Last Week of School Experiences in Korea
Guest Post by Willynn Thompson
The 2016-2017 school year came to an official close in February, when I had my last week of school experiences in Korea. I went to my first end-of-the-school-year dinner. I watched and endured heart-rending speeches filled with tears and emotional fireworks from teachers that will be leaving the school.
I filled my belly with amazing food from the best buffet in town, VIESTA, (The food was so good – highly recommend!) I got stuck with energetic first graders in the computer lab for 45 minutes with no warning. Lastly, I survived another three days of endless hours of desk warming.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to be very flexible in Korea. I did not know about the farewell dinner until Wednesday. The dinner was on Thursday. It’s not an option all teachers have to attend; its protocol, culture and unfortunately mandatory.
As a foreigner, I hardly ever look forward to school dinners. This is mainly because most teachers are shy and hardly ever wants to speak English in public, in fear they will make a mistake.
It’s also the time when the foreign teacher is the focus of the attention because everyone is so worried about my taste buds and comfort. In many ways, I shouldn’t be complaining.
Those are all good things to be grateful for, but after a while, I just feel like I’m being constantly watched, like a kid at their babysitter’s house.
VIESTA is the Bomb Diggity!
If you happen to live or visit the Daejeon area in Korea, I highly suggest going to the VIESTA buffet. Oh my goodness, the food was the bomb-diggity! (That means awesome, just in case you need a translation.)
I’m usually not good with buffets. In the States, buffets are saturated with MSG, so I usually don’t go. I personally think it’s a waste of money. But, everyone kept on raving about this restaurant and I became curious.
There were so many different options of food and drinks. Ahhhh, it was food galore! I want to go again and again. But it’s definitely one of those restaurants you go to every few months; just to savor its greatness. The food was great just thinking about it makes me hungry.
45 Minutes Disappearance
As mentioned earlier. I got stuck with a bunch of energetic first graders in the computer lab for 45 minutes with no warning. I literally did not see it coming. The first-grade teacher asked if she could use the lab.
I said, of course, and took a seat at the back of the classroom to finish my work. I saw the teacher walk out of the classroom, thinking she would be right back. Nope, she never came back. She just disappeared! Of course, the students sought the opportunity to play tag and jump from one computer to the next. I had to stop my work and attend to these little ferocious humans.
I was able to calm them down and get them somewhat on task. (I had no idea what the task was, so I just rolled with it, as we ESL teachers often have to do.) The teacher came back 45 minutes later and got the students out of the computer lab as quickly as they came in. I would say that was the highlight of my uneventful week at school.
Surviving Desk Warming
For the rest of the week, I spent in front of my desk writing, reading, or planning for the upcoming school year. I was productive for the most part but extremely bored at times. Periodically I would leave the English office to watch the sixth grade prepare for graduation. At times I would have short fleeting conversations with the second-grade students. They started to say hi to me more often.
They must know I’ll be their teacher starting in March. Overall, my last week of school was relatively good. I’ve learned over the past year to just take everything in stride. It will make life so much more enjoyable.
Here are some links you might enjoy to help you through desk warming.
Willynn taught in the education field for three years. It was her curiosity and interest to see the world from a different perspective that lead her to Daejeon, South Korea. Willynn is currently working with young learners teaching English for EPIK in South Korea.
In her free time, Willynn loves to go on adventures with her husband, Micah, engage in language exchanges at coffee shops with the locals in her community. As well as participate at Open Mic events across Daejeon and Seoul sharing her spoken word pieces. Follow Willynn on Youtube or on WordPress.