At Chungdahm Learning you have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world, so it is possible to challenge yourself to experience new things, cultures and grow as an individual. Being able to socialize with people from diverse backgrounds has been my favorite part of teaching abroad, so I recommend you do your best to plan events within your academy where you can build bonds with your fellow teachers outside of the classroom. In this blog I will talk about some of the events my fellow teachers and I have done at ChungDahm's Songpa branch.
During the holidays, Songpa Branch decided to fight the "holiday blues" by planning a Christmas Party. It really helped instructors feel apart of a community and blow off some steam from the pressures of daily life. Partaking in events at CDL fights the feeling of isolation and gives foreign teachers a feeling of purpose. If by chance your branch doesn't have any scheduled social events for teachers I recommend approaching management and taking the initiative to planning activities that can bring your fellow teachers closer together. Below I will go into more depth about some of the fun activities my fellow teachers and I have planned during my time in Korea.
1. Secret Santa Christmas Party
For the holiday season this year, my CDL branch hosted a Secret Santa and Christmas Party. We got together a team of one manager and three instructors to help plan a great event. About three weeks before Christmas we created a Drawnames account and added all employees and staff members emails. Instructors could create wish lists which worked out well, because most people got what they wished for.
Afterwards, we planned a Christmas Party at 1:30 pm on the Friday before the holidays in our branch's seminar room. We made an excel sheet and wrote down ideas of dishes to bring for a potluck. Such items included: baked chicken, pasta salad, small plates and fried shrimp.
We then decided on festive games to play, made a hot chocolate station and created a holiday music list. We assigned the tasks between the four of us and had a group chat to share ideas.
On the day of the event, we arrived at 12 pm and helped setup the decorations and Christmas tree. Everyone arrived wearing something festive and brought delicious food and their gift. It was a truly merry time had by all.
2. Spring Picnic in the Park
Every Spring our branch organizes a picnic day in the park. Spring in Korea is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with colleagues. Not only is the weather perfect, but there is also cherry blossoms, blue skies and strawberries!
We used Kakao chat to create a poll, where instructors got to choose which Saturday they would prefer to have the picnic on and where they wanted to have the picnic. Great spots to have a picnic in Seoul would be Olympic Park, Seokchon Lake, Han River Park and Seoul Forest.
Similar to the Christmas event, we created an excel sheet with items and food that we needed for the picnic. Then teachers chose what they wanted to bring. Such items included were: balls, speakers, picnic blankets, board games and sunscreen. Some instructors also cooked meals for the picnic or prepared sandwiches.
On the Saturday we were going to meet, we chose a meet up spot on Kakao chat. Our last picnic hosted in Olympic Park was a fantastic day, where we listened to music, enjoyed great food and drinks, along with with playing Taboo in teams. We made a bet between the teams that the losing team had to buy the winning team drinks the next Hweshik (company dinner) we had.
Some employees also bought their dogs which we had fun playing with. It was a truly a great time being able to bond with your fellow teachers in a social environment all while being able to enjoy the beautiful Spring weather.
3. Celebrating Birthdays
At our branch we have started celebrating instructor birthdays. Every semester we calculate how many employees will have a birthday and then we collect 1,000₩ per birthday. This gives about 16,000₩ to buy a decent sized cake per instructor. For example, this semester there were three employee birthdays, so everyone gave 3,000₩ to management.
We celebrate the birthdays on the second floor of our branch during the first break. Instructors sing Happy Birthday and sometimes the students get involved too. Celebrating birthdays is a great way to make teachers feel special and enjoy the day even when they are far away from loved ones.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!