Sunday, June 5, 2011

My South Korean Invasion: Second Day Saga, Learning Bits and Pieces of Koreans

Despite an almost eight long hours of travel by air and by land and barely five-hour sleep, everybody woke-up early in high spirits and was very eager to engage in full throttle whatever lies ahead of everyone in a land that is a time zone ahead of where they came from.

To a common Filipino teacher, traveling to another country certainly is not an ordinary experience, so most participants wasted no time taking pictures, trying to capture each other’s enjoyment in this unfamiliar place that is more than 2,600 kilometers away from home.

By 7:30 a.m., our first Korean breakfast was served at the cafeteria which was located at the second floor of Hunsan Gunji House. The dishes were composed mainly of vegetables together with rice and of course, kimchi.

After breakfast, we were introduced to the training assistant of the day, Ms. Seol Geun Hye, and interpreter Ms. Lee Jae Sun ( Jessie ).

As previously instructed, the trainees clad in their national school uniform, left for school by 8:30 a.m. It took everyone about 30 minutes to walk from the guest house to the Information and Computing Center. It is quite a long walk, but many of the teachers enjoyed because of the beautiful sights seen along the way. And besides, walking is good for the health.

Shortly after arriving at room 201 of the Information and Computing Center, the ICT Training for Philippine Teachers was formally opened. The Philippine delegates received a warm welcome from the Korean education officials and supervisor who accepted them on behalf of Jeollabuk-do’s Governor of Education, Choi Kyu-ho.

After a brief introduction and overview of the activities to be held for the whole duration of the program, it was Dr. Elias Alicaya’s turn to give a short speech to give acknowledgement to Korean government that played a very important role in the implementation and improvement of Information and Communications Technology in the schools of Cavite province since 2005. After the opening program, each participant received various gifts. That marked the beginning of a great experience of Korean generosity and hospitality.

The training proper started at 10:00 a.m. The first topic “Learning Korean” was delivered by Ms. Kim Minja, a school teacher in an IT leader school in Korea . Included in the topic were Korea’s history, culture, education and briefly, the Korean alphabet they call “Hangul”.

The next lecturer was Ms. Yu Eun-A, a very cheerful and animated teacher. The participants had a lot of fun especially when Ms. Eun-A taught us how to prepare Gimbap, which is made from steamed white rice and various other ingredients, rolled in sheets of dried seaweed and served in bite-sized slices. The morning session ended at exactly 12:00.

Lunch was held at a nearby restaurant, about 10 minutes walk from the lecture room. Every dish served was authentic Korean cuisine. The food preparation was great. The details were very amazing. What was supposed to be a lunch turned out to be a small feast! The food was awesome but most of the trainees could not finish their meal since the servings were more than enough. Chop sticks were also way too heavy.

Time is very valued by Koreans. Immediately after the meal, everyone was directed to walk back to the training place. Chat and nap time are luxuries they can’t afford. This is something that the we would need to get used to.

The whole afternoon’s lectures focused on ICT literacy, specifically on how to use Microsoft Excel as a teaching tool. Although most Philippine teachers were already familiar with the program, new techniques were still learned. The flow of the lectures was rather fast due to time restrictions. But in spite of it, only few trainees had trouble keeping up with the pace because the lecturer, the assistants, and co-trainees were always willing to give a hand.

The first training day closed at 6:00 p.m. with no remarkable amount of trouble met.

Welcome dinner was held at a fine restaurant about 10 minutes drive from the computing center. This time, it was a much bigger of a feast compared to lunch time. Several education officials of Korea were there at the dinner and gave warm acceptance to the Filipino participants. Everyone was acquainted with the various traditional foods served. It was a great time indeed.

And so the first training day has ended. Even though it was just the second of the 10 days of stay in Korea, there were already a bunch of good moments that was too great to be confined in this blog, and there’s still a lot more in store for the next day.