As always, the beginning of a new semester means a lot of preparation work. But this time around is a little bit different, which means we're even busier.
Our new principal and vice principal have arrived at Hambak. We had a staff dinner last Friday to greet them along with the many new teachers. Teachers in Korean public schools have to rotate every four years, so each new year brings a lot of new faces.
Some of the new teachers are pretty cool. I had nice conversations with a few of them, including one unfortunate chick who is basically a freshman teacher, but was given the terrible responsibility of homeroom teacher for a first grade class. Nightmare for her.
The new principal was very nice, even letting me take the welcome shots in place of Ridia and our new assistant, Hye Yun. The former principal and vp were not big on letting that happen. There's actually a word in Korean for taking a shot in place of someone. Yes, it's that serious. I don't remember the word, because I only hear it when I'm tagging in for someone.
The new vice principal was really cool. We got to know her a bit better than the principal. I sat next to her for about an hour, just chatting and drinking. It's always a hesitant time when new administration comes. We never know if they're going to want to change things, and the English center is always a prime target for an administrator looking to make his or mark on a school.
Our outgoing principal left us with the terrible gift of switching around our whole afternoon class. The changes include decent things like adding students from the other schools that come for morning classes, and bad things like stretching all afternoon classes to 50 minutes. Forty minutes was almost ideal. Fifty minutes stretches things quite a bit.
So things are up, but I'm sure we'll be fine. As long as Ridia is in charge, I'm confident.
On a personal note, my friends and I started a Korean study/discussion group. I've never studied with fellow foreigners before. I just worked on my own, and of course with my Korean friends (especially my lovely lady, Jeong Mi).
The group includes Pel, Popper and Onson. Onson has the most studying experience, while Pel has been hitting the books a lot within recent months. Popper has been in Korea the longest out of any of us, and while he lacks any formal studying, he has a strong base of vocabulary and phrases.
The group works as a discussion group. We pick a topic and, on our own, have to fill out at least one page of our notebooks with vocabulary, phrases and anything else that might be pertinent to the topics. Then, we meet a week later and have a discussion all in Korean for 30 minutes. After the time is up, we share our notebooks with each other, and ask any questions we might have in English. I am moderating the group as far as keeping the discussion going and asking questions when necessary.
We had our first discussion last night, and the topic was food and restaurants. We had plenty of stuff to fill the 30 minutes. It went really well. I only had to remind Popper a couple times that even asking questions in English is not allowed during the 30 minute time period. Questions have to be saved for afterward.
Everyone showed up on time with their notebooks filled. I'm pretty excited to see how quickly we'll advance our speaking skills. It's definitely going to be beneficial for all of us. Just sharing our ideas and hearing different voices will help us. Also, when Jeong Mi is around, it's really nice. I think she enjoyed sitting in. She got to see exactly how my study group with her will run. We'll have our first English discussion on Wednesday.
So there it is. It's a new semester and big things are happening. Spring is here and it's time for soccer and baseball games. All is well.