Today was our third field trip at our first school in Korea, and it was by far best we have had up until this point. While our expectations and initial impressions may have been rather low, the day quickly turned to on one of the most positive experiences we have had with the children. What turned the day into such a good one? Nothing more than a parking lot, two blow-up slides, an inflatable pool, a host of water pistols, and a rediscovered chlidishness inside us teachers.
For the whole month, we have been aware that the field trip would be to a water park. Our initial thoughts of travelling to a massive theme park with three-storey slides was quashed by our co-workers who had been at the school for more than a year. They told us that in previous years, there had been little more than a couple of slides in a small parking lot. When we arrived at the ‘water park’ this morning, they were proved correct. I looked upon the two slides, splash pool, and pavement with dread. I felt that the children would quickly be bored, and the day would turn into a constant hunt for explorers seeking entertainment outside of the small oasis of fun. How wrong I would be.
The children ate their snacks, which ranged from healthy fruit to exotic sweet things, and changed into their swimming clothes. The slides were ready, and so were the children. I was not ready for how much fun would be had in the short time we would spend in a Korean soccer academy’s parking lot.
The children soon became one with all of the watery objects, sliding and swimming and sliding again. Almost as quickly, the first streams of water flew from a water gun. Thus began the aquatic warfare that would not cease until the ‘adult’ teachers were told it was time to return to the reality of the school. The majority of children had brought water guns with them, of varying size, functionality, and effectiveness. The teachers happily scavenged any guns that were left unattended, and I managed to sample almost every means by which children and other teachers could be covered in water.
My personal favourite was a foam water cannon in the shape of a pink unicorn. Apart from the ridiculousness of the image that was created by my wielding this weapon, it was also remarkably good at its job. Its operation was simple: put the end of the tube into the water, pull on the handle to suck water in, point it at your target, push the water out again, and watch as your quarry is covered in water. The only limitations were the strength of one’s arm and the limited water capacity. In a young girl’s hand, it made a soft stream that reached a few metres. In my hands, it was a siege weapon capable of reaching across the entire parking lot, from the floor to the top of the taller slide. I had more fun than I probably should have through drenching children. And I wasn’t the only one.
The pools were prowled by students and teachers equally determined to spread watery havoc to the best of their ability. Children played. Teachers forgot that they were meant to be working, and played as well. Work was a foreign concept in the small playground where we enjoyed a bubble of simple childish joy.
While I one day might look back at my experiences in Korea and see all of the bureaucracy and duties and mundanity of day-to-day teaching, tonight, I remember what it feels like to be a child for a while. I cast off my glasses, my negative attitudes, and my disciplinary teaching facade, and sprayed children in the face with a pink unicorn. Today was a good day.