I was recommended to apply for the GEPIK program this year because I enjoy teaching and it would be beneficial experience in terms of what I want to accomplish in my career at home. (I want to be a teacher in the States.)
However, since I started working with GEPIK, I have experienced nothing but disappointment regarding my school, the administration of GEPIK, and how issues are handled. When I was interviewing with my school, I was given the impression that I would have materials (books, worksheets, lessons from the previous teacher) available for me to use. I was also told that the students at my school were excited about having an English teacher and were eager to learn. Those two things couldn't have been further from the truth. I arrived to find no materials from the previous teacher and books that I couldn't teach from because the Korean teachers were using them instead. When I attempted to make my own lessons piggybacking off the interesting parts of the books, I was told to play games for all of my classes. Even games get boring after a while, for both teacher and student alike.
In the beginning, I spent a lot of time planning lessons and making materials on my own, only to find that the lessons I spent time making interesting and fun were a waste. English was the last priority of both the students and faculty at my school, and a co-teacher even went so far to tell me that these students were destined for careers that would never require them to know another language, so they knew they wouldn't have to pay attention or make an effort. It baffled me how then the administration would go through all the time and trouble it takes to get a foreign teacher if they weren't planning on utilizing the teacher effectively. It made any effort I put into my lessons useless, and made classes a daily struggle.
I've also had to pull teeth (so to speak) to make sure that my school honors my contract with regards to sick days, vacation, and my apartment. In September I had surgery and had a doctor's note stating that I needed to stay at home and rest for a week. The surgery was scheduled over the Chuseok and Founding Day holidays, so minimal amounts of school would be missed. Even with a month's early notice and a doctor's note, I was denied my sick days and forced to come to school while sick and in pain. When I contacted the GEPIK administrators to ask for help and clarification about sick days, I received no response. The leadership in GEPIK has been on rocky terms for a while now, and no one is really sure who is in charge of what these days. At my orientation they promised to help us teachers with our school concerns, but in my experience and from others' experiences over the past year, that is not the case.
Many people are upset that GEPIK is cutting the budget for next year's middle and high school positions, and understandably so. There are good schools in the GEPIK program, but they are hard to find and what few jobs are left will be hard-fought among teachers here. However, with less money for the program next year, I have to wonder how much more this will affect how GEPIK responds to its current and future teachers.