Thursday, February 25, 2010


First off kudos to Jeff on the new logo for the site. He worked his magic and it came out REALLY nice, so a thumbs up to him. Until next week thursday I don't have any kindergarten classes and my birthday is a national holiday in Korea (how's that for luck?), meaning I don't have to be at work until 2:40 in the afternoon. The reason for that is the old kindergarten classes have graduated and the new kindergartners are coming in. In order to mark this auspicious occasion we had our very long graduation ceremony today with all the trimmings.

And I mean all the trimmings. The balloon archway was a really nice touch I gotta say. The reason they go through all this trouble is because the parents pay a LOT of money to send their kids to this place to learn English and its up to us to make sure that the parents can celebrate their children's graduation. See, in order to impress the parents and reassure them that their kids are learning English, the school and its parent company, YBM ECC go through a lot of trouble. In a later post I'll go more into that but let's just stick to graduation for right now. The ceremony involves a song and dance routine from each class and a speech in English from every student. I thought it was a bit crazy to have each kid come up and give a speech when 90% of the parents don't have the faintest clue of what their child is saying. The graduation was MC'd by the Australian teacher Cameron:
On the left is my supervisor Debbie who speaks spectacular English. The ceremony is conducted in English so the parents are basically hearing "Blah blah blah ECC Blah Blah" until my supervisor speaks. The two kids on the right are also reading off a card in English. Now, if that wasn't enough, remember I said that the kids do a song and dance routine for the parents. This is also in English and their choice of song is...well...interesting to say the less. Oh, and by song and dance routine, I don't mean like they go on stage in line and just do a few moves while they sing a quick 1 minute song, I mean like a fully choreographed dance number off of star search in costume. Don't believe me?

These people are a trip. Yes, they had 6-7 year olds in flashy uniforms singing "Oh Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind". The other kids did "I love coffee I love tea" and "Stupid Cupid stop picking on me". The weeks before the graduation the kids spent hours practicing their routine until they got it right, and let me tell you the korean teachers worked so hard. They were in the gym for hours trying to get the kids to do their steps perfectly.  The kids had to be in sweaty costumes in a hot little room with their teachers yelling at them constantly. I understand why the teachers worked so hard,  they have to show off the kids hard work.  By the way, you might be wondering what I am doing during this extravaganza?

I am a piece of furniture. Well, more like one of those toys where the child pulls a string and a little arrow spins in a circle and lands on a picture, releasing a "Moo!" or "Quack!" to the child's delight. Our job as foreign teachers was to be readily visible so the parents could bow to us and greet us. Thankfully I'm not blond so I was not asked to do anything like MC the entire graduation or greet the parents at the door (I'll talk about the blonde effect in another post because it really requires much more length). Then, after the graduation was done myself and my korean counterpart teacher met with the parents of the children in my homeroom and fielded their questions. The mothers didn't really talk to me at all, just said that they weren't really expecting me to be so handsome (giggity giggity) and then left with their kids cuz well, my class is for total beginners and they're not graduating anytime soon.

All in all, the kids did deserve a day whether I thought it was weird or not. They do work quite hard given the fact they're forced to speak English a good portion of their day. They endured the dancing and training and were able to deliver their speeches quite well as well as give a good performance. Whether or not I think their parents are a bit goofy is irrelevant, they're the same as any good parent from any other part of the world, they want a good education for their children to ensure their future and they want to feel some assurance that they're making the right decision. If a spectacle is what it takes, then I'd say it's well worth it.