Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea



I had a really cool experience yesterday.

I know that at this point I mostly use this blog to blather on about my school, so most a lot of people don’t know what I do from day to day. Mostly I just teach or lesson plan, however I also study Korean and volunteer with various organizations. One organization where I both volunteer and study Korean at is the GIC, the Gwangju International Center. The GIC is a nonprofit organization that provides services to international residents in Gwangju or the surrounding areas and promotes cultural exchange between local and international residents.

The GIC is currently in the process of relocating, and fundraising to cover the relocation effort. Every May, the GIC hosts a May Concert that showcases local and international talent, and this year the proceeds of the May Concert were going to the GIC. They needed two people, a Korean person and a foreign person, to host the event, so they asked me to co-host the event with a very nice Korean English teacher.

I’ve actually never hosted anything before, so it was a very new experience for me. I received my script on Monday and spent all week frantically studying it, then on Sunday as the concert started I walked up on stage with my co-host, smiled at the audience that I couldn’t see because of the blinding stage lights, and said

“여러분, 안녕하십니까.”

A ripple of surprised laughter rang through the audience, which quieted down as I continued to give our introductory remarks in Korean. After I finished, my co-host took the microphone and smoothly introduced the concert in English. You see, as I said earlier one of the GIC’s  core tenants is promoting cultural exchange between local and international residents, and thus the GIC had asked me to host the event in Korean, and my co-host to host it in English. We continued on this way, alternating between English and Korean, with little trip-ups, and slightly unnatural cadences, for the rest of the concert.

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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.