Spring is a great time of year in Korea. The trees bloom, the school year starts, new teachers arrive, and Korvia throws one of its parties. Korvia throws about two parties a year, one in the spring and another in the fall. Korvia started the tradition since November 1st, 2006 when they hosted their first welcome party in a tiny officetel with about 80 people. Locations vary within Seoul as do the dates. The most recent one, which welcomed 100 people, was hosted at the new Lazy Cat in Itaewon, a gastro pub and lounge located near a fortune teller down a brick street behind the Hamilton Hotel.
Within the welcome packets of new teachers were drink tickets that could be redeemed for a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at the bar, all marked with coupon next to them. When you attend a Korvia party and you have a drink ticket, make sure to bring it! This year the coupons were Korvia business cards.
Korvia teachers came from all over Korea, bringing friends and guests with them. This party was a bit different from previous Korvia spring parties, thrown earlier in the afternoon from 2:00 pm to 6:00pm so that teachers had plenty of time to come and go as they pleased and to get home without fear of getting stranded in Seoul due to not catching the last train or bus to their town.
While Lazy Cat serves food that teachers could order, the party was located in Itaewon, well known for its variety of food from around the world as an international hub, giving teachers plenty of options to grab a bite of something nearby that they may have missed or craved.
The Korvia parties are helped by a group of volunteers. These range from contributors to people who’ve recently arrived, like Ashten, a new teacher in Pohang, who when asked why she volunteered said: “I felt like helping out a company that has helped me out every step of the way. I thought it would be fun and a good way to meet other teachers and my recruiters.” And Sydney, a teacher from Daegu said, “I like that they make the atmosphere warm and welcoming. They try to help people network, people who’ve been here and new people.”
The Korvia party is a celebration for Korvia teachers, a time to welcome new teachers who’ve made it to Korea after all their hard work. It’s an important event that can help curb homesickness, by meeting other teachers who live all over Korea and from all over the world. You get to know that you’re not alone. There are other people going through what you’re experiencing. It’s a great way to make friends and have a great excuse to see new places in Korea to visit them. And if you want to know who lives near you one of the recruiters will probably know and will be more than happy to introduce you.
“I thought it was fun. There are no foreigners in Paju!” said Rebekah a teacher in Paju.
You can have your picture taken by the volunteer photographer with your new friends or old ones and always stick around for the raffle ticket drawing. The prizes change, this years ranged from adorable Korean socks to tickets for a cruise on the Han river.
Some teachers attend the party because it’s a great time to meet their recruiter in person or to catch up, like Kim, a teacher in Dongtan said, “It was nice to say thank you to the people that helped me get here, with all the panicked emails at 1 am.”
It’s also a chance to unwind and relax, as a teacher who’s been to multiple parties, Sivmui said, “You get to meet new people which is especially good if you live far away in the countryside. And you get to get drunk.”
The party isn’t just fun for the teachers though, the Korvia staff love them too.“What I like is, this is the only day our staff and teachers can stop working. This is fun for us.” said Brian.
Ann said “I like being able to meet the teachers because we talk to them for many months online. It is important for us to see and meet them and to know how they are doing. We hope people use this party to take a break and enjoy it.”
When asked why teachers should come she said “You are brave, you’ve come so far, come make friends and connections.”
Photographs were taken by Brendan Alex Phoenix. The screenshot and edit of directions to Lazy Cat were done by Lauren.