The Pleasure of Teaching
The TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea) program is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The people who participate in this program work as President's Scholars who teach English at the elementary schools in rural areas. YNO met a student named Jung-Ae Kim (Junior, Public Administration) who participates in this program and listened to her story.
When I met Jung-Ae Kim for the first time she gave the impression of a teacher by her actions and the way she talked. She is a President's Scholar, and is teaching English after school at an elementary school in Waegwan. She is the first participant in the TaLK. This program started in September, 2008. The main purpose of the program is to close the gap between rural and city students in English ability. Students who attend elementary schools in rural areas usually don't have as many opportunities to learn English well, so TaLK places foreign teachers and assistants to teach English in these areas. However, she did not believe that she would even be admitted into the program. There are many requirements to qualify for the program, one of which is a high TOEIC score, and she did not have a high score. When the government selects volunteers, they give preferential treatment to students who are majoring in education with a concentration in English. Although her major is Public Administration she was undaunted. She is a President's Scholar, and I thought she was good at English. Even though she said, "I'm not good at English." Actually she has not been to any foreign countries to study language and did not have a high score on the TOEIC exam. Like many average university students, she can speak English a little bit. She said that the reason why she was selected was because her professor wrote a glowing letter of recommendation. "At the first interview they checked my GPA, happily my GPA was very high, so I made it to a second interview. However, at the second interview, the interview was conducted in English. I didn't know the interview would be in English so I didn't prepare any answers. I was at a loss for words, so I did not think I gave any right answers." She applied at the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education and the Gyeongsangbuk-do Office of Education. The Gyeongsangbuk-do Office of Education called her and asked if she wanted to work and if so she could work as a President's Scholar. After she got the phone call, she had her heart set on doing the work to the best of her ability. However, she felt frustrated in the training.
The thing that frustrated her the most was that the traing was conducted entirely in English. Many of the other volunteers had experience studying abroad in places like America and Australia. There were even people who had lived abroad. "I really felt timid. I began to question why I was admitted into this program. The training was only done in English so it was very difficult. When I had to state my opinion in English, it was hard to explain. Because of this I thought that I had to study harder."
After training, losing her confidence could have been poison to her, but instead she took what could have been poison and turned it into medicine. The training showed her she had a lot of work to do to make her English better, and she worked hard to make that happen. She also questioned whether or not she could teach other people with all of her deficiencies. Not only meeting with children, but also having her first class with a native English teacher was a burden to her. She solved this concern about working with a native teacher by having dinner with her co-teacher. "I had classes during my college days, so after class I had to go to YU on the train and bus. Before I went to YU, I used my break to have dinner with my co-teacher." They had dinner together almost everyday and soon they became friends. They were better able to understand each other's culture. She changed all of her classes to night classes. It takes about two hours and twenty minutes one way to Waegwan. She teaches three hours and takes class at YU until ten o첽lock. Maybe she might want to give up the program because her schedule is too tight. However she gains courage from the children. When she enters the class, the children throw themselves into her arms, yelling "Teacher!!!!" To her the focus of activity is the children. "I felt like my spirit was purified. Difficult things disappear like melting snow. Also I say to myself that I chose this program myself. Nobody forced me to apply, I wanted to do it, so I have a duty to complete this work."
This volunteer activity can be a burden, because she is a Junior now and finding a job should be a top priority for her. Because of her many commitments, there is little time left over for her to start looking for a job. In spite of this she told me that she didn't feel like she lost anything. She feels happy when she gets along with the children. She was smiling while talking about the children. "If I can give a little help to them, it makes me feel like my time was worth it." Most students do volunteer activities when they are in high school, but is this the true spirit of service? For many high school students volunteer work is done in order to get a better grade. That situation made her choose this program. "I wanted an activity that could be done while studying. When I heard about the TaLK program, I thought that this was what I wanted."
Her goal in life is to be a person who can make responsible choices. This made her participate in this program for six more months. "I want to do more." She recommends this program to others. "If you are a university student, it is worth while to do." It is not easy to teach others. She is teaching not only basic knowledge but also relationships. "I want to recommend to everyone to experience the pleasure of teaching. It filled my heart up, and it gave me an opportunity to mature and learn responsibility." She said that it is an opportunity to do meaningful work. "It helps you and it's a precious experience, at least that is how I feel." She was smiling while she was telling me about her work. I felt she was sincere when I was speaking to her. A person who feels pleasure from teaching others really looks happy.
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