First was Sports Day. This is a full day competition encompassing many sports. The school is divided into teams that comprise of a mix of Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers (grades 5-12) on each team. The teams were assigned two lead teachers, and each team was also assigned either a superhero or a villain to represent just to make things more fun and interesting. My team was team Hulk, and if my mother passed anything onto me, it is a love for dressing up and creating costumes, so I went all out Hulk style. The other lead teacher decided to be Bruce Banner, and I was "the other guy". Events ranged from tug-of-war, three-legged races, and pie eating contests to more conventional sports like basketball and soccer. It should come as no surprise that my team won the competition, which solidified our victory in a year long team competition we have been having in Middle School. I should also mention that my supreme competitive nature has not gone unnoticed as I was voted for the teacher superlatives as "most competitive teacher". I take that with pride!
The Hulk, the Joker, and the other joker (also the trophy my team won!)
The whole body was painted green, but I had to keep it appropriate for school
The other main event our school had was the World Experience Trips, which the name is misleading as only one grade, from 5th to 12th, even left the country. Unfortunately that was not my group, but I plan to rectify that next year. Anyways, I went with the 8th graders that I teach to an area in the northeast part of South Korea called Seoraksan. It is a mountainous region with beautiful scenery. The trips were planned through a travel agency, but the chaperoning teachers were able to work with the agency to plan the activities. I can confidently say that my group of teachers planned the most fun trip. We were supposed to go white water rafting, but due to the lack of rain this year that was canceled, so instead we went paintballing. You mean I get a chance to shoot my students and not get in trouble for it? Nice! After shooting up my students, and getting shot a few times myself, we went to our hotel. That night we had rented out the hotel's conference room for a planned activity. We essentially created our own noraebang (Korean for "singing room"; aka karaoke). The students were shy and hesitant at first, but after I humiliated myself by going first, rapping Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise", followed later by Katy Perry's "Firework", students began to participate. We heard some Eminem, some k-pop, and even "La Bamba" by our only non-Korean student (from Mexico) and the Spanish teacher. In the end, almost all the students participated and it was really fun. The next day we planned a short hike on Seoraksan Mountain, of which the students whined and complained the whole time (it was only a couple hour hike and not that strenuous). After the hike and lunch, we fulfilled the mandatory educational part of the trip, by quickly visiting a very small Korean War museum and a less popular area of the DMZ, which was not nearly as interesting as the one we went to with the same 8th graders earlier in the year. After the "educational" part was out of the way, we headed to the beach. This was a very desolate beach, so much so that one student even asked, "Mr. McMath, did you rent the beach for us?" Also, considering we were in the northern most part of the country and winter just ended in April, the water was frigid. Surprisingly, this did not stop the student from having fun, although some students were forced to have "fun" when they were thrown in the water. Even the tour guide, who was super awesome and played with the kids the whole time, and myself eventually joined the fun. Afterwards, we cleaned up, had dinner, and headed back to the hotel to watch a movie. The students had been requesting a horror movie, but we didn't want angry phone calls about children having nightmares so we compromised by watching a tame horror movie and chose "The Sixth Sense", which the students enjoyed. The next day was our last day, but we had one activity planned before we went back to Cheongna. We had been told that the hotel had a water park called Aqua World, however "Aqua World" turned out to be nothing but a lap pool and a variety of different hot tubs. Once again, the students were determined to have a good time regardless. We played water volleyball, had chicken fights, and enjoyed the hot tubs for a couple hours before we finally went back home. This trip was a great opportunity to bond with the students and also to release some stress as finals begin the week after the student got back.
We are now in the week of final exams, and light at the end of the tunnel can be seen. Just a week and a half until my Summer Break!