Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Peers

Yesterday I had a meeting with the other teachers from my city's district. The purpose was to discuss and sign up for the English Cafe and Summer Camp.

In my contract it stipulates that I must do a session of English Cafe for the city. Basically this is where I will go to a youth center location in the city and teach an evening program of English to Elementary youngins. I only have to go once a week for 6 weeks. Actually I don't really know how long I have to do this, which brings me to the highlight of this meeting.

The meeting served a great purpose to see who my peers are in my region. I got to see the other public Elementary school teachers. But when it came down to all of us working together things fell apart, in my opinion.

English Cafe Selection Process:

First we were to be assigned which place and date we would work at for English Cafe. There were two locations, one close to my home and another a bus ride away. But I didn't find this out till after the fact. When they started discussing the English Cafe I was confused how it all worked but didn't a get a chance to chime in. This is because the more experienced teachers starting barking what days they want and location.

The selection process was by drawing a number out of a small black-box, which is ridiculous if you ask me. But no one asked me. I ended up with a number for the English Cafe that is a bus ride away and I was pissed. They gave us the opportunity to switch with each other, but by the time I figured out what my number meant everyone had finalized their switches and was stubborn to change with me. Needless to say I felt, as a new teacher, duped.

Summer Camp Selection Process:
But then came the Summer Camp week selection. In the summer the kids will have 38 days off for vacation. As a teacher I have to teach 1 week at school and 1 week up in the mountains just like I did for winter camp. I understood what all this was about and didn't have any questions.

So once again the little black box came floating around. Luckily it started at my end of the table. To my delighted surprise I received the first week of camp duty. This was a big relief. For I am trying to plan to visit America in the summer for two weeks. All I need now is to secure the 2nd week of summer vacation as the school's version of camp, and I will be set!

Oh but then it came time to meet the other people who will be at the camp with you. So the first week group got together and immediately everyone starting writing down what activity they will teach. Before I was able to open my mouth most of the spots were being taken. First I wanted Arts & Crafts, taken! Next, Movies...taken! Next....Cooking...taken! The option left was Drama and I am not a drama person. So after some negotiation I ended up with Geography, which I was pleased with.

But what was unpleasant was how disrespectful everyone one was. Instead of as a group deciding what we want to do, everyone individually jumped in and claimed a spot. Although, the members in my group appear to be nice people I feel that due to this one hiccup on the first day of meeting that I will not look forward to working with them. But I have 3.5 months to get over it so we will see.

My Peers:
But let me get back to the subject of meeting my peers. Looking around the room I saw a wide selection of teachers. Mostly men but there was a good sized group of women as well. Also there was some diversity in the crowd, not only in racial background but also experience.

After the meeting everyone migrated out the door and I walked up to a group of women. They said hello and asked if I was going to the bar. I said no and that I didn't know we were going there. So they invited me. We introduced ourselves on the walk over. I felt kind of nervous because I knew I would not want to drink but others will.

The bar we went to was on a rooftop and so had a patio. We sat outside and enjoyed the warm air and cool breeze. I ordered a kiwi juice drink while others ordered beer. I didn't get teased, thankfully and so felt at ease.

More teachers showed up and soon everyone was chatting, laughing and having a good time. I got to know some new people and hopefully made some new pals. Facebook will be the magic wand for now...haha

But what I enjoyed most was getting a glimpse of other teacher's experiences here in Korea. It seemed everyone enjoyed their jobs and being in Korea.

However, I got the distinct sense that my overall experience here has been contrastingly different from most teachers. For one I never spent any nights going crazy and drinking it up in Itaewon. It seemed everyone had a story of some great drinking adventure they went on. I didn't feel jealous, but kind of like an outcast. Wondering if I am the only one.

Ah well it was stilll good to get to know my peers and speak English in full on sentences.


  1. The easiest thing to do at a bar situation is just to drink something -- like you did with the juice -- and most people won't even notice you're not drinking alcohol. Even water you can usually get away with -- that's what I do. :)

    It's amazing how varied peoples' experiences are here. Personally, I'd rather not get piss drunk and be able to enjoy my weekends...

  2. Who really needs drunken Itaewon nights. I prefered our cheeseburger, krispy creme movie watching night. Glad we hung out! Let's do again soon. I'm planning on cooking again soonish so def let you know=^^=

  3. Were these Korean teachers?
    Westerners? OR a mixture of both?
    Not clear from your post!

  4. Another's really NOT too late to email the other teachers if that's an option & ask if someone is still interested in a switch w/u re: the bus ride location..
    May work out for someone that is equally disapointed as you for some reason.
    Wouldn't hurt to try!

  5. I think there were some Gyopo's (Korean Americans). And there were Koreans but not teachers...the administrators of the meeting.

  6. Note: gyopo's are not Korean Americans.


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