GwangJu Youth Centre: Where kids get a chance to soar – without ever leaving the ground

A good friend of mine moved over to South Korea a few years ago, Seoul specifically, to teach. This is a familiar story – the graduate teaching English in Asia. Many of us have those friends but do you ever get a chance to hear and see some of what they do, exactly? Teaching out of the GwangJu Youth Centre, this friend, Dieter Harms, sent me a few pictures of something I found so interesting I just had to turn it into a blog post…

Although he had sent clips and images of the activities he had been involved in whilst teaching at a more, shall we say ‘conventional’ school, this new thread came as a surprise. Captioning a picture of himself standing on a rooftop with a tent and a fold-up chairs in the foreground he said, “Check my new classroom. Teaching the kids about camping.”

Dieter posing in front of one of the tent setups at the centre

Dieter posing in front of one of the tent setups at the centre

Now, this in itself would be something fun to write about, teaching kids something about the outdoors as part of an actual syllabus, of sorts. However, the conversation that followed revealed even more astounding content. Have you ever seen a ‘classroom’ designed to look like an aeroplane? Neither had I but that’s exactly where he gets to teach.

GwangJu Airport, ready to board, please have your ticket handy...

GwangJu Airport, ready to board, please have your ticket handy…

The aeroplane classroom, complete with whiteboard and cockpit decals. Looks like it's clear, sunny skies ahead...

The aeroplane classroom, complete with whiteboard and cockpit decals. Looks like it’s clear, sunny skies ahead…

I found it admirable that so much effort goes into teaching kids something we never see here at home, not in a classroom setting at least – an appreciation for outdoor activities and a bit about travelling and some of the aspects that go hand in hand with flying and commuting in general and I’m sure Dieter is all too happy to spend his afternoons in these types of classrooms.

“Teaching camping is brilliant. I give the kids examples of English camping terms and teach them about camping safety as well as some camping games they can play. At the end I even braai’d some sausage for them.

“The youth centre is more about interactive learning than teaching from a textbook. The children need to improve their English and with visual classes they are more excited to learn and they have so much fun that they forget they are actually ‘learning’ at the same time.

“Unfortunately South Africa doesn’t really have the budgets to allow for things like this in classrooms. There’s more money spent on schooling here, mostly funded by the individual municipalities but also by the overarching government,” he said.

In our humble opinion, anyone that’s willing to push an agenda of travel and the outdoors deserves a pat on the back and the GwangJu Youth Centre just gets it all kinds of right. They’re punting a philosophy The Great Adventurer couldn’t agree more with…

Another little peak at the outdoor classroom on the roof. So great!

Another little peak at the outdoor classroom on the roof. So great!

 

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About Baywatch Bergemann

Baywatch Bergemann is a wayward, transient academic who would rather spend his time on the beach or on a hillside than in the classroom. We're thankful for that and that he chooses to spread his wisdom here rather than anywhere else.

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