With the upcoming holidays, my recent switch to a new host family, and an upcoming exam on my Korean, I have been rather busy this month. It has definitely been an exciting month, though. One of the major highlights in the month was my school having an English Day on Dec. 2, just before my move to my new host family.
On English Day, the events started with a competition called "Speed Quiz," during which the participants (three of the best English speakers in each grade) were given a list of 10 English words. The goal was to prompt the school body to guess what the word was using only English. They were then scored by how many of the words they were able to get and the time it took them to do so. Our school also offered for the exchange students to participate, but instead of using English, we would do the same thing with Korean. I volunteered to do so along with Josh, the student from Taiwan. I went first and surprised myself by being able to explain nine of the 10 words. The word that I missed was Hangul, the name of the Korean Alphabet, which was very hard to try to explain. When I finished I realized that with all that I had tried, it did not occur to me to mention King Sejong the Great, the inventor of the alphabet, but I was happy with how much I did get. Josh did really well also, getting ten out of ten and winning for the exchange students. All the participants got notebooks and the winners got two notebooks. My host brother and sister, In-Cheol and Jee-Won, also both participated in this competition for my class. My host brother ended up winning for his grade, but he did spend last year in the United States, which his sister is lined up to do next year.
After the Speed Quiz, we had the exchange student country presentations, where we exchange students gave presentations on each of our countries. Josh went first and give his presentation on Taiwan in Korean. After his presentation, I gave my presentation on the U.S., which I had spent a lot of the week revising. I only gave my presentation's introduction and conclusion in Korean, but that was also a rather difficult thing to do. Next, Arne gave his presentation on Germany followed by Aldo and Danna, who presented on Mexico.
Next, there was the English Textbook Passage Memorization Contest, during which three students participated presenting short passages to be scored by the English teacher, Mrs. Kim (who is also our Rotary Club's amazing Rotary Youth Exchange Officer) and the native-speaking English teacher. The winning participant for my class was my current host sister, Seon-Min. All the participants did a great job with the memorization, with most of the scoring being for how clearly they spoke and how concise their pronunciation was.
The final part of the day was a presentation by the native-speaking English teacher, Nick, on how important English was to learn as it is the international language. It was an interesting presentation that was a good end to the English Day events.
The Tuesday following English Day, I moved to my next host family's house in Gunsan, which was an interesting change, as it is a completely different environment. I went from a farm to an apartment, from being in walking distance from my school to a one-hour bus ride away, from the country to the city and from sleeping on a floormat to sleeping in a bed again. One of the things that remained constant was that I still have an awesome host family. My new host family knows less English though, which has pushed me to speak more Korean. I have already noticed some improvement, but I still have a long way to go.
Editor's note: P.J.?Sproule is a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the Houghton Rotary Club living near Seocheon, South Korea, for a year.