Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Nametags

September25

It’s easy to feel lonely. I won’t even qualify that with a “when you live abroad” or a “when you live in a rural town.” At the risk of sounding pretentious, I think our inclination towards loneliness is an essential part of the human condition. Everyone has been lonely at some point in their lives – it’s something that ties us all together. It also helps us appreciate our connections with other people.

Today we had our GO GO QUIZ KING show. It was absolutely ridiculous. Do you know how many cameras it takes to film a game-show featuring students? Six. There were also three different emcees, six people working the cameras, six people sitting behind screens behind the cameras adjusting goodness knows what, three personal assistants, two really mean directors, at least ten people whose job was to set up and take down the equipment, and a whole slew of other people who ran around telling people where to go, to clap louder, to wave their hands in the air, etc. In addition, we had the entire first and second grade in the auditorium, as well as a fair amount of teachers. We spent the entire day (9 am to 4 pm) filming.

Our students had to wear their school uniforms and their nametags. As every homeroom was able to send three students, in order for the lucky chosen few to share their experience with their friends and classmates, they pinned a few of their friends’ nametags on their vests. Over that span of time, as students were slowly eliminated, the number of nametags pinned to the vests of the remaining students grew. The nametags were redistributed in that manner to the point where at the end, when it came down to the final five students, the remaining students’ entire vests were covered with their friends’ names.

Later a student who had competed complained that he was tired. I jokingly told him that it was because of all the nametags he had worn were very heavy. No teacher, he seriously replied, those were my friends. I am tired because I was nervous.

I think I’ll remember this as my favorite part of the day. Not the musical performance, or the rock band, or the dance competition, and especially not the part where I had to get up on stage in front of six hundred of my students and introduce a question in Korean, but the simple image of the final five students covered in plastic nametags, standing apart on stage but sharing their experience and in turn being supported by their friends and classmates.

Whenever I get lonely, if I can, I leave my apartment and I go to Sloth’s Coffee. From here I can see my school, and no matter how down I am I’m reminded that though I don’t have students’ and teachers’ nametags decorating my self, I have their support. Today when I got up on stage, hands shaking, and leaned into the microphone and said “여러분 안녕하세요” the applause was overwhelming. I have my community here, and sometimes it takes being lonely to make that fact so much more sweet.

posted under School
2 Comments to

“Nametags”

  1. Avatar September 25th, 2012 at 10:09 pm Amy Phillips-Iversen Says:

    I truly love reading your posts! So inspirational…


  2. Avatar September 28th, 2012 at 4:39 pm epotosky Says:

    Thank you, that means a lot :).


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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.