It has been a long time since I have updated my blog. Although much has happened since December 2015 - field trips, a summer spent at home and Fulbright English Program, new students, and beautiful moments teaching and learning - the truth is that the past two years have been the most difficult years of my (short) teaching career. I couldn't bring myself to write about even the good moments.
I have been through many trials and tribulations at GIS, and many times I found myself on the brink of giving up. There have been many moments when I have regretted, in some way, the decision to teach there. However, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have met some of my closest friends and confidants. I have to thank the friends who have stuck by and supported me through these two years of strife; I would have broken long ago without you. Thankfully, my time of struggle at GIS is over; I will be moving on to something bigger and better, and I'm genuinely excited for the future.
As of June 30th, 2017, I am no longer the English Language Arts teacher at GIS. In August, I will begin studying at Indiana University Bloomington for a Masters of Education in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education. Then, in October, I will be starting a new chapter in my teaching career at St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju. I couldn't be more excited for these opportunities to learn and grow, and to start this personal blog again. Please join me once again on my journey!
I woke up this morning to the sweet smell of cinnamon and baking pastry dough wafting upstairs. Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls; one of our family's Christmas traditions. Last night, after I got home, Mom and I set about decorating our mini-Christmas tree and setting up the porcelain village. Back when we lived in CO, we always had a large tree all dressed up, and the family room decked to the nines in Christmas spirit. These days, our celebrations are much smaller - Dad is living in CO, and Lauren has recently moved in with her boyfriend. There is no longer need to deck the halls.
Tomorrow, though, both Dad and Lauren will be here to celebrate. I'm looking forward to seeing them both, and to having dinner with Lauren and her boyfriend.
Later in the week, Mom and I will visit Grandma. She's 95 now, so every time I come home, I make it a priority to see her. Over the past year and a half, there have been several health scares that serve as a reminder of just how unpredictable and fragile life is. I wish I'd been able to see Granddad before he died as much as I see Grandma now. It's still a regret of mine that I didn't visit him in the hospital before my study abroad in France.
But, Christmas is not a time for regretting; it is a time for celebrating and appreciating those who surround us.
'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the skies
Flew a plane and a girl
Who heaved a great sigh
Home she was headed
With visions of kitty-cats
All in her head
After a hectic semester, I'm finally on my way home for Christmas break! I'll be recuperating for two weeks with my mom, my sister, and our four cats before returning for the second semester. I'm so excited to have these few weeks of a break because I need them. Adjusting to my new job has been stressful, to say the least, and I was starting to suffer from stress-related health issues. In the last three weeks, I've had a bad cold, a partially dislocated shoulder, and an aura-accompanied migraine. This migraine was particularly frightening, as, although I've had migraines all my life, I've never suffered from an aura before. It was the worst headache I've ever experienced.
The semester hasn't only been stressful; it's been drama-ridden, too. Some of the drama comes with teaching at a school where the students are all from very wealthy and well-to-do families, and some comes from the age of the school. I was prepared for none of it. I also wasn't the only one. It's only the end of the first semester, and already we've lost several teachers and even some of our administrative staff. Given how rough this semester has been on all of us, I'm not all that surprised, but it does make me worry about next semester. When teaching at a new school, anything can rock the boat and cause the school to fail. Our principal has told us not to worry, but I can't shake this bad feeling. I'm praying that I'm wrong.
There is a tradition at my school of giving cards signed by all the staff on a faculty member's birthday. Thus began my day.
I usually don't receive much on my birthday; it usually falls right at finals time or the start of winter break. So, often, my birthday is somewhat forgotten among people's busy schedules. So, the birthday card was a pleasant surprise, but not the only one I received.
Over the course of the semester, I've gotten to know several teachers well, including the Spanish teacher. At lunch, she and a group of other teachers brought out little chocolate muffins and began singing "Happy Birthday." We share the cafeteria with all the students, so now every student also knew it was my birthday.
This knowledge resulted in my third surprise of the day, and possibly the sweetest one. At the end of the day, I teach 8th grade English Language Arts. Well, today all the students were late to class. Just as I was about to go ask the school secretary where they all were, they burst into the classroom singing "Happy Birthday," and presented me with a mound of Chocopies topped with a few candles. Apparently, when they found out it was my birthday, they had snuck off campus during lunch to buy the Chocopies. They then used time in art class to make a GIANT card. So, after blowing out the candles, we gorged ourselves on those Chocopies and began our lesson.
I think the lack of birthday surprises from the past few years have been all made up today.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. These days, everyone knows the meaning and importance of these words. However, there are still many people who don't recycle or who have no understanding of how recycling programs work in their cities. This group includes many of our students, so our volunteer day this month involved going to the Gangnam-gu Recycling Center.
Located just outside the city, it took us about 20 or minutes or so to get to the center. Once there, the students sat in a lecture space where a center employee talked about how recycling works in Korea. We watched a short video as well before the students donned vests and gloves to help sort some of the recyclables.
We went to 3 different areas, including one for Styrofoam, all located underground. At each location, our guide explained to the students how to sort and recycle the material. Then, the students did some sorting before moving on to the next location. Most of the sorting occurred at the Styrofoam area.
All in all, the visit took around an hour, which honestly didn't seem like enough time for volunteering. The center also didn't make an effort to involve the teachers. I wish there'd been a bit more to do at the center.
As a secondary English and foreign language educator, Katherine has spent the past 5 years teaching in South Korea. She is an enthusiastic educator who believes in the potential of every student, and strives to make an interactive, engaging learning environment to promote inquiry and learning.
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