Friday, May 29, 2009

"So You Must Speak Korean?"

Every time I speak with someone new about moving to Korea to teach English, I undoubtedly hear, with some variations in phrasing, "so you must speak Korean!" The answer is no. Right now I do not speak Korean beyond the survival phrases like, "annyeonghaseyo" (hello), and "shillehagessumnida" (excuse me). I'll probably quickly learn "where's the toilet?" and "Do you speak English," but that will come soon . . . .

I was hired as an English teacher in the satellite city (to Seoul) of Gunpo-si, starting August 11, 2009. My phone interview went very well, was comfortable, and included lots of praise for my responses to questions--never a bad thing in a stressful situation!

I'll be working with 8-13 year-olds in a school on an upper level of an office building. When I told my grandma that, she said, "that's odd." I had a good laugh in my head, but agreed with her unconscious statement that schools in buildings without a football field and room for a wood shop aren't typical in rural or suburban America, at least. Talking with her also brought me face to face with the fact that this is the most radical move anyone in my family has made since my ancestors, the Tanems and the Anensens arrived here from Scandinavia 200+ years ago. One small step for Tieman; one giant leap for Tieman kind? I honestly LOVE to think so!

Here are some pictures of my school, Reading Town, taken by my replacee, Adam.

I like how new everything looks (not like most schools I've taught in). Korea has been rapidly modernizing in the last 20 years, so many buildings--from stores to apartments to schools--look very new.

Now would you look at those little moppets. The one with the black belt on the right can be my body guard. I don't know if I'll have these students, but I hope I get some cuties like these.