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Young Citizen Journalists Warming Up
Eleven students spent two days at OhmyNews English News Camp
Lee Ga-yon (greenrkdus)     Print Article 
Published 2008-09-03 08:41 (KST)   
"From now, you should speak English, only."

With this simple sentence, spoken by Jean Min, communications director for OhmyNews, the first day of OhmyNews English News Camp started on Aug. 9.

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Riding the bus to OhmySchool in Ganghwado, students who joined the camp were told to interview their assigned buddies in English.

At first, most of their faces stiffened at having to interview someone they had just met. They tried to talk with their buddies, but it was difficult. After a couple of minutes, though, students slowly started to ask questions such as "What's your name?" and "How old are you?" The interviews finally started. Even though the interviews had started, words were stuck inside the mouth and tongues were all tied-up. "Oh God, please bless our tongues."

However, students soon became comfortable with the atmosphere even though it was awkward at first. They kept asking questions that were becoming more specific and deeper than about name and age. With information of each other exchanged, students were getting to know each other more step by step.

After arriving at OhmySchool, students had about half an hour of free time. During that time, the girls gathered together in their room. At first, there was an awkward silence. When their eyes met, they just smiled artificially. However, in no time girls started chatting. Some of them laughed, some of them kept talking. Shortly, they no longer felt the slight awkwardness that had filled the room before.

Then the students were ordered to gather in the computer room. Cynthia, Hye ji and Jean gave lectures on online journalism and writing articles in English. Cynthia, an editor of OhmyNews International, told students to write articles based on the bus interviews. Again, the students were embarrassed.

"How should we write?" one of the students, Kim Yoon-jin, asked the others. But nobody had any idea.

Students looked at their notes and thought again about their interviews. As the students were not professional journalists, they found writing articles very difficult. It was truly a difficult task even to write one short article, but finishing a first draft created this new feeling of satisfaction, that of a job well done. They had written an article in English!

Also, by checking the interviews of their buddies, they felt closer to their new classmates. They also learned more information about each other's lives and surroundings.

Student Lee Jae-won wrote about his buddy Ga-yeon's school life. He said he thought about the highly difficult and competitive school life of Korean teenagers while he wrote about how students steal each other's notebooks at his buddy's school.

"I think I got to know you better by hearing about this part of your life," Jae-won told Ga-yeon.

However, the real chance of getting to know each other was during the free time after class time. Students followed their teachers outside. Under giant white parasols were platters of chips, cookies, watermelons and peaches. Students cheered in surprise and they quickly sat down to eat and chat.

The night sky was dark and there was a peaceful breeze. Although there were many mosquitoes buzzing about, students wanted to stay and talk more.

Laughing and whispering, giggling and talking filled the air. Maybe that was all that they did, but it was all that was needed to build good friendships. After snack time, the students returned to the girls' room to play games. The boys seemed quite shy when they first came in. But they all became fast friends, playing a game called Mafia.

Mafia had the students guessing who was the "mafia" in their midst. All the students became fully engrossed in the game and played for two hours. They could not feel the time pass by.

Next were ghost stories. It was close to midnight and as their school was an abandoned elementary school, it was the perfect setting for telling scary stories. Girls sat together and shivered as one boy started his story.

"It's my own story. I was walking through a side alley when"

Some girls screamed and some hid themselves under the blankets. Feeling foolish for screaming, they all laughed together. It was a big joy to be with friends, playing games until 3 a.m.

"It was so fun to meet new friends here," said Yeon-woo, while students were packing up to go home.

For students, it was not only a good chance to improve their English skills and to be introduced to journalistic writing but also a great opportunity to meet friends from different ages and schools. Although the camp was only a weekend long, students were satisfied with the time spent with each other. They all had great smiles on their faces on the bus returning home.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Lee Ga-yon

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