Friday, 28 August 2009

Meeting our Co-Teachers

The bus ride from Jeonju University wasn’t at all what I expected it to be like.

Our new lives were about to begin. I had imagined an over-packed bus filled with bubbling newbie teachers, dying of excitement, reeking of anticipation. Open soju bottles, loud music, and enough energy to run a small village. Obviously, I lived in Montreal way too long…

We were finally finished our training, and the 10 long “death-by-powerpoint” days were showing in everyone’s eyes. The drive was a little over 2 hours long, and aside from the occasional announcement from our Province of Education leaders it was relatively quiet. I can’t speak for the others, but I was horribly exhausted. My batteries were done. I was tired of being “herded” around, over-saturated with information about what lay ahead for the upcoming year, and most of all, I was tired of living out of a backpack.

I don’t usually have a problem with living out of a backpack and not having a permanent bed. But this time, Jess and I were dragging close to 200 pounds of gear with us halfway around the world. Literally. There’s nothing I wanted more than to open them all up, spread my clothes everywhere, and not think about a backpack for a whole year.

2 hours went by quickly. We stopped in Gumi for a quick lunch, and took off again for a short drive across the city to meet our co-teachers. I wish I had taken a video of the scene as we pulled up.

Our Province of Education leader said it best:

“When I was in your position, pulling up in the parking lot to meet my co-teacher, I felt like a puppy at a pet store about to be adopted”.

She was absolutely right.

As our bus pulled up towards the parking lot, we were met by at least 50 very, very, very excited Korean people holding up signs, nameplates, or pictures. They stared, pointed, waved, and tried desperately to locate their Native English Teachers as our buses came to a halt.  

Within 5 seconds of exiting the bus, a small Korean woman approached me with a piece of paper with my name printed on it in size 108 font. She whisked me out of the crowd towards her car where several other teachers from my school were waiting for me. They approached me one at a time with a bow, a handshake, and a quick “nice to meet you”.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on the vibe that I initially received from them, but it seemed to be a mixture of awkward over-politeness, nervousness, and relief. They had worked extremely hard in preparation for our arrival, and everything had finally come together.

We picked up our luggage, hastily said our goodbyes to the many, many wonderful people we met during orientation, and took off towards our new home.

- Ken

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