1st May 2012 - Back to Korea
Korean Sports Day
I was curious to see the Korean take on sports day, for a few weeks now the kids have been preparing; I have seen them outside practicing for the relay races and stretching yoga type exercises have been played during break times over the TV screens. Plus I was just pleased at not having to teach any lessons for a whole day!
So I came to school as usual and it looked like a festival happening outside; tents had been set up for each class to sit under, flags and bunting had been arranged, stalls selling candy floss, walnut bean cakes and the obligatory roasted silk worms had been positioned around the edge of the school road and the kids were tearing around like lunatics!!
My duty along with my 4th grade coteacher Sujung was to be in charge of the score board (are they kidding, I don’t think they realise how bad my maths is yet), so we were banished inside the gym were there were huge white boards with magnetised numbers for the scores on the window ledges! Well it was pretty hot already outside so maybe being stuck inside with a great view wasn’t too bad! Luckily I really like Sujung so we had fun watching and chatting away, every now and again a kid would appear with a drink for us both so at least we weren’t forgotten! All the parents, grandparents and siblings were setting up picnic mats and umbrellas all around the school, I even found one group of elderly relatives gathered in the corridor drinking soju and playing cards!! Worlds away from the strict security measures we would imply in British schools!
There were some interesting races and activities going on – they did a giant tug of war that involved half of the kids and covered the entire playground! Then they got the parents doing a tug of war too. For the 1st and 2nd grade kids (6-8yrs old) they had a game where they had to push a giant blown up fit ball around a post several times in a circle and then back to their team, they were all really dizzy afterwards and some of them fell over so that was quite entertaining! There was a game for the grandparents; they had to basically throw wooden sticks into a bucket; quite challenging given that most of them were too pissed to see straight let alone throw a stick straight!!
Ben also had sports day at his school and he told me about one race where the kids all had a huge plastic pig and they had to hit it with sticks down the track! Quite a variation of the egg and spoon races of our childhood sports days!! There was also a rugby ball dribbling race between teacher and parents which I took part in – the teachers lost quite considerably after one PE teacher booted the ball and we lost it in the crowd of kids!!
Another weird game was a big plastic ball attached on a long stick in the air and the kids had to throw bean bags at it until the ball broke and then a banner came out of it – this was to declare lunch time!!
After lunch we switched duties so we could sit with the kids and a 1st grade teacher kept the scores instead! I got to go round and see all my 3rd and 4th grade kids, everyone was quite hyper on the candy floss and I got a lot of sticky high-fives and cuddles from the little ones! Lovely! They split the school into 2 teams and there was a mega relay race to finish the day with the blue team winning! The PE teacher was asking me what sports day in England is like so I was telling him about the egg and spoon races, 3-legged races and sack races – he thought they were brilliant so next year he promised to feature an egg and spoon race in the program! It was a fun day and it was nice to play around outside with the kids for a change. It is starting to get seriously hot and humid though already, Ben even got sunburn on his neck today! So sports day in Korea was fun and the teachers and students alike enjoyed themselves!