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Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Balentine's Day"... I realize "B" and "V" are right next to each other... (not a mistake)

Top Left: pot luck dinner goodies
Top Right: time out chair... or, what Molly would say is, "this is where the child molester sits!"
Middle: Pre-K class Valentines
Bottom: ... just read the end of the blog!




Ahhh… another wasted Sunday. It's quite sluggish and maybe even a little pathetic but I really do love doing absolutely nothing, all by myself, one day every few weeks. I mean hey, I would be at the gym but it's not my fault that they are closed on Sunday… haha (easier said than done). I had the typical Saturday night… hence the reason why my Sunday was so unavailing. Molly and Fliss had a last minute pot luck dinner. Once again, I made my famous pasta salad and it was well liked by most. Everyone that came brought so many delicious goodies… a random assortment: deviled eggs, spicy Korean bulgogi (a flat meat dish), sushi, potato salad, fruit, chips and salsa, chicken salad and the macaroni salad. Before heading downtown we stopped at a norae bong (karaoke room). Wow, I can not even remember the last time I sang karaoke. It used to be weekly event but that kind of faded out. It was much needed… after an hour of singing our hearts out, we were shinae (downtown) bound. I'll spare you the embarrassing, drunken details. Over all, it was good fun with good people, like always.

Ehhh work, it's always so wishy washy. I hate it and I love it all at the same time. Of course you know why I love it so much… my kiddies (not just the pre- K class but the older students as well). We are already halfway through this month and my pre-K babies will start Kindergarten in March.. AHH! They are becoming more independent. In fact.. I'm having to wipe their tushies less and less each week. As you can see, we made Valentine's… for 3 years old, they are so good at eye-hand coordination- it's impressive. There are a lot of 5 year olds that really struggle holding a pencil. Some go through a good portion of the school year (Kindergarten) still not knowing how to write their name correctly. Jen and Jenny perfected their name's in 2 classes. Next week my older classes have their big 3 month tests. I'm nervous and very anxious so I can't imagine how they feel. I'm going to review all of next week before Friday's test. I promised all my classes a pizza party (on me) if, as a whole, they make decent grades on this test. We shall see and I will let you know if my teaching payed off this last 3 months.

The bullshit side of work… hogwans (private academies) are notorious for being a little sketchy. I really want to trust my Korean managers but it just seems as though they are always trying to pull the wool over our eyes. For example: three of my co-workers are leaving this month because their contract is up. They called the pension board to set up a time in which they could meet and collect their pension. The pension board told the boys that our management called many, many months ago and reported that they had quit. Why would they do this?…. because, if they quit (which they didn't), then management does not have to pay pension. Now… tell me that's not sketchy.

Our managers go out of their way to make things inconvenient and difficult for you if they don't like you for whatever reason. For now, they like me… I want this to continue so I am just going to suck it up, do my work and hopefully they will make things simple for me when it's my turn to go home. The longer I've been here, the more little things I notice. Like, why does the Korean staff get a big bonus on holidays but we, the teachers, don't? We are bound to our contracts for 1 full year, the Koreans aren't. God forbid we hate it and want to leave… they would make life hell for us. And why does the Korean staff get treated to a big, paid vacation but we don't? It's all a bit unsettling… I know my future career as a teacher will not always feel this disconcerting. Do you remember that big art curriculum I was working on a few months ago for the Kindergarten program? Well, my managers were pushing me to finish it (I don't know why… they didn't need it until March). Anyway, I did an excellent job… I must say, I was very proud of my work. So, March is coming up and of course, they are not going to use it. They waste so much time around here. I worked on that thing for weeks and they aren't doing a thing with it. I was really looking forward to implementing it in my classroom (oh well, their loss).

We've got 3 teachers leaving this month (the worthless schlep is one of them…it's about time). Just today we had a new teacher arrive. It's another boy… I miss working with ladies but I guess he will do. He was supposed to get here on Friday but he missed his flight. The poor boy is already off to a lousy start and I've got a bad feeling about this (ohhh lord, not another negligent asshole). No, no… I've got to stay positive, I'm sure he's very nice and probably an excellent teacher. I can't imagine what people said about me when I first got here. I just need to put myself in his shoes and be kind.

Korean Facts/Randomess:

-Woops… the jokes on me: I accidentally bought the scented toilet paper this week. In Korea, they/I use toilet paper for everything (paper towel, napkin, tissue… you name it). I've been smelling flowers quite often. For some reason you can only buy toilet paper in a giant pack. The first toilet paper I bought lasted me over 5 months so, with only 6 months left… it looks like I better get used to the flowery stuff. Hey, it is soft… I'll give it that! haha!
-Speaking of smell-good toilet paper… since they use it as their napkin, I think it's kind of gross to have a roll of flower smelling toilet paper sitting on the tables while you eat. I mean, shit… you might as well spray perfume into your kimchee. Hmmm….tasty
-So, Valentine's Day, or should I said… Balentine's Day (that's what the Koreans call it) is right around the corner. It is in fact a holiday celebrated around here but it's done a little bit differently. This day is devoted to boys. It is the girls job to ask the boys out and also her job to shower him with gifts (candy…. preferably Ferrero Rocher- the Italian, chocolatey ball of goodness). Ohhhhh boys, you wait… I know you were getting excited. There is another holiday here, very similar to "Balentine's Day", called White Day. This day is on March 14th and it's the day when men shower their ladies with gifts and love. I'm still not done with the "LOVE" holidays… on April 14th they celebrate a day called, Black Day. This kind of cracks me up… this day is for all the single people. The idea is that those who did not give or receive gifts on Valentine's Day or White Day can get together and eat jajangmyeon, white Korean noodles with black bean sauce, to celebrate their singledom.
-I thought this was a joke when I first heard of it but then I asked some of my students and felt bad for ragging on it when they confirmed what I heard… baby wigs! No joke… Korean's often buy their little girls/babies hats with hair connected. It's beyond me why this is done but for the Koreans it's just part of their culture. Babies are new … they aren't supposed to have a lot of hair. My 9 year old female students were so confused at why I thought this was silly. They all wore them when they were little, especially when taking baby photos. The picture above illustrates the baby hats/wigs perfectly (I didn't take this picture, I found it on google).
-Korea has the highest stomach cancer rates in the world because of the kimchee (made with chili and salt)- that'll do it! Good thing I'm only here for a year because I love the stuff.

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