Monday, May 10, 2010


Ian and I went to the Goam campus at 11 this morning for our meeting.  When we arrived, the place was dark and no one was there.  At 11:20 Julia called my phone and, sounding distressed, asked if Ian and I were currently at Goam.  I confirmed that we were there waiting and she told me she'd be there "ten minutes later."  I ran to Dunkin' Donuts to get some tea (and some air before what is always an exercise in anxious hand wringing these days).  Ian called as I was walking back to the building to tell me that Julia had gotten there about five minutes ago and was at the computer, meaning we were probably going to have a video conference with Terry.  Terry is Julia's son, for those of you who aren't familiar, who attends university in Australia.  In no official capacity is Terry attached to Yoon's English Forest, but he translates/ composes Julia's hateful, condescending letters to us and he has recently started translating for her via video chat during our meetings.

Julia looked very frazzled this morning.  She wasn't wearing any make up and she sat with her head in her hands for minutes at a time and there were long, awkward pauses in which no one said anything and Terry just sat in Australia, staring at us on his monitor with dogs barking in the background.

She has decided to switch Ian and I.  I'm not sure when it will take effect, but soon (as in, any day now and probably with little warning) I will begin working at Goam and Ian will take over Sinback and Haso.  I asked to be told a week in advance so that we could train each other, but they ignored me and moved on to discussing Ian and my faults as teachers.  Julia is concerned with the low number of students at Sinback (she lumps in Haso, as well, but Haso isn't losing students as far as I can tell) and she believes that I have a critical lack of enthusiasm that is causing this problem.  To be completely honest, when I first started this job I had to learn how to be 'on' all the time.  It took me several months to learn how to engage my students and have the same amount of energy at the end of the day as I do at the beginning.  It took me a long time to adjust and that is one of the reasons I will cite when I tell you I've figured out that teaching is not for me.  That said, I did work it out.  My classes have been running splendidly for months.  We have a rhythm, my students like me and they seem to really enjoy themselves 95% of the time.  Julia suffers from academics might call a "consistency bias," as well as a "self-serving bias."

Julia thinks that if the parents see a different English teacher at Sinback and Haso, that they will be more likely to renew their student's enrollment.  She's repackaging the foreigner, changing it up and creating interest.  You know, like when Coca Cola or Pepsi redesign their labels. 

It's trade places or face being fired.  We have no choice and no right to an opinion or input.  But, I'm completely against it.  I love my students.  I've worked hard to bond with them, I expected to spend a year teaching them and they think that they'll have me for the entirety of my contract.  They are the only good thing about this job.  And while they are not stupendous across the board (I've got some rotten buggers), I'm quite attached to most of them.  Ian's students are a lot rougher.  They're hard on him and I expect no different.  By the time I get to know his brats and start to like them despite their attitude problems, our contracts will be ending.  Being forced to start a relationship with a new teacher will set the kids back at least a few weeks.  They'll have to get comfortable enough to talk freely and without embarrassment again.

One of my students, Natalie, came up to me just before class and excitedly said, "Casey teacher!  I want to see you!"  She grabbed my arm and excitedly shook it up and down.  There was a sub for me last week because Ian and I took Mom to Jeju-do (it was someone named James and I have no idea who they are or if they're a foreigner or a Korean or if they even work for Yoon's).  She was glad to have me back and she cared enough to tell me.  This was probably my last week as her teacher.

Daniel, a problem student of mine who my mom probably remembers sticking white stickers into his glasses and pretending to peer at the people near him, gave me an idol card today.  It's a picture of one of the members of a Korean dance pop group called Shinee.  That's all I know about it.  I'm not even sure which member it is.

I have a new favorite snack food in Korea (not that it's particularly Korean).  I had it for the first time when we went to Iron Man 2 again on Sunday.

Super Mix Kernals Popcorn.  It's a mix of plain salted popcorn, caramel corn and chocolate popcorn.  Man, is it delicious and it's only 190 calories for the whole 45 gram container.  I am also currently in love with M&Ms.

Ian, however, loves a less healthy snack.

Potato Sticks.  I think they smell like fatty death (they're way too oily for me), but Ian loves them more than any other snack here.  They are 320 calories for 70 grams, so about the same calories, actually (I can't read the labels well enough to figure out the fat content).

What is your go-to movie or night time snack?

Good night!

1 comment:

  1. So sorry to hear that. I had a bad feeling that was going to be the case when she made you switch while I was there. Hopefully this change will ensure your staying for the duration of your contract. It is too bad that she can't see the true problem, lack of advertisement, no fun programs or picnics for the parents to see how their kids are doing, etc! Julia seems to me to be a very miserable person in her own skin, and for the most part that spills onto the people around her, especially you and Ian. I watched you in action while I was there, and what I saw was a very strong person able to deal with a angry micro manger for a boss. It took me years before I could deal with just half the situation you are in. You should be very proud of yourself, I know I am.
    I am sure Ian will do his best to prepare you for the new system, with the lesson of last time fresh in his mind, and you will do a good job in training him , so your students can make a good transition. You both will persevere this extremely valuable life lesson and be the better for it. Hang in there!