Monday, 4 January 2010

My Painful First Day of English Camp

Today was my first day of English camp.

All Guest English Teachers are obligated to continue working throughout winter vacation; therefore “camps” are set up at various schools to attract keen students who want to spend their vacation studying as much as possible to ace their exams come the following semester.

Ok that last part was a lie…

English camps are set up so that the ­parents­ can get rid of their kids all week, and maybe, just maybe, learn a thing or two by the end of camp. Or at the very least, tire them out enough so that they’re quiet by the time they get home…

The following is my schedule for the next five weeks:

Week 1: Gucheon Middle School (all grades) from 9:00-12:00.

Week 2: Gucheon Middle School (all grades) from 9:00-12:00.

Week 3: Bunam High School (all grades) from 10:00-1:30

Week 4: Bunam Middle School (all grades) from 10:00-1:30

Week 5: Bunam Middle School (all grades) from 10:00-1:30

Easy eh? Ya, I thought so too…

Last night, we had our first snowstorm of the year. And by snowstorm, I mean we actually only had a quarter of an inch of snow (which is a colossal snowstorm in this area) that shut down most of the country. Of course, I didn’t realize the impact of the “storm” until it was too late.

With my lesson plans in hand, I waited patiently for the bus to arrive. Normally, the buses run like clockwork, rarely more than one or two minutes early or late. I knew that the snow would slow things down, but when the bus didn’t show up after thirty minutes of waiting, I started to wonder if it was going to come at all. I decided to wait another fifteen minutes, and if it didn’t show up by then, I’d head back home.

Just as I was about to head back, the bus appeared in the distance. I hopped on board, and settled in for my less-than-comfortable ride through the mountains. If I had known what I was about to go through, I would’ve stayed at home…

The bus driver was quite obviously terrified by the snow-covered roads, and refused to drive faster than five or ten kilometers per hour. Approximately ten kilometers into our trip, at the base of one of the larger mountains, the bus driver stopped the bus, stepped outside, and began shouting as he paced back-and-forth. Several people on the bus stood up and began yelling back at him, and he refused to get back into the bus until he had finished a cigarette. I just sat there and held onto my seat belt…

He finally calmed down, stepped back onto the bus, and with a little shake, prepared himself for the climb up the icy slope.

Needless to say, it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as it looked. The bus effortlessly climbed the hill, and the bus driver (with his newly-found confidence) quickened his pace for the rest of the trek through the mountains.

It took nearly two hours for the thirty-kilometer trip, but we had made it safe and sound.

I approached the ticket lady and asked about the next bus time to Gucheon. She just stared at me with a puzzled expression and mumbled that there were no more. Because of the snow, all public transportation had been shut down. The bus that I had taken through the mountains was the last one of the day…

I pulled out my phone, called my co-teacher, and told her that I was trapped at the Bunam bus terminal. I expected her to tell me to try and head back home, but instead, she told me that she had an idea to still get me to Gucheon school. She needed to make a phone call, but she promised to call right back.

A couple of minutes later, she called back and told me to walk to the Chinese restaurant to be “delivered” to school.

Apparently, the delivery guy had snow tires, and was willing to “deliver” me to school if the teachers ordered food (which they gladly did).

I waited in the lobby of the restaurant until the food was ready, and hopped into the taxi waiting out front (yes, the delivery guy was also a taxi driver). I was squeezed into the back seat in between boxes of food and an old woman (I have no idea who she was or why she was there. Maybe she was being “delivered” too…).

He sped his way toward school, grumbling at all of the cars that had pulled off to the side of the road. Two and a half hours after I left home, I finally arrived at school.

I walked into class, and was shocked to find that every single one of my students were there. All thirteen of them. I began my lesson with some warm-up activities, a few icebreakers, and a short Pixar clip. Barely fifteen minutes into my main lesson, six of my students stood up, looked at the clock, and told me that they had to go. They explained that since there were no more buses, one of parents was going to come and pick them up. I continued my lesson with the remaining seven students. Twenty minutes later, one of the teachers came into class and said that he had to drive some more of the students home, so I watched as another five of my students left. With only two students remaining, I decided to drop my lesson, and teach them how to play scrabble instead…

At the end of the day, one of the teachers offered to drive me to the bus terminal. Since there were no more buses running back through the mountains, he proceeded to try and hunt down a taxi driver who was willing to do the dangerous trek.

The first taxi driver that arrived offered to drive me through the mountains for fifty dollars. The teacher negotiated him down to forty, but grabbed me at the last second before I was about to hop in the car. He noticed that the taxi didn’t have snow tires, so he refused to let me go with him. After a brief argument, the taxi driver drove away, and almost immediately another taxi pulled up. This taxi had snow tires, and the driver offered to drive me through the mountains for twenty dollars. It sounded too good to be true, but with a nod of approval from the teacher, I hopped into the taxi and headed home.

That was one hell of a first day of school. I don’t know how I am going to survive the week…

- Ken


  1. You're aging me by the day Ken with these stories!!!

  2. *Note to self ship snow tires to Ken for the following reasons: A) for the pure amusement of shipping snow tires across the world B) so Ken can turn himself into Cyborg and not need to pay cabbies to drive him into the mountains ! ^_^

  3. That is very funny...LOL....