In July 2007, I left Halifax, Nova Scotia for a city called Daegu. Daegu is a large metropolitan city in South Korea, and I was a newly-minted EFL teacher. I had grown up in different places in Ontario and Nova Scotia, but never had I lived in a country other than Canada. Although I had spent my final year at Dalhousie University learning all I could about Korea, it was a whole new culture, and a whole new language.
I stayed in Daegu for over three years. I taught at one main private language academy, and several other locations. During my time there, my classes had students of all ages. My youngest student was four, and my eldest was in her seventies. I taught underprivileged youth, as well as CEOs of amusement parks. On any given day, I could experience the whole gamut of Korean society.
My first few months teaching were a challenge. I did have experience teaching Canadian youth, through the sea cadet program. Teaching EFL to Korean students required different skills, and it took some time for me to adapt. That bumpy start challenged me to be a better teacher, and as I gained confidence, my pedagogy improved drastically.
As 2010 came to a close, I wanted to challenge myself in a different educational setting. Returning to Canada for a while, I applied for a public school teaching position in Gangneung. Gangneung is a smaller coastal city in the beautiful province of Gangwon-do. The move to a school with 27 classes, and 950 students, was just the challenge I was looking for. I spent the next four years in the school further refining my teaching skills, and growing as a learner. Outside of regular class hours, I held different after-school programs throughout the week, volunteered to teach English to adults, and was involved with the city government to teach leadership classes. I also had the privilege of helping table a committee to create new reading curriculum for the city’s middle schools.
In 2015, I made the difficult decision to leave Gangneung, and return to Canada. This brought me to the University of Ottawa, because I was now enrolled in the Baccalaureate of Education program. Years of teaching in Korea had cemented my passion for the career, and I wished to become a certified teacher in Canada. I am currently in my final semester of the new two-year teacher education program (in the Junior/Intermediate division of the Global Cohort). I have two different practicums under my belt, as well as two different Community Service Learnings placements (with a third upcoming).
There is still much I seek to learn, and my own personal journey will not be finished any time soon. It’s a lifelong process, and it has helped me grow in ways I would never have imagined.