Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Alcohol prohibited at GEPIK orientation.

Drinking or bringing alcohol to the Gyeonggi English Program in Korea [GEPIK] orientation from April 25th to 29th will get you expelled, according to the latest orientation guidelines. From the YBM website (.doc file) under "General Guidelines," via this Waygook.org thread:
10. Alcohol is strictly prohibited. This includes drinking alcohol
and/or being in possession of any alcohol.

And from the section on what will get you expelled from the orientation:
If one of the following situations should occur, you will be expelled from the orientation and your school will be notified:

1. If your attendance at the orientation is negligent.

2. If you do not adhere to the GEPIK Orientation Guidelines or the
dormitory rules.

3. If you drink alcohol and/or are caught in possession of any

4. If you are found gambling or engaging in any type of
violence/abuse/loose conduct and/or behavior.

5. If you do not follow the instructions required for the orientation

Anecdotal evidence from blogs and forums like Dave's ESL Cafe tells us that drinking is a notorious part of the GEPIK orientation process. It even made the Korean press---always on the look out for news, rumors, or, um, anecdotal evidence of foreign teachers behaving badly) last fall in a NewsDaily article "원어민 교사들에 술판으로 한국 문화 소개?" ("Native speaker English teachers introduced to Korean culture through drinking parties?") A brief look at the article is available at this Gusts of Popular Feeling post, which looks at the misinformation and incorrect statistics that inform yellow journalism on the NSET front; an excerpt from the aforementioned article:
The article begins with the exciting phrase "A crack in the management of the Gyeonggi Education Office's adaptation program for native speaking teachers has been exposed." It then reveals that the Facebook pages and blogs of teachers who attended GEPIK orientation reveal that drinking parties were going on during orientation. Teachers are quoted from their blogs saying that orientation reminded them of university or that they wanted to die. GEPIK officials express shock and promise to get to the bottom of things, tighten up management of the program, and prevent future outrages.

From there the reporter uses another online source - a community of Korean English teachers, especially part-time English instructors working on contract in public schools. Miss Hwang (28), a member of the online community working at an elementary school in Ansan, reveals that "I've been driven to the edge by the insincere attitude towards work that the native speaking English teacher has."

While attendees are all of legal drinking age, and while alcohol is a noticable part of both Korean society and of the school experience, a ban is probably for the best. A drunken frat-party after-hours shouldn't be included in an introduction to teaching in Korea, and it sounds like at least a few teachers need that reminder. One poster from that Waygook.org thread:
Doesn't surprise me. Last year it was embarrassing to see all the garbage that people left all over the campus. Not to mention some idiots who started drinking at 8:00am. One guy in my seminar had to be removed because he started rambling incoherently in the middle of a lecture. The yearly orientation is a perfect example of why Koreans think all NETs are drunken morons.

And another:
[W]hen I went in 2009, it was nothing but three days of partying. It was rather gross seeing everybody getting sick and puking on everything. Even the staff members were plastered and had poor behavior. I think it is good to ban alcohol. It shouldn't be a big party. It needs to be oreintation. Anybody who complains about there being no booze or bars to go to are just being childish.

For programs for the upcoming orientation see this YBM post, and for other notices and information see this one. The 25th to 27th will be for elementary-school teachers, while the 27th to 29th will be for secondary-school teachers.


Chris in South Korea said...

I wonder if there's a Korean word for 'double standard'.

Stafford said...

No surprise at all. I'll add that the GEPIK Orientation I had the misfortune to attend was no different with a huge number of (young, new to Korea) teachers getting shitfaced. Those if us with a bit of maturity and decorum had a few beverages of course, but in relaxed adult manner. There is always a few dorks who spoil it for the majority.
Of course it doesnt help that one of the senior Gepik admins had a bit of a rep as a pisshead when she was at varsity in New Zealand....

Alex said...

휴~ This is a little difficult to comment on. My orientation was pretty good way back in the day...but I was so jetlagged I didn't partake in any of the festivities, so I'm not really sure what went on. But the problem is definitely the fact that the teachers they bring over are treated as first-year-university students more than professionals from the very first moment - which is only reflected in the new rules -, and so they act the part. Moreover, Chris definitely has a point about the double-standard of the fact that alcohol is EXACTLY how Koreans would induct any new (other korean) members of any of their work forces.

...that said... I notice increasingly the drunken buffoonery of the native teachers...

Danny said...

HA! One of the presenters at my orientation brought soju to teach us the proper way to pour and drink it during a school party. Though that wasn't with (G)EPIK but directly with the MOE.

kimchidreadlocks.com said...

I understand GEPIK wanting to better regulate the consumption of alcohol in the face of waygook drunken bafoonery, but I must say, I think an all out ban is excessive. At my EPIK orientation, there was a 1 AM curfew for the dorms. Yes there were people who got inebriated, but if they missed curfew, they were forced to find a motel and sleep it off. With more than 500 people in attendance at the 10 day orientation, I'd say it was a good strategy.

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

A complete ban is a great idea. While it may be a double standard, I know no one who considers Korean drinking culture a good idea so a different standard is probably wise.

While there's nothing wrong with drinking in moderation, most orientations that I've been to have a significant number of people that have an inability or unwillingness to keep it at a reasonable level. The curfew closes the door at 1 AM, but people stay out until the doors open at 5 or 6, stumble in for two or three hours of sleep and then go to their lectures for the day.

It's the same as the national record checks, drug checks, transcript checks, etc. A few unwise people ruin it for foreigners in Korea and people in general.

Chris in South Korea said...

I might simply state that failure to complete training will result in not getting reimbursed for your flight over. Missing a day of training or being late more than twice would result in an automatic fail, and would result in getting sent home on your own dime. That way there's a real consequence for being stupid.

Despite the locals using any number of excuses to get wasted, the social graces that are paired with the drinking at least prevent the majority from doing anything TOO stupid... Then again, society does make the breaks for them - how much work REALLY gets done at 10am?

wetcasements said...

Why do they do the orientation after the spring semester starts?

3gyupsal said...

If you put 300 strangers together, of course they are going to want to break the ice with each other.

They could just try skipping the whole orientation process and have the job training be done at the individual schools. Make an orientation for co-teachers so that they know what they hell is going on when a school gets a new native teacher. Require schools to submit NET curricula...never mind I forgot that having a plan is never really an option.

shotgunkorea said...

Finally, someone thought of a way to make GEPIK orientations even more enjoyable.

brent said...

I had to go to a few GEPIK orientations and I never saw anyone doing anything stupid, silly, ridiculous, drunken or anything that could be looked upon as negative. I must've been at ones where things were tame. It was very annoying always being treated like a child, though.

Levi Kaufman said...

Are the Korean staff and teachers also prohibited from drinking or just the foreigners?

Stuart said...

Fortunately, I haven't been asked to come to one of these things in years. The last one that lasted for more than one day which I was ordered to go to was a total embarrassment.

Once again GEPIK hired very young fresh out of university applicants. Some of them got wasted and trashed a hotel room with a fire extinguisher. I learned about it the next morning, when the hotel had called the police.

The first orientation I went to in 2005 resulted in a big fight in the early hours of the morning with somebody trying to kick a door down. Amazingly, I slept through all that and again I only learned about it in the canteen in the morning when somebody threw a meal tray across the room and started swearing at me and threatening to throw some people out the window.

Fortunately, I don't work for GEPIK anymore.