As I complete my third full week living and working in Busan, South Korea, I am able to look back at my experience with gratitude. Many native-speakers working with Chungdahm may agree, the first few weeks working can be quite overwhelming, especially when thinking back to training week—which ended up being a five-day intensive of information and methodology which are essential for a smooth transition to the branch location. Using this opportunity, I will be completely honest about my experience thus far. I have no regrets about applying to work for this company, and look forward to this experience of a lifetime.
This is not my first time living in Korea. I lived in Busan as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student years ago. My year abroad was the driving factor in my decision to return. I left Korea the first time with the mindset that I would return to the country, in gratitude, and give back to its next generation of students.
Using Aclipse to begin my journey was the best decision I could have made. The application process was extremely proficient. My Aclipse recruiter was informative and supportive throughout the entire process. I began the application the first day of the year – like a New Year’s resolution – having recently graduated from university and hoping for the right opportunity to begin my professional career. Within a week, I had already been set up for an interview and was moving forward in the application process. By the end of February, I had accepted an offer with Chungdahm April Program in Busan. I was set to attend training in three weeks and had to gather my life into a suitcase and make my way around the world faster than I had ever expected.
I arrived in Seoul the Sunday morning of training week. With what time I had before I was to check into my hotel before training, I was able to spend a bit of time in Seoul. The next morning would be my first experience with Chungdahm. I was excited but overwhelmed. The trainees were provided transportation to the training center, where we spent lots of time with a trainer who has insight and experience working at the levels assigned in our contract, as well as advice important and useful after training week was over. On Friday, the last day of training, we were sent to our branch locations. Since my training was in Seoul, I took the fast train to Busan. Traveling alone, I was anxious about what to expect upon arrival. I was met at the station by a staff member who drove me to my new apartment and branch location. I was given a brief introduction to work at my branch. I reviewed my materials for class. The day ended with cake and introductions to the other teachers and staff. I truly felt welcomed by everyone at my branch.
A restful weekend preceded my first full week teaching at Chungdahm April. Everything I learned during training was very helpful, and although there were new things to pick up, I felt fully prepared for the work ahead. My classes ranged in size from 6 to 13 students. My schedule gave me enough time to adjust, throughout the week, to the rhythm of the classes. My biggest challenge was remembering all the names of my students. (This has always been a weakness of mine.) Although I recognized each student, recalling their names took a few weeks. My students are all very sweet. Of course, there a few troublemakers, but I expected that. It has taken about two weeks for them to warm up to me and understand that I am on their side.
Now, my routine each week goes smoothly. I arrive to my classroom about an hour before class begins. I have time to grab a cup of coffee from the front desk and print out whatever materials will be needed throughout the day. I also go through the lessons to make sure that I know exactly what I should be focusing on throughout the lesson. About 10-15 minutes before lessons begin, the students arrive and prepare for class. Sometimes that means they are running to the bathroom or getting water, or their energy is too high for them to sit in their seats, so they come up to me asking questions or trying to talk about their day before the class begins.
Classes go well. Everything I learned from training helps me. The materials provided through the system make classes easy. I have the same level a few times throughout the day, and the class gets easier throughout the day as I am able to reform my questions for each class and guide them to understand the materials. My other levels are a bit more hectic, simply because the kids always have so much energy, but that does not stop the class from going well. The kids do what needs to be done and most of the time, listen closely to directions. I am especially grateful to my co-teacher for helping me during the first few days. Without that one-on-one guidance, I believe my classes would not have gone as smoothly as they do now.
After about three weeks into teaching with Chungdahm April, I feel confident that the future only gets better from here. I am so happy that I made the choice to work with Chungdahm April Program. I have such a supportive staff of teachers and administrators at my side and a week of classes with some of the best children I have ever taught. I am so grateful for every day that they are in my class. When expressions on their faces show they understand an idea or they transform their thoughts into words, it is very rewarding. Each class has their own challenges, but I am happy to be the one there to guide each student to their fullest potential. I cannot wait to see my students continue to grow. That is what Chungdahm April Program is about: helping young seedbed students sprout into trees.
(Welcome to my classroom!)
(Seedbed students love taking pictures, but they are the most silly too.)
(Rookie students are the most entertaining class. They always keep me on my feet and love to share their ideas and bright smiles with teacher)
Jennifer Rohloff grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana. She spent a year in Busan, South Korea as a Rotary Youth Exchange Officer before entering university. Upon returning, she studied Political Science International Relations. During college, she was a classical ballet instructor. Jennifer graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at the end of 2018. After graduation, she immediately returned to South Korea to begin teaching at Chungdahm April, Dongnae Branch.