Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Middle School

When you're living abroad facebook starts to become more important than checking out random friends pictures of food and drunken nights out.  Here it's used as a resource for teaching, living and working.  A few weeks ago I came across a post asking for native english teachers to help out with a middle school overnight field trip.  I emailed the guy, got some more information and figured why not? So last Saturday I found myself on the way to Daegu with Sara (who I dragged into this) for an overnight field trip with 30 middle school students.  We were sent the itinerary in advance (even in English this time!) but still weren't quite sure what we were in for. The up side - they decided they'd pay us even though it was originally supposed to be a volunteer position.

We met everyone in Daegu and were assigned to our groups.  There were six English teachers total and each of us were in charge of a group of five or six students.  Before meeting the students they explained that this was a government run English camp giving "underprivileged" students the opportunity to see more of Korea and have a chance to practice speaking English. It kind of helped that the students all came from different schools so there wasn't a problem with breaking up cliques or having best friends want to be together, everyone was starting fresh.
Students for the day
We boarded the bus and made our way to the science museum where were given a brief tour.  It was a lot smaller than I had expected but basically displayed the history of explosives and chemical weapons used during the Korean war.  It was nice having the students as their job for the day was to play translator for everything the tour guides said.  After the museum we drove the a 2km forest, seemed like a big idea according to the tour guide but wasn't quite that impressive.  We were given a random speech on one of the trees (two trees that actually grew into one and thus had magical powers) and then ate lunch in a random area on the side of the road.

Old tree - depending how you walk around it you will have a boy (left) or girl (right)
After lunch we got back on the bus and made our way to the observatory.  Our time spent here started with a "treasure hunt" game, turns out there were little scraps of paper hidden all around the gravel area that you were supposed to find.  No clues, hints or directions just go search for the paper scraps - I didn't find any, but for those who did they wont a random prize, lucky ducks.  Next on the schedule was T-shirt making and horseback riding, probably the highlight of the day, or so we though.  Turns out it was simulation horseback riding, who knew they even had such a thing! The T-shirts were pretty cool, each of us got one with our zodiac symbol on it, despite the fact that mine was backwards. They promised this wasn't a mistake - it was just important for the design, uh yeah sure - typical Korea.  We finished these activities faster then expected so they showed us how to make rice cake, let a few students practice with the mallet and yet we still had about an hour to kill.  I think by this point many of the students and teachers were tired, but we sat there taking pictures, playing games and talking.

Fake horses, of course

At 5:00 it was time for our "Mt. tracking" probably the last thing the kids wanted to do at this point but I was excited to be doing something.  Turns out the hike was more of a nature walk up the side of the mountain  hill with several stops so we could learn about the various plants (again thank you students for translating).  We made our way to a nearby restaurant for dinner and in typical teenager fashion were finished in about 10 minutes. Unlike any other field trip I've been on the day did not end here - up next was the observatory, which was actually pretty cool.  We got to see a 5D star show -although I had to close my eyes for a good portion of it, thanks to motion sickness, but the kids enjoyed it.  We also got to go up in the observatory but thanks to overcast skies didn't see much. Oh and I can't forget the short performance by the dancing robots - so random, but cute.

Finally it was time to go, we were supposed to be staying at a Military camp for the night but thanks to some issue with North Korea we instead found ourselves at a Minbak.  The rooms were decent and even came with added surprises - ants, bugs, and a frog in the shower! We helped the students prepare their presentations for the next day (favorite thing about camp and why) and then it was off to bed.  The foreigners got to share rooms (5 girls in one and the 2 guys in the other - a bit uneven) and before you knew it we were up at 7am for breakfast and day two.  We made our way to an army base where we were shown a few videos, looked around at the displays and then scheduled to participate in a survival game. When asked what this would entail the students mocked shooting each other, my first thought was water guns - but I was wrong, we were going paint balling!

I volunteered to be on the front line and picked off two from the other team before my gun ran out of amo, which happened an additional two times. I feel like I spent more time going back and forth from the field than I did actually playing.  Either way he game was fun but by the end we were dripping in sweat. 90 degree weather mixed with full amy suit, helmet/face mask and padded vest does not mix well. We ate lunch in a park area of the campus, beautiful scenerely - can't say as much about the food. Another lunch box but this time containing some mystery sausages, thankfully they had a bunch of watermelon for us after.  

After lunch we packed up and were back on the bus, this time on our way to the IMGO Confusion school - we were given a brief tour and then had free time in one of the classrooms. My students explained a good portion of the tour and information to me but what I remember is lacking.  The day ended with the students presenting their speeches about what portoin of the trip they liked best.  I must say I was blown away with the English abilities of many of these children.  Most of them are at a higher level than my High school students, and if they really did come from broken homes or were less fortunate you couldn't tell.

At the end of the day I was more than happy to be on a bus back home, wishing I had another weekends to relax from this one. I'm happy I went and the kids definitely made the trip worth it.  Some of the planning and organization could have been improved but even one of the camp leaders from the company claimed he could've done a better job - I'm kind of confused as to who's to blame/actually organized the schedule.  Anyways, it was a nice change of pace, meeting some new students and seeing parts of Korea that I probably wouldn't have seen if it weren't for this trip. 


  1. was this your first time paintballing? sounds like you liked it. not only this blog post, but many other have made me giggle at work and make my day much more enjoyable. too bad I'll be done reading your blogs within the next couple work days (if i don't read more when i'm at home, i'll try not to) and then work will be work once again. :(

    1. NO I played a few times before in the States...SO glad you're enjoying them! I'll get back at it and post some more so that you have something to entertain you at work :)