June 30, 2008
We are now around two hours away from our home in Bucheon at a week-long Gepik conference for Native English teachers. We arrived yesterday at around 10:30 AM and will be here until Friday night. And, huzzah, we get paid for this! Weâ€™re attending the Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK) Foreign Assistant English Teacherâ€™s Training Weekend (AKA – Longest Title Ever!)
6:45 am- Simon and Martina get up and eat chocolate covered wheat squares covered in milk. Weâ€™re off to our 5 day English Teacher training session which is about an hour and a half away. We walk to the bus terminal to take a 50 minute bus ride, 15 minute subway ride, and 20 minute shuttle bus to our â€œhotelâ€. We arrived at the â€œhotelâ€ which is actually a really nice conference centre. Itâ€™s three to a room, and Simon and I were on different floors with different roommates. We went to talk to the conference organizer and ran into another young married couple from South Africa. They also want their own room, but apparently it was a full house, so we had to wait until later that evening to find out if we could get our own room. Poor Simon, the beds are really, really small (as in, single beds, not even twins) and he is dangling off the end of the bed. Luckily for us, both the South African couple and Simon and I were able to get our own rooms after much whining.
More good news: weâ€™ve already met some people from Bucheon who seem really cool, including Mark who is from New Zealand, around our age, and also married! YEA! Married friends! His wife couldnâ€™t make it to the conference because she has a wedding to go to in New Zealand. They also have a website about Korea! Exclamation point! Afterwards we sat through a long introduction, and a sad conference about the school curriculum. This poor woman – we felt so bad for her – was trying to explain the curriculum to everyone, but people kept on interrupting her and yelling about how there is no curriculum, how the students canâ€™t learn anything, and such. She was completely flustered, and we were hiding our faces in shame. North Americans get a bad name for being a bunch of rude a-holes and people like this are only perpetuating the stereotype.
After dinner Simon played basketball, while Martina read a novel. Then we talked to another couple from Canada (hooray!) for a couple of hours until we finally went to sleep. Weâ€™re on day 2 of the conference right now, watching a lady struggle with a whiteboard. She just broke it. Itâ€™s on the ground as we speak. More to come in tomorrowâ€™s update.