The new semester finally starts and I’m relieved to finally be back to teaching a regular timetable after two months of deskwarming and attempting to keep myself occupied. I’m also curious to meet the new teachers since the kiwis and I were at a training session in Buan when the school had a farewell dinner to say goodbye to the teachers who were transferring to other schools and to welcome the new teachers to my school.
One of my new co-teachers seems very reserved and I sense it’s going to be difficult to get to know her. She seems to dislike me and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that seems so strange. I’m a little disappointed to hear that I’ll be teaching half of my classes with her because things feel very strained at the moment. However, I’m thrilled that I’ll be teaching the other half of my classes with my fantastic co-teacher of last year and feel optimistic that things will even out in some way. Plus, lessons this year will be far more guided and structured since we will be working from a textbook instead of just a vague syllabus.
Opening Ceremony - Korean Style
The opening ceremony in the auditorium is an interesting experience. With the presence of several parents – presumably of the freshmen students – there are no seats left and I’m surprised to discover that the auditorium is actually rather hot. It’s an uncomfortable 40 minutes but rather enlightening too.
I don’t understand anything that’s being said but I’m guessing it is the usual “welcome to our school, we hope you’ll be happy here and work hard” spiel that is usually given at the start of a new school year. The surprising part, however, is when all of the freshmen stand while a representative for the grade stands directly in front of the podium behind which the principal is standing, and reads an oath on behalf of all of the freshmen. I later learn that this is the agreement that students stand by to honour the school, respect their seniors and always promise to do their best in all their efforts while they are students of this school.
Once the oath has been read, the freshmen turn to either their left or their right (whichever is closest to the aisle) while the senior students, who are seated in the outside rows, stand and turn to face the freshmen: they all then bow to each other before leaving the auditorium to commence their classes. It’s an interesting start to the school year and just one of the many cultural differences I respect and enjoy watching.