Friday, 13 March 2015

AMSA-DONG English tour through my eyes 

Instead of sleeping in this Sunday I went to Amsa-Dong. It is a pre-historic settlement site in Seoul, South Korea that displays pit houses and Neolithic earthenware that were uncovered after the flood in the year 1925 but excavated only years later. Even if you are not interested in Stone Age pit houses the place has a wonderful park and on a sunny day can be a delightful place to walk or have picnic J
I heard about Amsa-dong from ICI world, an NGO committed to promoting Korean culture to both Koreans and those visiting Korea. ICI offers free interactive tours in various historical places in Seoul. One of those tours is held at Amsa-Dong every Sunday from 10am until 3pm. The tours are conducted by a Korean middle-school student and an international volunteer. The main language of the tour at Amsa-dong is English. Of course Korean is used to help the visitors further understand what is said in English if necessary.   
So on Sunday I had the privilege to participate in one of these tours as a co-guide. I enjoyed meeting the youngsters that conducted the tour with me and learning more about Korean Neolithic history as well as culture, language and habits.
It was beautiful to see how appreciative Korean people are of the opportunity to learn new languages and also to ask about my own culture and language after the official part of the tour was over. It was intriguing how surprised the children were to find out that although I speak English I am not necessarily from England, America or Australia. Also, the fact that one can be born in one country while the parents were born in another country and now live in a third country seemed interesting and unusual to the youngsters although it is quite common in Europe.
In my opinion this tour is a wonderful opportunity to expose youngster as well as their parents to the English language and give them an opportunity to freely interact with international people who are not always native English speakers as it was in my case. Also, as the tour is interactive, the visitors learn new words and are encouraged to use them.  
The middle school students that conduct the tour do it as part of their mandatory volunteer service and at the same time learn public speaking and the art of presentation and problem solving. It was refreshing to observe how the students grow in confidence and in their ability to face different listeners with each tour. It is beautiful to watch J
JJJ I look forward to another one of the tours next Sunday and hope to visit other tours that are conducted throughout the city. Why don’t you join me JJJ   

In case you are interested in more information about ICI and volunteering opportunities:

Picture 1: A Korean middle school student explaining the use of stone hammers and other stone tools.

Picture 2: A row of pit houses.

Picture 3: The entrance to one of the pit houses.

Picture 4: Group picture after the tour was finished J

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