The magic of beer


Nothing like a beer and REAL CONVERSATION to make you feel better.

No, actually it’s to be understood and vindicted.  Three of the teachers took me out for a beer after work today.  It’s not often they see another teacher cry, I guess.  The teachers have generally agreed with almost everything I’ve said about English education.  They now understand fully how much I CARE about what I do, WHY I care, and I even think they believe I am going about it the best way in the classroom.  The ones with training in the states understand the TESOL approach and feel it is a more effective way for students to learn a non-native language, but they understand that it is impossible to incorporate effectively in a class size of forty.  They also understand the serious deficit of fostering creativity within this educational model of theirs, and that it is crucial to Korea’s economic advantage in the future.

And I also don’t feel I have an excess of negative energy, but a long list of real and valid traumatic experiences here that others haven’t been blessed with:  from being whisked to my school an hour after my arrival at the place where I had MADE ARRANGEMENTS for two weeks of rest and cultural assimilation and many resources to help me, to be taken to my apartment and left high and dry, to going to work and to be physically isolated and segregated from the entire staff, to not being told what any of the rules were until AFTER I broke them, to STILL not be able to access the internet, intranet, and printers, to have my alien registration card for over a week and still not be able to get a bank account or phone because nobody had enough time to help me, and to be treated as if I were a Korean teacher and not a foreign teacher.  Then there is the poorly written legalese covering travel under the uncommon circumstance of stopping for training, which I would win my dispute over in the states if I had a lawyer, but can’t do anything about because I am here in Korea without recourse.

Except for not being smart enough to know when to shut up about the latter, everything else has been completely horrid, avoidable, and I HAVE ROLLED WITH IT.  But when Dain Bae of GePIK insinuated “whatever your reasons for being here, others are here to teach English” I seriously lost it.  Should read more like “whatever everyone else’s reasons for being here, at least you care deeply about Korea” and btw, NONE of that has anything to do with contract verbiage.  This was the infuriating thing about the conversation with Bae – she kept turning it into personal insult against Korea and flinging personal insult at me.  This is why contracts should be written better.  IDIOT.

It does turn out, btw, that the last foreign teacher was not asked to follow any of the rules I am asked to follow, nor was he asked to work Saturdays.  The Korean teachers pointed this out to me.  There’s no explanation for this, other than the fact that I look Korean.

Anyway, the positive thing to come of all this is I have a half dozen Korean co-workers concerned about me and in my camp.  Maybe they’ll even go to bat for me when it’s needed.

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2 thoughts on “The magic of beer

  1. I find it difficult and hurtful to be considered a foreigner in my own country (or the country that used to be mine) that I never voluntarily left.
    But I find it equally difficult and hurtful to not be considered as a foreigner either, being judged for not acting like them or for not speaking like them, being expected to be live like them.

  2. I think I will feel hurt later. Right now I am just dazed, and my slow as molasses brain can only register, “this does not compute.” And I figure it out later as I write.

    I often wonder who the first returning adoptee was and how they felt. So many of the young ones return, so many have participated in cultural tours. I have met the ones who come to live at Koroot. I have heard of them coming back as long as fifteen years ago. That first returning adoptee must have been the loneliest person on the planet.

    This is not an easy trail to blaze. Hell, it’s not an easy trail to follow fifteen years later. It is my hope that we all talk about what abandonment, adoption, assimilation, and stolen identity has done to us.

    I feel like a boomerang. You can throw me away as hard as you can, but I am designed to come home. I only hurt you if your hand is not open and accepting.

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