Shadowing Ottie for an entire week at his schools in the countryside was an eye-opener for me. South Korea uses a different education system from what I grew up on- elementary, middle, and high school, and I got to experience every level during the week.
Turns out that it wasn’t the system that came as the most surprising to me (kids are kids), but the difference between country and city. The school population was so low that each class comprised of the entire cohort, and even then, I doubt any class actually had more than thirty students. Also, while the schools had uniforms, none of them were so strict as to enforce them. I’d see middle and high school kids switching out parts of their uniforms for home clothes, while elementary kids were free to dress as they chose on normal school days.
Here’s a succession of photos I took during my school week. YY, Ottie’s co-teacher would pick us up at our place in the morning for the half hour drive up the mountain, through scenic views and rows upon rows of farmland. It was grape season, and Korean grapes are the best I’ve ever had, like eating wine. Since a large majority of the students’ parents are farmers, I got fed so much grapes when I went there. Each teacher even got to take home a box of grapes (containing about ten to twelve bunches of grapes) whenever a truck came by. I even started accidentally calling it poodo after overindulging in grapes (podo 포도)…
I’ll have to admit, while I was extremely nervous to be a guest speaker, I really enjoyed talking to the kids and learning about them at the same time. Did you know that they call the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Lady? It’s so cute! I miss them already.