I didn't realize it had been months since I've posted a blog, but I have caught myself in the eye of the hurricane the last several weeks as many things have been going on. I am currently preparing for my summer English camp which starts tomorrow. The school semester had just concluded a mere hour ago, and now I'm sitting here in an empty school now. How surreal that only 6 months ago that I started my first day with my students. Not to mention, I had a few chaotic things that happened from my school laptop issues, losing my cell phone before a nice Korean found it and called my school, andbroke, and losing my USB disk, so I've had re-create all my documents that I had lost. Oh, and that terrible fever that's been bothering me, as well as the great monsoon weather I'm in. :-)
But things can't all be that bad, right? Oh, and I found out that two of my Korean co-teachers will not be here for next semester. One of them is my head co-teacher, and the other, recently left for another school, thus creating a mess with the 1st year classroom alignment. Both of them have been very helpful and supportive since my first day at Deokcheon Middle School. I am incredibly grateful for their support, and at the same time, I am also sad that I will not continue working with them. I can only hope that whoever replaces them will be just as kind and welcoming the way those two have been to me.
Okay, so now let's focus on the positives. Things really have been better than I expected. My school has been generally supportive of me and my teaching, as well as my students. There have been rocky moments though, as the semester grew on, I found myself trying harder to motivate my students. I also had to change the way I communicate with my students. The biggest problem that I swore I would never do was making myself very accessible to my students. I would visit them during their break time, thus making myself more of a friend to them. This, however, has given students the idea that I'm an easy pushover, and as the "fun teacher." As a result, I've had classroom management issues, especially during lunch time when students visit the English-only zone. So, I had reached a boiling point several weeks ago, and discussed these issues with my co-teachers.
Since then, I've made my presence far less visible in the hallways. I've established some new and consistent punishments, and have reached a consensus agreement with my teachers in terms of classroom management and student-centered learning. In the end, it has worked to everyone's advantage, though the last 2 weeks have been a bit difficult because students are done with their finals. So, my first semester has hit its bumps, but nowhere near enough to break my spirits.
With the first semester about done, I am looking forward to a stronger 2nd half. Hard to fathom that I've been here for nearly 6 months, and enjoying my new life abroad. The weather has been quite abysmal this month because of monsoon season. Just about everyday, it has been pouring, and not to mention, the unbearable humidity that has blanketed the southern part of Korea. But really, with my students, I never realized both how much fun and hard work that is included with this opportunity. Though as I lamented above about my students' rowdiness, they have been incredible, and they've become more and more like little brothers to me. I find myself shooting some hoops with them, or running into them near my neighborhood. So there are times when the "Teacher Randy" name comes off, and I'm simply being me.
Since my blog, I celebrated my 26th birthday at Jagalchi fish market with my new friends which was an unforgettable time. I am trying to get back into shape by playing basketball, and restricting my diet just a bit :-). I am hoping to hit the gym once summer break is over, and even join some clubs now that my Korean classes have concluded.
Speaking of Korean classes, I am picking up the language pretty slowly. I can read the letters, though I don't know what most of it means LOL. However, I can read my students' names, read subway stops, and other essential things. In fact, my Korean skills will probably no doubt surpass both my Viet and Cambodian speaking skills (which isn't much to begin with).
I recently bought my airplane tickets to Vietnam. I am definitely excited about this upcoming adventure. I will go with my uncle who will fly into Incheon airport from Florida. This will be the first time that I will visit my family homeland. It is rather nerve-racking to say the least because I am heading into unchartered territory, let alone a country still in 3rd world poverty. However, as far as I've been told by others, Vietnam is quickly developing into a tourist destination, and it will be great once and for all to revisit my family roots. I can only imagine at how emotional this trip could serve for both me and my family. I will be gone from August 9th to August 17th.
Well I hope you guys are doing well back home. Thanks again for keeping tabs with me, and I will look forward to our future correspondences. Have a great summer folks!즐거운 시간 보내세요!
Randy 김 랜디