Archive for the ‘YDAC’ Category

Student Profile: EC

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

EC was one of my YDAC participants, and the only one that after her interview I was 100 percent sure about. Out of the second grade girls there were three that I thought would do a good job, though I only had two spots, and while SJ a top candidate, his interview wasn’t to the same caliber as EC’s. EC’s interview was miles ahead of anyone else’s, and her essay was amazing as well. The last paragraph of her application essay (the topic of which was “why is diplomacy important”) went like this:

“It’s a period that a little change of one country can influences the whole world. In the sensitive and changeable situation like this, becoming a closed country is similar to choosing a self-destruction. Today, what we need is a interaction and it requires a proper diplomatic relationship. This world is covered with a lot of dominos that transfer incessant discoveries and innovation from one country to the whole world. we have to remember it is no wonder that stationary water without change become spoiled.”

Remember, this is a fifteen year old girl. What impressed me most about EC was not her English (though, out of all four students she had the best writing ability), it was her grasp of complex topics, and her ability to process and write about them in a foreign language.

I have a word document for every single class upon which I write my post-class thoughts.  I noticed EC on my first day of class, and  wrote about her afterwards. She had approached me, and asked in almost flawless English, how she could improve her English. She mentioned that  she likes to read English novels in her free time, and she used to have an American penpal.

If I had to describe EC in two words, it’d be “hard worker.” She works harder than almost any student I know. In my English classes, when I ask them to write one sentence, she writes two. Just for practice. She constantly carries around flashcards to quiz herself. She’s easily in the top of her class. Even for the competition, she was constantly doing extra work – emailing me mock questions, and extra graphs that she had found, asking me to proofread them for her.

The problem is, her family doesn’t quite see it that way. Her father’s a teacher at my school, and apparently pushes her very hard. According to another teacher, after tests he goes to her homeroom and publically asks her for her scores. Even if she does a good job (which, invariably, she does) instead of saying “열심히 공부했어요 (you worked hard)” he always says “더 열심히 공부하세요 (you must work harder).”

EC keeps her hair up in a bun, with long strands framing her face in front of her ears. She has a very sweet face, but unfortunately doesn’t smile very often. Now that I think about it, during our meetings preparing for YDAC and during our dinner afterwards was the most I’ve ever seen her smile.  She constantly has her head down, and is scribbling notes. She’s one of the only students I can count on to be paying attention constantly. If she ever fell asleep in my class, I would let her sleep, because there would have to have been something wrong. She doesn’t need to “work harder” –  if EC works any harder, she might have a nervous breakdown before she gets to third grade.

Student Profile: SJ

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

SJ is a character. He was not only the only male student on the team, but also the only male student to apply for the program. That’s not why I chose him, though. I chose him because of his English ability, his interest in diplomacy (he wants to be a diplomat), and for his confidence. It takes guts to apply for something when you don’t know a single other person applying, other than the teacher who’s conducting the application process. In SJ’s case, it’s not just courage – because courage implies that you’re scared. SJ… doesn’t seem to ever get nervous. He’s probably the most self-possessed fifteen year old boy I’ve ever met, which is a great quality in a debate participant.

At our school girls and boys rarely talk, even when given the chance, and there’s a big divide between second years and first years. The first time we met, and we had three girls (two second years, one first year) and one first year boy, I foresaw a whole lot of awkward. I ordered pizza, and worked out our schedule so that the first hour would just be chatting.  The girls arrived before SJ did, and from them I found out that SJ is somewhat famous at our school. During Sports Day the name on his jersey was “Prince.” He’s just charismatic, and well-known among the second grade girls for being “cute.” When he arrived, even though he was outnumbered by girls on all sides, that didn’t faze him in the slightest.

He’s also vicious. When I asked them to come up with questions to ask the other teams about their resolutions, he asked if  the purpose of these questions be “to destroy” the other teams. I responded that, as this was a diplomacy simulation, probably not. He looked disappointed.

So, charismatic, self-possessed, with a slight competitive streak. However that’s not all – he’s also really really weird.

He’s super strange, in a fully aware-of-it sort of way, and it’s wonderful.

The girls noticed it too. One time when he left the classroom they mentioned that he always likes to talk for a long time about very random topics. Here’s an example of a conversation that mostly SJ and I had, with a few interjections from the girls.

