1) The Kinderloca graduation
2) A "Shit" show... we discovered wigs and masks at the norae bong (karaoke)
3) Korean flag... (explanation at bottom)
What a week its been… where do i begin? One teacher finished his contract and left, one teacher got fired on Monday then unfired at the end of the week (how does this happen?), two other teachers, as well as the unfired schlep, got put on the shit list. Four of us are still well liked but I am absolutely terrified of being disliked because this shit list that i speak of is HELL. It's pretty easy to be disliked around here…. basically, all you have to do is stand up for your rights and complain… often. Once this happens, your doomed! Since your bound to a contract, they own you for that 12-13 month period and if your working at their school, they can do whatever they want to make it extremely unpleasant. So… your probably wondering why this shit list is so terrible… it hasn't even been a week and so far these three boys have to move out of their apartments (oh, did I mention that they only had a 24 hour notice to do it) into smaller apartments or with shitty roommates. Their classes were taken away, the ones with all their favorite students. Management neglects to invite them to any work dinners and… worst of all, they took away their health insurance (this is a sketchy issue that will surely blow up tomorrow when the labor board and lawyers are involved). It's so hectic right now around here…everyone is shuffling apartments, except the girls. The good/non complaining teachers are being rewarded with the nice apartments. I've already got a nice apartment all to myself so luckily I am just sitting back enjoying my Sunday. There is so much hostility on the 6th and 7th floor. Some of the guys are refusing to leave which has created issues for everyone (one person cant move unless another person moves). Some of us can't stand to even be associated with the hostility so we are all planning on going out for a LONG dinner. There is another new teacher coming tonight. Man, I feel so bad for him… coming into all of this at the worst time. Most of us will try hard to be positive and helpful cause the drama is going to scare the shit out of him. So, all in all… i've got my plan for the next 5 1/2 months… or 6 1/2 if I get put on this shit list. even though things are sometimes really unfair, I will just tough it out. I wont show any negative emotion at work, I will keep to myself, I will try really hard not to complain, I will do WHATEVER is asked of me, I will try not to jump on any bandwagons (the bandwagon is on it's way out the door anyway) and, most important, I will be the best darn teacher I can be. You heard me say it… now, let's see how these next 5 to 6 months play out.
Metaphorically speaking, this job is like prison… you have to be here so you might as well make the best of it. If you follow the rules and act right you might get rewarded, but if you complain and act like an asshole then you have to stay longer and you end up on the shit list with the big man.
Because I'm walking on eggshells everyday… lately, I feel like I'm loosing myself as a teacher. I shouldn't be worrying so much about all the business legalities, i should be worrying about my students. I am hoping that in a few weeks, all the bullshit will fade out and things will run a little smoother. The school year will end on Monday and March begins a new school year. I will have all new classes and a new schedule. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday i will work from 10 to 7:05 and on Tuesday and Thursday I will work from 10 to 4:10. My classes consist of Kindergarten (Jen, Jenny and new comers Jason and Bruce), an after school Kindergarten level class, an after school first grade level class and an after school 3rd/4th grade level class. I have no idea what books I'm teaching but I just gotta roll with the punches… I hope they tell me on Monday so I can plan for the first day- Wednesday (Tuesday is a national holiday: Independence Movement Day).
During the shit (you have noticed… "shit" really is the operative word for this week's blog, haha), it's nice to know I have excellent friends. On Friday, I hung out with my friend Skip. I know Skip from back home, we both worked at the same pool. He just moved to Gwangju this week. We had a great time chatting and drinking somik (soju and beer) in front of the 7-11… that may sound ghetto but it's Korean style to hang out in front of the 7-11 or the minimart and drink. Saturday was loads of fun! Thank god Molly called and woke me up because it was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and I was about to waste it all away in bed. I went to her dong (neighborhood) and we walked from there to downtown. We met some friends and enjoyed an early dinner at First Nepal (fantastic Indian food). After our tasty meal, we went to a norae bong and spent hours dancing, drinking and singing out hearts out… yet again!
-Spring is approaching and it has definitely lightened my mood. It's been so nice.. I stopped using the heater. I even open my window during the day and let in the cool, fresh spring air. I am loving it… bring on the HEAT (I think I will regret saying that once July and August's weather come).
-March 1:Independence Movement Day in Korea-
March 1st is a day to celebrate Korean independence. It was this day in 1919 that several members of an underground movement read the Korean Declaration in Seoul. They were protesting the Japanese occupation. The basics of the day is that a group of Korean nationalists chose March 1, 1919 as the day that they would read the Declaration of Independence in public and really defy the Japanese. It did not mark the day that the Korean’s became independent, but it was a turning point. This particular event resulted in the Japanese taking actions against the movement. Thousands were said to have died and tens of thousands were arrested.Today, the Korean people remember this day by reading the declaration in a ceremony in Seoul.
-I plan to briefly discuss this day in class. I am curious to see what my students know and what they can teach me about this holiday. We will talk about the history and then discuss the significance of the Korean flag and what each color/symbol symbolizes.
-Maybe your curious… look at the picture above and read this information: South Korea's flag was adopted on January 25, 1950; the flag is called Taegukki (which means, "Great Extremes").The white in this philosophical flag represents peace and purity. Symbolically, the Yin-Yang symbol represents opposites; it is the belief that all things in the universe have two, opposite aspects that cannot exist without the other. The kwae trigrams are from the I Ching; the broken bars symbolize yin (dark and cold) and the unbroken bars symbolize yang (bright and hot). The four Kwae represent: heaven (three unbroken bars), the Earth (three broken bars), water (one unbroken line between two broken bars), and fire (one broken bar between two unbroken bars). The Kwai trigrams are placed in such a way that they balance one another, heaven is placed opposite Earth, and fire is placed opposite water.
-I finally got to see my new nephew, baby Liam. WOW, he is the most precious baby I have ever seen. I can't believe how much I love him and I haven't even met him in person!