Where to next? [Placement Ceremony]

I finally know where I'm going!

After many weeks of actually being a Fulbright and still not knowing where I am teaching this year, we had our placement ceremony and learned what province we will be in and what school we will teach at!

I am going to be teaching at 정광중학교 (Jeonggwang Middle School), a private coed middle school, in the 광주 (Gwangju) province. I haven't done too much research into my province yet, but I do know that there is a lot of history in Gwangju centered on the citizens really taking control over their city. I am told that Gwangju is the Berkeley of Korea. If you'd like to learn more, the Wikipedia page is decent. Otherwise, keep a close eye on my blog in the future because I'll be sharing as I'm learning!

Let me rewind to the actually ceremony though.

We're in this rather large auditorium. The auditorium, much the rest of the Jungwon, is all granite and the only members in the audience to watch the ceremony are Director Shim, a few people from her staff, and our six Korean Language teachers. Tickets were really in demand, but we had to turn them away as this was a VIP event. Kidding, of course. The event wasn't in high demand, but it was a VIP event!

So with our impressive audience, all the ETAs stand in horseshoe-ish shape and wait for their name to be called. Names are announced by province from North to South. When your name is called you take one step forward, 90 degree bow to Director Shim, get your ticket and stick the tag with your name on it to the map. After you're on the map, you take a group photo with your province and then take a seat.

Basically I was standing front and center for Director Shim, didn't bow correctly because I was so nervous, and was initially bummed that I got a middle school, but quickly got over that because I got placed in the 6th largest city in Korea. I feel really lucky to be in Gwangju and I am content with middle school kids. I am hopeful that it will be more interesting than high school.

After everyone got their placement, everyone took lots of pictures and looked closer at the map with everyone's tags. I am not a consistent picture taker, but there are these:

I'll be in Gwangju with Jenna, Cara, and Sarah!
Sarah, Jonathan, and I after the Placement Ceremony!
Sarah and I are in Gwangju together! We're both really excited!
Jonathan is very far away from us, but still happy with his placement!

There are about two weeks left in orientation. We just got back from an overnight trip at a Buddhist temple. Let me tell you, 4am meditation is not my cup of tea. I've actually been awake for 12 hours already today. Later this week we have our Korean language tests and presentations. Hopefully we graduate this weekend when we're in Seoul. Then we get day and a half of freedom in Seoul, come back for some final workshops and then off to our placements we go!

I'll be posting about the temple stay in a bit. I just need a nap first!


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