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Coming from a school full of vibrant and young students, I felt weird standing in front of students who are older than me. Although the students and teachers were welcoming, I wasn’t able to erase off my awkward smile. In a tiny space without a place to stand comfortably, I was getting overwhelmed by the chaotic vibe and the humidity. Nevertheless, I wasn’t able to stop the adrenaline rush through my veins as it was almost my first time interacting with North Koreans at this level. 

Wooridle School is a school for North Korean defectors in Seoul that has students from 15 years old to 33 years old. The school is operated by the government, but its facilities were not as good as other government-run facilities that we’ve been to. From the outside, the school seemed more like a private institution(academy) than a school as it was located on the fourth floor of a building full of academies. It reminded me of my old days when I had to go to academies every day (in South Korea), and I easily adapted to the environment by thinking that I’m like the teachers I’ve met at those academies. 

Unlike at Jiguchon where we paired up to teach the same class, we had to teach individually as there were 8 different classes. Luckily, I became in charge of the 3 students who came from North Korea, and I had no concerns about language barrier. In the first period, I focused on reading comprehension with the materials I prepared with the group. Surprisingly, most of them didn’t struggle with reading, and I was able to stick to my lesson plans. Second period was a free conversation session as the students asked to practice their speaking skills. With their upcoming English interviews, they seemed quite stressed about the fact English speaking is still daunting to them despite their efforts, so I tried to encourage them by giving them tips to be fluent in English. 

The best part of teaching at Wooridle was that I was able to teach in a small group. Since my students were older than me, I was also able to talk to them about their experiences in North Korea without offending them. However, it was more exciting to learn about their endeavors in South Korea after learning that most North Koreans fail to integrate into the society in AMES 178 class.