Thursday, 22 August 2013

Special Days at ECC

I guess it’s about time for another update on my current situation. I’m ten months into a year-long-contract with YBM ECC, so my time in Korea is almost at an end. Or at least, it should have been. For most of this year Angela and I had been planning to leave the country upon completion of my contract in late October. We were excited at the prospect of escaping to warmer, more exotic locales before the Korean winter struck again.

A few months ago, however, Angela’s employers decided to throw a spanner in the works by offering to extend her contract until next March. Her response would have been a simple "no thanks" if only they hadn’t offered to give her a raise and employ me as well. After much consideration we decided it would do us good to stay an extra four months. We need more money if we want to visit all the countries we have in mind for our trip, and even if we’re tired of teaching, at least for the last four months we’ll be living together.

So, from November to March I’ll be going Gangnam Style: living and working in Gangnam, and sharing an apartment with Angela. It’ll be the first time either of us have lived with a partner, so we’re excited despite how hard is to be enthusiastic about work. I don’t think we’ll be doing as much weekend exploring during our last four months, as we really want to knuckle down and save as much as we can, so this blog might get a little quieter during winter. But we’ll still partake in the occasional adventure or sightseeing trip, and it won’t take long for March to come round, when we’ll be going on the adventure of our lifetimes, something I plan to document on this blog in some form or another.

I guess this post also seems as good a place as any to post some pictures from my time at YBM ECC Gwangmyeong, the school I’ve taught at for almost a year, and a place filled with memories that I'll cherish forever. I’ve had ups and downs here but I’ll always look back on it fondly. It’s thanks to this school that I’ve been able to have such an exciting and busy year teaching in a country that I previously knew little about. I've made lots of new friends, encountered amazing new places, and gained a really profound respect for teachers everywhere. It’s not an easy job, and I can’t imagine how tough it would be doing it as a full-time career.

Here are some photos of some of the “special days” we’ve celebrated at my school since March of this year, when the new academic year began.

In March we celebrated Saint Patrick's Day. As you can see, everyone wore green, and we did a variety of Irish-themed activities with the kids.
Harvard class eating green food at snack-time.
Hunting for four-leafed clovers.

In April we celebrated Easter, which involved hunting for eggs and wearing yellow clothes.

We also had an easter-themed catwalk.

Also in April was Earth Day, in which we taught the children the importance of recycling waste and looking after the planet.
Harvard Class display their certificates, which they received for correctly dividing different forms of litter into recycling trays.
We also helped the children make miniature models of Earth.
Around May we held TV-Turn-Off Week. I gave out certificates to my students for not watching TV for a whole week.

In June we celebrated Pajama Day.
Me and Roxie-Teacher with the three darlings of UCLA.
I was referee for several pillow fights.
Putting star stickers on our astrological charts.
The kids seemed to love doing yoga and cucumber therapy.

A contest to build the tallest tower out of blocks.

Probably the least fun part of Pajama Day: us foreign teachers being force-fed snacks by the students in an eating competition (which I won, surprise surprise).
I think we might have been okay with all this if only the children had been made to wear gloves.
In July we held a special ECC Logo Song contest, in which each class had to do a dance to ECC's theme tune. I did mine with UCLA class. We had to learn the lyrics and practice the dance together for several weeks.
Also in July was our 100th Day of School (when counting from the start of the academic year in March). The kids made the number 100 out of various objects.
Lauren-Teacher with Princeton Class.

This month we held a Flea Market. The kids had to buy and sell at different stalls. Here's Lewis browsing the beauty salon, with Jenny and Vicky as vendors.
Carmen-Teacher does some face-painting.
For the flea market I worked behind the snack bar, selling lots of tteokbokki (a delicious, spicy Korean snack) and drinks to the students.

I really don't do enough blog entries about my school, considering it's the place I spend most of my time. Despite how exhausted I am, and how eager I am to travel, I'm actually going to miss this place a lot. Posting these photos reminds me of some of the fond, happy moments I've had here, and it will be fun to look over them again in the distant future. I'm also excited for the remaining special days we'll be celebrating, especially chuseok (expect an entire blog post for that one)!


  1. I envy you Jim. It looks like you've had a blast! Sorry to hear it's starting to tire you out, but great news that you'll be going travelling after you and Angela are done. I can't wait to read all about it :-)

    1. Thanks, Adrian! I'm tired but still enjoying my life here for the most part. Can't wait to go travelling though!