There is one White American girl I formerly studied with, only about 19 years old, I think (and a a full-time regular enrolled student here taking classes in Korean and taking intensive language classes on the side), who was recently promoted to Level5 (the highest level offered here; those who want to do level 6 have to go elsewhere). She is unable to do it because she is back in the USA for the long between-semester break (which is from before Christmas to March 2nd in Korea). There is also a Singaporean -- whose name in English consists of the unlikely initials Q.X. (based on a Chinese spelling) and whose Korean name by which I know her is rendered in initials as T.S.S. She is just as much a native speaker as I am, I think. She will study filmmaking at a Korean university in 2015-2016. She may have been more qualified to do the orientation in one sense: She has lived in the dormitory a long time, which I never have. As it turned out, many students' questions were about dormitory life.
Anyway, yes, besides T.S.S. and I, there are no returning students in Level 4 or Level 5 (the highest level); almost all Chinese. They asked me. I agreed. I will write a bit about how it went.
This lunch and orientation practice were a particular honor in themselves, as I see it, because it is almost certainly the only chance I will ever have to have a conversation with the head boss. Being all in Korean, this was stressful for me. The Chinese translator, a bespectacled Chinese-Korean girl born in the early 1990s, said nothing at all; during lunch I tried to keep things moving conversation-wise, asking the boss questions (which I know is not the Asian way, but which the boss welcomed), though I know I used much wrong grammar.
The boss was a Korean woman in her 40s, characteristically (both) somewhat frantic and rather intimidating. She was more relaxed today, as we had all just come off two weeks' Christmas and New Year's vacation. I learned that she had lived in the USA for some years, I think she said from 2002 to 2006. The subject came up when she asked us, over lunch, what we thought of life in Korea. I said something like, "There's a lot of English around", and pointed at the walls of the cafeteria in which we were sitting, where slogans in English were printed: "Delicious Food", "Eat Healthily" and this kind of thing. The boss impressed me by reading even the English slogan written in elaborate cursive.
We practiced the orientation, which consisted of us going through the text together for a while, then going off alone to "practice". This was all pretty easy because it was just reading, so I thought. Soon we were in front of the room full of 25 or 30 new people. To my surprise (and she hadn't warned us) during the orientation she went off-script, started saying other stuff, and told us to translate on the fly. This suddenly panicked me but I did alright. Then abruptly the all-together orientation ended and I was off with the English speakers to do a more detailed orientation with questions/answers in English alone.Many of them were not true English speakers but of various non-Chinese backgrounds. All non-Chinese are called "foreigners" in the Language Program community. There were about 15 new "foreigners", and few were true native speakers. One was a woman born in the 1970s from Kazakhstan (Level 4). Besides her were various sorts of Asians, some Koreans from Abroad, and five Western Whites: two Norwegians (there are an inexplicably large number of Norwegian exchange students in South Korea), one Canadian, and two White-Americans (one of whom I'd met before, who is in Korea two years on a Fullbright something-or-other, teaching in a city down south; the other was a male born in 1993 who kept making sarcastic side comments or 'suggestions' during the English-only orientation -- but that was fine and it livelied things up).
The English-only orientation, I resolved, was going to be fun, and it was. I remember my own, when I was a new student. The leader was of Chinese-Malaysian parents but who had lived a long part of her life in Australia. She just read entirely from the book. This orientation I tried to make light and fun, not strictly business. I kept asking people if they had questions, which many did. Of course they would; they're new. I answered as best as I could, and those quesitons I couldn't answer I asked if anyone else could in the room. One question was about the TOPIK exam (Test of Proficiency in Korean) and I hadn't taken it; one of the two "Koreans Abroad" in that orientation had taken it and talked a little about it.
It was fun and active. I was proud of it. I went home. The next day I would be back in class, listening again. (The standard Korean for "attend class" is literally "listen to class"). So it goes.