and without breaking some kind of cultural sensitivity barrier. It doesn’t matter.
I found out my winter camp schedule today. I have it pretty easy. My camp runs for 3 weeks, my longest day is 3 hours, my shortest is 1 hour. I’m hoping it will be a fun time spent with the kids. I need to get planning some of the classes though, as of yet, I’ve got nothing. I'm going to start working on it tomorrow. I’m quite looking forward to the camps and then onto my winter vacation. Phew, time flies. I’ve been here for four months now.
I hope this blog didn’t sound too whiney. You’re lucky I didn’t write about K-Pop like I was going to. We’ll save that for next time.