It’s 1:20 in the afternoon, and it’s already been a long day. Right when I was beginning to think I had my responsibilities figured out here in Korea, they throw me a curve ball first thing in the morning. Now I need to rethink everything I was beginning to solidify.
Allow me to back up some; especially since, according to some recent Facebook chatter, it would appear that a lot of people have no idea why Eric & I are even in Korea in the first place. Basically we missed the culture and I asked my contact here in Korea (from the last time we were here), Belle, if coming to Korea would be a good idea for us right now. She very enthusiastically invited us to be a part of the Galilee Methodist Church’s Vacation Bible School here in Cheonan for the summer. That hasn’t started yet (I think it begins next week… You’ll start to notice that we’re both very fuzzy on most details concerning what we’re doing here). In the meantime we’re going to be helping lead a children’s Sunday School in English on Sunday afternoons (our first one is this coming Sunday… We’ll see what happens). Mondays & Tuesdays are our days off. Then on Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays we’re expected to hang out in the church office for 8 hours a day. (I have no idea what Saturdays will be like… Guess we’ll find that out soon though!)
Since we’re still having a really rough time with this jet lag business we’re both still waking up ridiculously early, and we don’t have to be in to the church until 10:00. So on our first day (this past Wednesday) in the 5 hours before we had to go in to the church we decided to try to prepare in case they threw us into a children’s English class on the first day. Just in case. It was good thinking to prepare, too bad we prepared for the wrong thing though.
We arrived at the church sweating already in Korea’s thick humidity (and because we’re required to cover up our tattoos, so we’re both wearing long sleeves) and wandered around aimlessly looking for anyone who might know what we were suppose to be doing. Finally we were brought into “our office” and had a “meeting” with a couple of the pastors. They asked if we could be a part of a children’s class from 4:00-5:00 in the afternoon. Perfect, we’d prepared! They also asked if we could each lead an English class to their adult staff from 10:30-11:30 in the morning. I slowly said “Sure…” wondering how you help adults learn English. With kids you play games and sing songs and colour pictures. Not the kinds of things it seems adults would be keen on. As soon as I’d finished dragging out “Suuuurrrrre…..” as long as I could without getting things too awkward, the pastor stood up grinning, and gestured me towards a room down the hall. Oh crap, it was 10:30 now, I was about to begin leading a class I hadn’t even known about 30 seconds earlier, without even a vague idea of what to do!
Turns out it wasn’t so bad at all. Eric is in with the male staff, about a half dozen guys in their 20’s with varying degrees of English comprehension, and I’m with the women staff… Consisting of one girl who’s probably about 85% fluent in English. Oh and also, she’s a fashion design major in college. I can totally handle this. I spend the next two classes using her to teach me all about Korean culture, traditions, and politics (super fascinating to hear a young native South Korean talk about her feelings on the North Korean threat) while we practice her conversational skills. I just need to keep her talking, and it’s going pretty well. Like I said earlier, I’d finally begun to get my responsibilities here figured out.
Then today, when all I’d prepared were some more in-depth conversational topics, I show up to the classroom to find 3 other woman sitting at the table. Two know some English vocabulary, and one knows literally nothing. I kind of froze up. Turns out they were expecting me to have a work book with lesson plans. Say what now? So that was kind of on the horrendous side. I do remember how random things can be here in Korea, and I thought I’d prepared for the suddenly unexpected, but I guess I didn’t prepare very well… I fumbled through that class as best I could, eyeing the clock and taking notes on how I will be prepared for next week’s classes. Yeah. So that was this morning.
As far as the rest of the 8 hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, we’re both expected to eat lunch in the church cafeteria (seriously delicious Korean cafeteria food. And we’re very grateful for the free lunch) and then hang out in our office until 6:00. On Wednesday at 4:00 we expected at any minute that someone would fetch us and bring us to wherever our children’s English class was. Around 4:30 we found out that they hadn’t actually set it up yet, but that it might be starting next week. Because, of course, it’d be absolutely ridiculous to expect us to start teaching a class immediately. I mean, come on, we need time to prepare, right? … Oh Korea.
So yeah. We hang out in the office all afternoon. Doing… Well. What I’m doing now I guess. That plus sketching, reading, doodling on the white board… I guess the church just likes having some native English speakers hanging around, but it does feel super weird that besides the morning class for an hour, we’re really not expected to do anything… Anyways.
Sorry this is a super word-heavy post. I usually try to break things up more with photos. So, here’s some photos of what we’ve been doing to occupy our time while we’re hanging around the office: