A Very Special Daily Shot of Soju: The Winter Camp Diaries

Lately I’ve been pretty busy doing Winter English Camp. This keeps me occupied most days from 9 in the morning till between 4:30 and 7 at night, depending on how much prep work I have to do for the next day. Entertaining various groups of Korean elementary students for 3 hours is fairly exhausting to say the least. The whole thing is pretty entertaining and silly. It borders somewhere between educational and down right neglect. This is surprising since I didn’t even know those two things bordered each other. Anyways, I thought I’d give you a look into what the camp looks like with a running diary.

Winter Camp -Day 5 of 15: Directions and Maps.

7:40 – Lurch forward in bed as my alarm clock does it’s best Godzilla impersonation 2 feet from my face.

7:41 – Realize I’m not being attacked by a giant lizard and discontinue thrashing bed. Snooze is hit.

7:49- 8:20 – Repeat. Insert various rationalizations for waking up later and later. Excuses such as “I just washed my hair two days ago,” and “my uneven stubble makes me look like a young George Michael.”

8:21 – Crawl out of bed. Check Facebook.

8:50 – Arrive at school. Complain that coffee isn’t ready for me. Nobody is around to listen. Check Facebook.thefunniestthingever.jpg

8:55 – Students begin to arrive. I leave the classroom to get water for making coffee.

9:00 – Winter camp starts.

9:05 – Return with water for making coffee. Check ESPN for basketball scores.

9:10 – Kids are pissing me off. I tell them to sing a song I taught them yesterday…NOT “Wheels on the Bus.” Continue to Check ESPN…and Facebook. Drink Coffee.

9:15 – Finish Coffee. I join students as they sing “Who stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?” I sing really loud.

9:25 – My Korean Co-teacher undermines my authority for the 1st time today.

9:30 – Practice tongue twister with students. I try really hard not to laugh.

9:40 – Go over vocabulary words for the day. I notice a fatherly smooth treble in my voice, mildly reminiscent of Dan Rather, when I read out loud and I am infatuated with the sound of it. Only if Dan was saying words and phrases like “Stand Up,” “Go Straight,” and “Turn Around” three times in a row while a group of 15 Korean students mimicked his every sound. This is extremely entertaining and I spend the next 15 minutes practicing different intonations trying to capture the essence of John Stossel as well as various impressions of sports announcers…they really like Dick Vitale.

9:55 – Play “Matthew Teacher” Says. The students have trouble figuring out what I mean when I say the phrase “Matthew Teacher Says…Stand Up,” even though I just spent 15 minutes practicing the phrase with them while doing my Dickie V impression. I decide that every student loses round 1 of “Matthew Teacher Says.” This makes me the winner. I eat some of the student’s prize candy. Laughing with chocolate in your mouth is rewarding.


10:00 – Round 2 of “Matthew Teacher Says.” As a test, I give all the instructions in my Dick Vitale voice. The students understand every direction. Oh god…what if they actually think this is what English is supposed to sound like?

10:15 – BREAK TIME!!!

10:16 – 10:26 – Spend 7 minutes slamming head against the stall in the mens bathroom. 3 minutes on Facebook.

10:28 – The first really smart thing my students do all day. Instead of asking me constantly what my phone number is they find my unpaid phone bill lying on my desk. I will spend the rest of the day pretending that my phone is not constantly vibrating in my pocket…”Really kids…that isn’t my number…someone else is calling me and I don’t want to pick up.”

10:29 – Korean Co-teacher undermines my authority. Actually, since this happens a few times lets just give it initials: KCTUMA…there, my fingers feel less stressed.

10:30 – Review “directions” vocab with students. As a game students are blindfolded and given instructions by another student. They must walk through a maze of chairs to find some prize candy. I use my time wisely…check Facebook.

10:50 – Students are given a mock street map with buildings. They must follow simple instructions to find their way to a pre-determined destination. I pretend that this is not just a more boring version of the activity we just barely did prior.

10:59 – Two students start shouting “Fuck You” at each other across the room. I give my best teacher look, the one they told me in college to practice in the mirror, I explain to them that they should not say that again and that I will not tolerate it one more time…they laugh. KCTUMA

11:00 – Time for the students to act out a short role play. I take out some costume materials for the students to use. One of these is a hat resembling something Michael Jackson once wore. I spend the next 15 minutes teaching the kids the significance of the Moon Walk and the song Billie Jean. I deem this an acceptable use of class time.

11:15 – One of the characters in the role play is a cow. For five minutes I demonstrate to the students how to make animal noises. I deem this an acceptable use of class time.

11:16 – A student yells out “Fuck” again. I ask co-teacher if I can remove him from class…I can not.

11:20 – the students perform a predictably sucky role play after spending their twenty minutes of practice time singing the base line to “Billie Jean” while I dance, working on Cow noises and yelling out “Fuck.” I take pictures of the students dressed up because it will look good in a portfolio some time in my future…video was suggested but I decided against it.


11:30 – KCTUMA

11:31 – There’s 30 minutes left till the end of the session. At this point I would deem yelling out “Fuck” to be an acceptable use of class time. I settle instead on singing “Wheels on the Bus.” The kids actually enjoy the song…my day is vindicated

11:45 – it’s close enough to 12…I let the students leave early so I can go to lunch. Some students try to stay around after and practice their English with me. I deem this an unacceptable use of class time.

10:50 – Check Facebook

12- 1: Lunch Time

1-4: Repeat morning lesson…because it went so well earlier.

Next day: Wheels on the bus for 3 hours straight and prescription medications.


Filed under Narratives, Things to Entertain You

3 responses to “A Very Special Daily Shot of Soju: The Winter Camp Diaries

  1. Nice-uh! I think we’re living similar precarious existences at this time. You probably have a better sense of humor about it though.

    I’m off to “away camp” next week and I hope I survive…

  2. V

    “my uneven stubble makes me look like a young George Michael.” … I think you should clarify this statement for everyone out there. In no way are you referring to the lead singer of Wham and proud wearer of ass tight jeans George Michael but rather Michael Cera, the actor from the series “Arrested Development” and his role of George Michael, with his prepubescent boyish good looks only someone like yourself could appreciate (as well as the rest of us, but that’s off the record). If for some reason you felt compelled to compare yourself to the amazing George Michael Of “Careless Whisper” fame then shame on you… shame on you indeed P…

  3. please…we all know that Michael Cera can’t grow uneven stubble

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