Thursday, September 29, 2011

Made in Japan

Interestingly enough, I found out that students from other countries come to English Village as well.  The first week I was here, there was a group of Russian students who were here taking classes.  They were certainly a handful…and, unfortunately, none of them brought any good vodka, which would have made dealing with them quite a bit easier.

A few weeks later, we had a group of about 18 students come over from Japan.  Many of us were surprised, especially considering that Koreans pretty much hate Japanese folks.  (If you want to know why, Google it.)

Well, we teachers all agreed that we’d be happy to replace our unruly Korean students with this group ANY day.  When they first arrived they were overwhelmingly shy and quiet, but over time, they began to come out of their shell, and we had one of the best weeks since my arrival with our Japanese students.  They were sweet, loved to participate, and best of all, they were very well-behaved.  There were two girls who had extremely high English communication skills because they attend International Schools in Japan, but even the other students were able to successfully communicate as well.

One of the best nights we had was during Dance Party.  (Yes, there’s really a class called “Dance Party.”)  In order for me not to become tragically bored with the God-awful chicken dance, hamster dance, and Macarena, I have to entertain myself by teaching some of my favorite urban dances.  So, once I took over it was time for “Teach Me How to Dougie” and “The Wobble.”   I grabbed my camera, which, thankfully, has a video function, so I recorded my students doing “The Wobble.” 
I apologize for the jumpiness of the video, but I was recording while I was also dancing, because the students were copying whatever I was doing. 

Note: I do have a video of the comedy that transpired during “Teach Me How to Dougie,” however, one of the other teachers asked that I not post that video on the internet, so I will respect her wishes.  However, if you happen to see me on the streets, feel free to ask me to see it…it’s PRICELESS!  Ha!

The apple of everyone’s eye was this little kid named Ryo…and I have to agree, he was the cutest kid ever.  Not to take anything away from the other kids, but he was just adorable. He wore this cute purple hat every day, and we all wanted to swipe it. Believe me, if I could wear regular hats, I would have tried to buy it from him!  (In the slideshow below, there’s a picture of him from when I put him in charge of holding the clipboard for the class.)

When the week came to an end, we were all quite sad when it was time for them to leave.  I hadn’t seen so many teachers taking pictures of and with students since I arrived…and we urged them all to come back again next year.  (Trust me, this ain’t the Apple Store…at EV you have to be really awesome to get an Invitation to Return! LOL)  So, here’s hoping that we get to see them again next year…

Next Up: Party Like a RoKstar

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breaking the Mold

Sniff, sniff…

What’s that smell?


Yep, you read correctly: MOLD.

EV has a serious problem with mold, and no one seems to be concerned about it. They certainly should be, because, while there is some green mold,  most of it is that nasty black mold….you know the kind that I’m talking about…

The kind of black mold that crept up the walls of flooded houses after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  The kind of black mold that, when inhaled in large quantities, will cause serious respiratory issues.  The kind of black mold that exudes a stench so strong and horrible that it will bring a grown person to tears.

Yep, that kind of mold.

Despite the fact that mold is a common problem here, there are NO mold abatement processes employed to remove it, prevent it from growing, or eliminate the problem altogether.  Their solution: Paint over it.  Yeah….like that really works.

We have several classrooms and facilities that I won’t even go to because the smell will knock you out as you come in the door.  You can’t actually see the mold anywhere in there, but it lives in the carpets, the furniture, and the walls—behind all that white paint.

On the surface, EV looks like the picture of all things well-manicured, but, when you look closer, that’s not really the case.  When I arrived, the landscaping and shrubs were severely overgrown, and continued to get worse.  I took the pictures below a couple of weeks before they finally decided to hire people to make the place look like it wouldn’t be overrun with weeds in the next few seconds.  It looks a lot better now, but there’s still quite a bit of work that needs to be done.

In speaking with a coworker that has been here a lot longer, she says that EV used to be a really beautiful place that was always in top-notch condition.  However, over the years, as priorities have shifted and budgets have been cut, some of the important things are being allowed to slip through the cracks.

But, I venture to say, that if they let these things fall through the cracks that affect quality of life and working conditions for the people that work here, they’ll be letting quite a few employees fall through the cracks as well.

Next Up: Made in Japan

Puppy Envy

So those of you who know me know that I’ve wanted to get a dog since FOREVER, but, due to various living situations and circumstances, I haven’t been in a position to get one.  So I arrived at the English Village, and it seemed like EVERYone had a pet!  Dogs and cats abound!  Everything I read before coming here led me to believe that it was just an incredible hassle to have pets here in Korea as an English teacher, but here at EV, it seems to not be a problem at all.  (I’ll have to survey teachers in other schools and cities to see what things are like where they are.)

Exactly 2 weeks into my stay, on Monday, August 15, my friend Caleb surprised us all and came back to EV with the cutest little Yorkie!  I didn’t actually see him come back with the dog, someone else did, but word gets around here faster than it did in high school. LOL

I had to work until 9 that evening, so I went to visit straightaway after clocking out. I start in on a 20 Questions session to find out about how this particular Yorkie came to be the newest EV resident. 

Apparently, there’s a veterinary clinic south of Seoul called Dr. Pet that has animals available for adoption.  And, for the small amount of 50,000KRW, a little Yorkie named Sam joined the ranks with all the other EV mascots.

Later that week, we ventured to the vet to have Sam checked out, and make sure he was a healthy little rascal.  Unfortunately, things did not work out in our favor.  (I like how I just used “our” as if Sam is my dog, too! LOL)  It turns out that Sam had heartworms and needed extensive treatment, which is still in progress as of this blog’s publishing date.

Despite all of this, hanging out with Sam has done nothing to quell the enormous amount of puppy envy that I have.  I almost responded to a post on a website from someone who was moving to Oman and was GIVING AWAY her Yorkie because she couldn’t take it with her.  It was hard to resist, but I did.  Oh well, in the meantime, I have Sam, as well as my Soror’s dog, Bruno (pictured below) to keep me company.

Up Next: Breaking the Mold

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Village People

What would an English Village be without the Village People?
Well, it certainly wouldn’t be English, I can tell you that!

The English Village employs around 80-something foreign teachers in its various programs.  We have teachers to represent each of the countries from which South Korea allows its English Teachers: USA, Canada, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland.  With so many different backgrounds, there’s a slew of different personalities and accompanying accents, but overall, it’s a fun place to work. 

These are pictures of many of the folks I work with….

Up Next: Puppy Envy