Thankfully, I didn’t have to wear a Princess dress. I did have to wear a bright yellow vest though, and stand under a giant sign that read “Mission 2.”
The idea of this program is to give the children a chance to use their English in a “natural” setting. The program is for 8-12 year olds, and consists of 8 missions. The premise is that we, the foreigners, are new in town. Each mission involves us seeking information.
Some of the missions I understand. “How do I get to…”, “What kind of food is this?” are questions I would, and have asked. I probably wouldn’t randomly approach an 8 year old with my question but that’s neither here nor there.
Other missions were less obvious. “What kind of books do you like to read?” “Would you like to go to the movies?” and “I want to reserve a hotel room.” are definitely not things I would teach children to say to strange foreigners.
My mission was “My hobby is swimming. What’s your hobby?” I guess the assumption was once you’d given directions, recommended food and books, and then booked a hotel room together, the logical next step would be to talk about your hobbies.
I was actually a little surprised to see that topic as a mission. Did children who go to school 18 hours a day have time for hobbies?
Our recommended questions were intriguing as well. I especially liked: “What is the merit of your hobby?” Clearly a hobby was only worth doing if it had merit.
There was a list of hobby suggestions at the bottom of the page that included collecting foreign money, collecting stamps, listening to music, and jumping on a trampoline.
By the end of the day, I was going to scream if one more kid told me: “My hobby is….. is…. is….. ah! correcting…. for..eee..jen …money.” Really? If it’s really your hobby, why don’t you know what it is?
When pressed, most students told me their hobby was playing games on their smart phones, usually on their way to and from after-school academies. I didn’t ask them what the merit was.
As I was leaving, one of the Korean teachers came running over to tell me that in September, I had been voted the most popular foreigner.
“Oh. Was there a most popular Korean?”
“Oh. Well, how nice. Does it mean I get paid more?”
“No. But you can have this box of pens. We don’t need them.”
I would take it as a compliment but I think I only won because my mission was the easiest. 😀