Up at 7am to visit the elementary school where my friend teaches English. Having taught in several junior high schools in Chiba City, I'm intrigued to learn more about the Korean system. The school is gorgeous, newly renovated and set atop a hill overlooking Seoul. The teachers each have their own classroom with central heating and in my friend's case, a private office connected to his classroom by a door. The classroom is equipped with the latest technology, including a 56 inch 1080P touchscreen LCD linked to a computer with high speed internet and a digital visualizer.
We have four morning classes; three 6th grade and one 4th grade, and the English level is astounding. Each class is conducted entirely in English, and the students have no problem at all keeping up. Overall, they appear highly motivated and eager to learn.
6th Grade Student, Seoul
4th Grade Student, Seoul
A few nights ago, my friend received a text message over dinner from an old chum on his way to Seoul. Turns out this old chum happens to be an old friend of mine from the same JET pre-departure orientation group leaving Montreal the summer of 2009. We had been close in the days leading up to our departure, but lost touch when we moved to opposite sides of Japan.
We decide to surprise him tonight over shabu-shabu, and the shock on his face is priceless.
After dinner, I catch a train to the other side of Seoul to meet another Korean friend from high school in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Following her undergrad in the States, she returned to Seoul to pursue an MA in Political Science at Seoul National University, and get in touch with her roots. Catching up over green tea lattes, she tells me the bizarre account of how a former teacher of ours was recently picked up by Interpol in New Delhi on murder charges that date back some 20 years. My heart goes out to his wife and two young sons. I can't imagine the turmoil they must be facing right now.