Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

Graduation

February8

I’m back at CPHS for the first time in over a month and screams are echoing through the halls. It’s graduation day, so spirits are high. First and second grade students are running around in the halls like wild things (though, let’s be frank, when do they not), and the third grade students are almost unrecognizable covered in makeup, wearing street clothes, and with their dyed hair and contact lenses. It’s almost frightening to think that in March I could run into one of my former students in the street, at a coffee shop, or heaven forbid a bar, and fail to recognize them.

I just received the paper that lists the statistics and facts surrounding graduation (the number of students going to the top schools, the exact day and date of each graduation in the history of CPHS, who will scholarships) and something struck me – every single student graduated. Every student. My high school is a high-achieving magnet school so there’s no reason anyone should fail, but I compare that with my high school and I’m flabbergasted. The students that will graduate are the first group of students I taught at CPHS, and though I only taught them for a semester I really enjoyed that experience. They got me when I was new to CPHS and still learning the ropes, and not at my best, but they were great to me anyway. Across the country, another group of students dear to my heart has graduated, or will graduate soon. That group of students are the students I taught as first graders at SGHS, and my host sister is one of the many who will be graduating. The CPHS graduation ceremony starts in less than thirty minutes, and though it was a long trip from Seoul, and though I’m missing a day of Korean classes, I’m so thrilled to be here.

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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.