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Delphos St John

Class of 2009

Class of 2009

2009 Class Directory

Christine Bemis
San Diego CA

Victoria Recker
Delphos  OH

Curt Metzger Spotlight

Embedded Image for: Curt Metzger Spotlight (2017317133135846_image.jpg) What made you decide to teach in South Korea? What did you do in high school at DSJ and at college at Bluffton that helped you prepare for working overseas?

I've always known that I wanted to travel and teach. Teaching in the USA is not as easy as everyone says it is. With IEP's, lesson planning, summer workshops, my student debt, continuing my education to get a Masters, there would have been a lot on my plate and if I ever wanted to go abroad and teach, this would be the time before I have any concrete home or other responsibilities. So I chose to go for a country in Asia, and South Korea welcomed me with open arms.
In high school I didn't experience much diversity, how­ ever the teachers at St. John's showed me how to be a good teacher in different ways. The teachers there were so easy to talk to and I knew if I ever needed help I could go to them and talk to them. I'll always remember my 7th grade English teacher Mr. Huysman. He was the real reason I always wanted to become a teacher. He made it so fun and cared so much for all of us. He made English class fun which in my opinion is hard to do.
In university going to Northern Ireland really sparked me looking for more ways to get out of the USA and to get out of my comfort zone. I've always lived in white, middle class neighborhoods, high school, and then university. I wanted to get out, meet new people, see new things, but also teach. And Bluffton University really gave me that opportunity when I went to Northern Ireland and worked at the Derry Museum working with Irish Catholic, and Protestant students. Still one of the best half years of my life.

What subjects do you teach? What are your classes like? What are your students like and what grades? What is a typical day like in South Korea for you?

I am basically a Pronunciation English teacher here in Korea. I also work with writing, and grammar; but my main focus is to get kids using English in a practical situation. Koreans are very shy about their English (as are most people learning a new language), so I'm here to help them to use it and continue to develop confidence to use it correctly.
I work in the Public school system at 2 elementary schools (previous I worked in public middle schools before my job was cut). I work with kindergarten, 3rd 4th 5th 6th with usually around 15-30 students per class. The students are not shy. They are your typical elementary students. Some love English class, and others see it as a class they are forced to go to and shut down.
A normal day for me... Wake up at 740 am, shower, grab a quick snack and ride my bike to school by 8:30am. On a typical day I teach around 4 classes, usually 2 grade levels 3/4 or 5/6 and get off of work at 430. After school if I am finished with my lesson planning I study Korean for an hour or two and then eat dinner. Usually I cook my own dinner but Korean food is amazing and pretty cheap. Plus, they have the best fried chicken I've ever had. After dinner I usually go for a run or a bike ride to stay in shape for Ultimate Frisbee. Then I relax and head to bed around 12 a.m.

What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when you moved to South Korea? What were the biggest changes from the US to South Korea?

Biggest adjustment is easily, the language and transportation. I have nowhere near a good grasp of the language, so everyday things you take for granted in the USA are made that much harder. From shopping to buying clothes (they are so small here compared to the USA, sometimes it is hard to find clothes, and shoes for sure), but this isn't really a bad thing. I am constantly learning new things, and new cultures that are different from mine.
Next is transportation. In the USA cars are THE way to get around. It's the same here. However, buses, and taxis and subways are EVERYWHERE. Because Korea is the size of Illinois they have developed an amazing transportation system and to get anywhere is easy. Telling the drivers and looking at maps and bus routes in Korean however does make it a challenge.
Biggest change from the USA and Korea I would have to say is a more conformity style of people, and the respect that has to be given to everyone. What I mean by conformity is people don't mind dressing the same, couple clothes are very popular, at movies people love to sit close by each other, and being individualistic is seen as different or a little strange. Korea is becoming more and more individualistic as the younger generation takes over, but Korea still loves being part of the team rather than the one black sheep.
And next is the respect given to elders, important figures, or generally everyone you meet. There are so many ways to show respect in Korea. People will not no­tice if you do everything correct, because well, it's the correct and proper way to do it. However, if you forget, or maybe do something a western way it could mean disrespect or it could hurt your character to that per­son. Bowing, using honorific Korean, waiting for elders to start eating first, holding your glass a certain way, pouring drinks a certain way, are just a few things I keep in mind when I am at school.

What are your future plans? Do you want to continue to teach in South Korea?

My future plans... Wow big question, haha ... Right now I just resigned for this year. My goal would be to get a job at an International school here in Korea. At the school I could teach World History, Economics, Government, US History, or even Humanities. So basically it is just like a school in the USA, UK, or even Canada depending on their school system. I would love to stay here in Korea. If not, I am also looking into options in the UK or Europe. Because Korea has so many westerners who teach, my contacts with the UK, EU, S. Africa, and Middle East have grown vastly. Knowing that many people has opened doors for me I never knew about. However, if I do continue to stay and teach in Korea I am also looking at getting my masters online in Educational Administration.
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