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Athena Pichay

Athena Pichay


What is your position at BHA? 

I am a DP English B HL teacher, and I also serve as the Head of Pastoral Programming for Senior School.


Do you have any current or past professional affiliations and or experiences that help you in your current position? 

I have been teaching for more than 25 years, and I have been a member of ALS (American Linguistic Society), ALS (Australian Linguistic Society), KOTESOL (Korea Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and ELLSA (English Language Learning Specialists in Asia) for many years. I have given presentations in a few workshops in Korea, Shanghai and Guam. When it comes to pastoral roles, I have served as GLC for three years at BHA and also four years in my previous schools. 


Where are you from, originally?

I’m originally from the Philippines. I hail from Vigan, Ilocos Sur, which is located in the northern part of the big island of Luzon. It’s also the area where the Marcoses come from. 


How long have you been at BHA? In Korea? In what other countries have you taught?

This is my 4th year at BHA, but I have lived in Korea for many years because my husband is Korean. We are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this June. He is a senior manager at Korean Air, so we have lived abroad due to his postings. I have taught in Indonesia, Guam, China, and the Philippines. I was also a full-time lecturer for nine years at Korea University (고려대학교) and a teacher-trainer at the Korean Ministry of Education (서울특별시교육청) for two years. 


What languages do you speak?

I am fluent in English, Korean, Tagalog and Ilocano; intermediate in Bahasa Indonesia and basic in Chinese and Spanish. 


What are the best things about teaching at BHA? 

First, I love the students - they are willing to learn and discover new things, not only about language but also about life.  They ask questions not simply to gain knowledge for their exams or to get a good grade, but they want to acquire wisdom that they can later on apply in their jobs and daily lives in general. Second, I love being here in Jeju - the island has a beautiful geographic landscape and rich cultural and historical heritage.


What are you most proud of doing at BHA, so far? 

I have been in charge of organizing some events, and I can proudly say that they have been successful. When I was the Gr 8 GLC, I initiated the ‘Candygrams’ fundraiser, and we raised W1,250,000 which we donated to the Jeju Center for Single Mothers. Again the following year as the Gr 11 GLC, we raised a similar amount. I also organized the ‘Christmas Secret Santa’ party for G12 last year and for the whole Senior School this year - we put up holiday decorations at the PAC foyer, and it created a festive atmosphere which the whole BHA community enjoyed. Moreover, I also revived the ‘Walk of Honor’ followed by the Reception for our graduating class, where the whole community - JS, MS, SS, staff, faculty and parents - came together to celebrate and cheer for our seniors. All of these were successful due to the support of everyone, especially the parents. Owing to my ability to communicate in Korean, I have also taken initiatives to connect with the local community, and we have had events, projects and programs where local business owners, local professionals and community leaders have engaged with our school. 


What inspires you?

My mother was also a teacher, and she always said that what kept her going was the fact that she was able to help shape the life of every student she taught.  I live by her example, and I am always reminded that “to teach is to touch a life forever.”


If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would you share? 

First, language is power - do your best to become multilingual or at least bilingual. Second, learn from every experience you encounter, be it positive or negative. Third, be kind and be humble -  have a kind heart and do good deeds that can change the day or the life of someone, and be humble - admit your mistakes, apologize and learn. 


If you could take the students on a field trip to anywhere in the world, where would you take them? 

I would take them to my hometown, Vigan, Ilocos Sur. It is the Spanish capital city of the Philippines, so there are many historical places to visit, like the St. Paul’s Cathedral, Bantay Bell-tower, Syquia Mansion and the iconic Calle Crisologo.  We can also go to the neighboring province to see the Malacanang of the North, the town of Ferdinand Marcos, the former president of the Philippines and the father of the current President Bong-bong Marcos. Vigan is also famous for its specialty food - longanisa (crispy pork-garlic sausage), empanada (veggie meat pie), pinakbet (okra, eggplant, bitter melon and string beans sauteed in shrimp paste with crispy lechon and pork).  My family has been in politics, so I am well-connected and there are many local folks who can help us enjoy the sights. 


What is your favorite Korean dish?

I love soondooboo chiggye (순두부찌개), and I know how to cook it!


What is something you want people to know about you?

My husband and I enjoy playing golf - I had a hole-in-one about 10 years ago. It was at the Talofofo Golf Resort in Guam, par 3, 151 yards. I used my 3 wood; it was my lucky day : )