SJ: Ah, I wish I had patbingsu now (patbingsu is a Korean dessert). The convenience store has patbingsu. We eat it a lot.
E: Really? I didn’t know they sold patbingsu.
SJ: Yes. You can also add milk to the patbingju. Either banana or choco is the best. You can use one milk for two patbingsus. But it is very expensive. 1,500 per patbingsu, plus the milk price. Normally I do not pay though. The first grade boys we play rock scissors paper and whoever loses must buy everyone patbingsu. Normally we do this with bread, but now we do this with patbingsu. I am the rock scissors paper champion of first grade, so I never buy patbingsu. This way I can eat many patbingsu for free. I also normally eat many bread for free.
E: How many patbingsu do you normally eat per week?
SJ: About four or five. This is the first week the convenience store has had patbingsu.
E: … then how on earth do you know so much about patbingsu?
SJ: I like patbingsu.

Because we finished working on our posters a little early (11:00 pm, and they didn’t have to be back at the dorm until midnight, and the boys’ convenience store is apparently open until 1 am) I went and bought them all patbingsu and ice cream.

SJ: Teacher! Let me mix your patbingsu and milk for you. I will mix it deliciously.
E: Oh, thanks SJ.
… A few minutes pass…
E: SJ… I can mix the rest – you should eat your ice cream, it’s melting!
SJ: Oh, that’s okay. I like this sound.

As we’re eating our dessert, the conversation continues.

E: Oh wow you’re right, adding banana milk gives it a whole different flavor. Like coffee!
SJ: Yes. It makes it taste like coffee. If you add choco milk it tastes different too. I… cannot describe the flavor well, but more than choco. You know, it is one of my regrets that we do not have time to eat patbingsu slowly like this.
E: Yeah, if you only have 10 minutes in-between classes, when do you eat patbingsu?
SJ: We hide it under our desks during class and every time our teacher writes something on the board we eat a spoonful of patbingsu. However, sometimes we drop our spoons, so we must drink the patbingsu instead.
E: …
SJ: It is very difficult.
E: So… what if you get brain freeze?
SJ: Then we grab our friend’s hand and squeeze hard, and pretend like we’re concentrating hard.
E: …
SJ: But normally our friend is also eating patbingsu. So we must grab both hands.

We change the subject for a bit, and start talking about YDAC. But before long…

SJ: Teacher! Do you want to hear more about patbingsu?
E:  Always.
SJ: Sometimes we like to go patbingsu hunting.
E: …?
SJ: On any given day there are 20 patbingsus. We once calculated the amount of money that the convenience store makes off of patbingsu, given the price of 1,500 won and that it probably costs 1,000 won to manufacture. But yes, there are 20 patbingsus. So what you do is you find a person eating patbingsu and you stand in front of them and say like this: “Hello. Are you eating patbingsu?  Is it delicious? I think it does not look delicious. Here, let me taste it for you. I will tell you if it’s delicious or not.” And then you eat a spoonful. On any given day, I can have maybe twenty spoonfuls of patbingsu.
E: …
SJ: This is patbingsu hunting.
E: … SJ, are you popular? Because you steal people’s patbingsu and you keep winning at rock scissors paper. I’m worried that if you’re not popular, you will get beat up.
SJ: Oh. Don’t worry. I’m popular.
E: Okay then. Our school’s only had patbingsu for like, a week, right?
SJ: I like patbingsu.


And that is basically SJ.

Our Patbingsu Party. I took this while he was mixing it for me.

Student Profile Introduction

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

YDAC was a lot of things. It was a lot of work. It was stressful. It was incredibly fun. It was tiring. Above all, it was a chance for me to get to know four of my students really really well.


I really like writing blog entries that focus on people, so my next four blog entries (unless something absolutely amazingly bloggable happens in between) I’m going to write will be profiles of my four YDAC students, starting with SJ.

While I have my camera out…

Monday, June 4th, 2012

here’s what the board looked like after we finished brainstorming elements for our diplomacy conference speeches. Have I mentioned that I’m a board teacher? ‘Cause I am.

