I got a phone call from one of my friends, Joopil. He told me that someone was looking for an English teacher to teach at an English camp in the summer on an island off of the west coast and asked me to go. He told me that they needed several teachers, so if I could find more teachers, they would really appreciate it. I asked my daughter to go with me as well as a Korean/Japanese student of mine who I knew was needing a job, and we all went together.
Before I went, I had to make sure it was legal. You see, for most foreign English teachers in Korea, it is illegal to teach at more than one place, and I was on vacation from Korea Christian University at the time, so I had time, but didn’t want to do anything illegal. It is written into most foreign teacher’s contracts that they can’t teach English camps, but it was not written into mine. However, a friend who had a contract like mine had been deported for teaching at an English camp. I went to the main office of KCU and asked, and they called Immigration. Immigration told them that as long as I had their permission, I could teach at the camp, and I had their permission, so I went without worries.
I set off south of Seoul toward Imjado with the two girls in my car. We had a nice road trip. We went over to Imjado on a ferry. The English Camp was at a Korean type resort on the beach. It looked like a large hotel, but even though it looked like a nice hotel from Hawaii or something from the outside, it was nothing like that inside. There were no beds in the rooms. The three of us shared the same room, and it was just one big empty room with a hardwood floor. Luckily, I had learned by that point that the Koreans slept like that, and I brought an air mattress and several pillows to sleep on. I also had brought a folding couch and an ice chest full of drinks and fruit. We were basically camping inside.
We ate at the resort cafeteria. It was like a big school cafeteria. The cooks were a group of Korean ajumas (Ajumas are the older married ladies who run Korea.). They served things like rice, seaweed soup, kimchee, and fish three times a day. The fishermen on the island had caught the fish. I went to visit the ladies on my breaks because they were in a small room in the back of the cafeteria. They sat in there on the floor eating popcorn and other Korean snacks and watching TV, and I had fun practicing my Korean and joined them.
The people running the English camp decided we should have what teachers call “centers.” In the same building, we set up classrooms where the students could learn about different topics in English. They sent us to the local elementary school to get toys to use in the centers. There was one where they learned about food, another where they learned about money, one where they sang, etc. They heard me singing and asked if I knew the songs in their children’s book, and I did, so they put me in charge of singing. My daughter got put in charge of money. I had fun singing with the students. We had classes every morning, and spent the afternoons either at the beach or taking hikes in the woods. We also had Korean chapel everyday. I learned that the camp was put on by the Presbyterian church, and that the Presbyterian church owned the resort. The Korean government had given it to them. I learned just how influential the Presbyterians are in the government of Korea. As the week went on, they decided that I should teach extra in the afternoons, but not singing. When the other teachers went to the beach to play with the kids, I was in a small room in the back of the cafeteria with a group of older students reading in English with them.
Some of the other foreign teachers were interesting. There was a crazy American girl who was just there looking for a one night stand, but I don’t think she ever got it. I made friends with a girl from South Africa named Mary, and we are still friends and keep in touch. She puts out a kind of newspaper now called “Brain Child.” One of the teachers decided to sunbathe in the afternoon. After all, we were at a beach. She put on a bikini and went outside to sunbathe. The people in charge of the resort saw her and went crazy! They called all the foreign English teachers in for a meeting. They let us know in no uncertain terms that wearing bikinis was not acceptable! They said maybe they could do that in Seoul, but not in small town Korea. The teachers were expected to remain covered at all times!
One of my friends from Seoul called me while I was there. When he learned where I was, he was in shock because he had never heard of the place! If you have never heard of Imjado before, it is no wonder because even the Koreans don’t know where it is.
I took long walks on the beach every evening. I love the beach! On one of those walks. I sat for a while, and an Englishman came along and sat and talked to me for a while. He was an English teacher at the school on the island. He was thrilled to hear that I had lived in England as a little girl. He said the next evening there would be a bonfire on the beach and told me to come when I saw the bonfire, but I didn’t end up going.
There really wasn’t much to the island besides a beach and some woods. They had a grocery store, but it was a small very Korean grocery store. I saw a church building. They had a nore bang (a singing room). I love to sing and kept trying to get a group together to go to the singing room, but didn’t have much success. There was a place where people camped on the beach and a hotel on the beach next to the Presbyterian resort where we were staying. One afternoon, they had a paint ball fight behind the resort where we were staying. There were lots of small boats, and we took a boat ride and went out to another smaller deserted island one day.
I enjoyed my time on the small island, but the week came to an end, and we went back to Seoul. When I got back to KCU, the people in the front office were upset. The school at Imajado had called, and they were trying to hire me full time. I had to let the people at KCU know that I didn’t plan on leaving KCU. I enjoyed Imjado, but I know I couldn’t live out there because they didn’t even have Coca Cola Zero. I knew trying to live out of the grocery store they had out there would have been a huge challenge. I had a good job in Seoul with students that I loved and lots of friends in Seoul. I didn’t want to leave, but I enjoyed my time on the little island off the west coast of Korea, Imjado.