Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Teacher's Day and Sports Day (Again)

Teacher's Day

May 15th is Teacher's Day here in Korea, and unlike "Teacher Appreciation Week" in America, Teacher's Day is actually a big deal here.  Last year we still had to go to school on Teacher's Day because the country was in mourning after the Sewol Ferry accident, but this year the teachers of Mungyeong gathered at a local college for a big volleyball tournament.

Every school had a tent set up, where there was of course lots of food and alcohol. I should mention all the students had this day off, so while there was a lot of drinking, it wasn't like there were students running around.

Every school had a girls and a boys team, and since I now have four different schools, I pretty much had at least one school playing at all times, so I just did my best to watch them all at some point.  Since this is Korea, of course the schools take this competition super seriously, and most teams had been practicing after school for quite some time.

I spent most of the day walking around and watching my different schools play, and from time to time being pulled over to a tent and given beer. The girl's team at one of  my schools made it all the way to the finals, but unfortunately didn't win. At the end of the game I was with one of my friends from town when her school called us both over to come drink with them. Since I was with her school, I think this is how I managed to get out of being pulled to any kind of teacher's dinner, which was quite alright with me, because it meant that I got to go home early and enjoy Friday afternoon. Overall, not such a bad day.

Sport's Day

Most schools had their Sports Days towards the beginning of May, so when I went to my Friday school a few weeks ago, I was shocked to see that it was Sports Day--I had assumed they had already had it. I essentially had a repeat experience of what happened to me in the fall at this school--I walked in and all of the teachers were in their sports clothes and I definitely was not.  I was actually in a dress and a new pair of shoes I thought I would wear to break in (we usually change our shoes when we get to school, but since we were outside the whole day, I had to keep them on the whole time). I certainly wasn't dressed for the occasion, but I came to school expecting to teach six classes, and instead I got to sit outside and watch the kids have fun, so I definitely wasn't complaining.

Welcome to Korea, where they sell baby hamsters at Sports Day

Overall, Sports Day was good, but pretty much the same as the fall, so I won't go into much detail about it. The good thing is this time around I knew the kids much better, so I think it was more enjoyable for me.  As I watched them throughout the day, I couldn't help but think about how much they have grown in the nine months I've been teaching them. They are suddenly looking so much bigger than the kids I remember meeting in the fall, and it does make me sad to think that soon I'll be saying goodbye to them.

Of course, the day didn't end with sports day.  On days like this there are almost always teacher dinners, but I was going to try to escape without getting dragged into it.  Not that I don't like my co-workers, but on a Friday evening I'm usually ready to get home.  However, on my way to the bus that afternoon I ran into the principal and in Korean he asked me if I was coming to dinner.  I may have acted like I didn't understand (ok, I did), but he gestured to bring me to the teacher's room, where my CT told me about dinner and asked me to join.

Since you can't really get out of these things in Korea, I agreed, and I'm actually really glad I did. I got a new CT at this school this semester, and she has been really good.  It was nice to spend time with her and the rest of the teachers, especially since I'm only at this school one day a week now.  I've also never seen any of them drink so much/been forced to drink so much with them, so that was a new experience. I've also somehow made it almost two years in Korea without going to a noraebang with my co-workers (this is totally abnormal), but that finally changed. Teachers were even singing and dancing when we were in our room at the restaurant, so naturally noraebang was our next place. I was surprised, but relieved that the night ended up being so fun--after the rough first semester I had with this school, I'm happy to have it end on a better note.

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