YDAC Take 2

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I’ve been working with four students to prepare for a diplomacy conference that a fellow Jeolla ETA put together. For this conference, we have to act like we are the National Assembly, identify a problem and write a resolution and speech about our solution to that problem. My team decided to write about youth unemployment in Korea. We met Wednesday and Thursday and did some preliminary research and created our resolution, then I told them that we’d meet again on Monday to start working on the speeches, but I wanted them to use the weekend to do some brainstorming.

Today I came into the office to find, on my desk, a hand-written bullet-pointed list developed by one of the students (a first-grade girl). Attached to it was a note: “I’m sorry to make you busy, Emily. But it occurred to me that making preliminary questions can help us. I think we should make our standpoint clear to answer to some questions abut our speech and be perfect and confident even though we will be asked difficult questions. So, I’d like to ask you to select some questions which are good enough to prepare.” The questions she’s come up with, are not only grammatically almost entirely correct, but the vocab she uses is incredibly high-level, and the content is great as well.

For example [one of our ideas to reduce the growing youth unemployment rate was to have the government help subsidize the hiring costs of mid-sized companies] ”Suppose that we were able to get additional finance by abrogating unnecessary policies. Is a youth unemployment problem he most imminent even though there are also other problems that need more finance to be resolved?… Do small enterprises have valuable visions to be invested? (If an enterprise which had been subsidized became bankrupt, it would be a waste of finance. A government has to provide welfare but a government is not a charity.)”

I’m so excited to keep working with these students.


Em in Asia! 2011-11-16 20:31:50

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

We had a warm spurt for late October and early November. It almost helped me forget that this time last year I was getting sick every other week and absolutely freezing.  Alas, now winter is here in full force, and everyday as I walk to school I can see my breath. I also remember this time last year my coffee intake went way up, because I couldn’t stand to be outside for more than thirty minutes at a time, so whenever I met my friends we had coffee.

Seriously though, all I want to do is wear sweaters and eat soup.

This has been a stressful week. Yesterday I took a team of four students to YDAC, a Youth Diplomacy Action Conference that was thought of and created by a fellow f*brighter. Jeollado (broken into two parts, Jeollabukdo -north- and Jeollanamdo -south-) generally has less resources than many of the other provinces (especially Gyeonggido, the province that surounds Seoul) so this Jeollabukdo-residing f*brighter decided to create a diplomacy simulation that was targeted towards high school students in Jeolla. It was ridiculously fun.

I had to choose a team of four students (I chose one second grade boy and girl and one first grade boy and girl to show an accurate representation of our school, and also to try to combat the gender division/grade division in school) and they had to write a mock resolution. We wrote one on global warming:

A Resolution on Global Warming

1. Whereas, the world became industrialized and the use of fossil fuels increased; and

 2. Whereas, carbon dioxide is increasing because of using fossil fuels; and

 3. Whereas, cars and factories, the source of greenhouse gases are increasing; and

 4. Whereas, harmful greenhouse gases lead to changing climate which causes abnormal weather and melting icebergs; therefore

 BE IT RESOLVED THAT Factories in developed countries should decrease their carbon dioxide emissions by 35% within 10 years.

Then the students had to prepare a 5 – 7 minute speech expanding on their resolution, as well as read resolutions that the 8 other schools had prepared and think up some counter-arguments or points to support them. They also had to later on in the day read a mock situation and respond to it.

I was really proud of not only my students but also all the students from the other schools that came.  My students seemed to really enjoy the conference. It was also fun just being able to hang with them, and having them want to speak to me in English.

On top of all that, today is the SCHOOL FESTIVAL! Oh man, I’m excited, even if many of the students aren’t. Turns out the reason why we don’t have classes today isn’t entirely because of the festival – all morning classes are cancelled for the school-wide essay competition. What fun. Also, there’s currently some school drama going down, because they had to cut some of the acts in the school festival due to time restraints, and ended up cutting some of the homeroom dances/skits, so now some of the students are mad at some of the faculty. Anyway, I’m still excited. One of my YDAC kids (Future Diplomat – referred to him a bit earlier) is apparently performing in the my school’s shortened rendition of Grease as “로저” which translates to “Roger” which is apparently Putzy’s name in the musical. I’m SO EXCITED to see FD as Putzy, it’s going to be hillarious.