So we’re at GePIK orientation at the Hyundai Learning Center. Three teachers to a dorm room, and we have to GET PERMISSION to leave the campus – and they want us to stay in – only there’s NOTHING TO DO if you stay.
One of my damned roommates had the temperature up to 30 degrees celsius. That’s over 80 degrees. Felt like I was at the damned jimjilbang…
The jimjilbang is the Korean sauna, btw. Korean families love to hang out there on the weekend, where there are shared public baths, saunas, cold rooms, automatic massage beds, and the body scrubbing adjummas. It’s also the place where drunk people who’ve missed the last subway and are too cheap to go to a motel sleep it off. You go in, you put your shoes in a shoe locker, and then you go to a desk where they hand you shorts and a shirt and give you a locker key where you can store your belongings. Then, you search for a free square of the floor in which to lie. Hopefully a place far away from the video games or restaurant. A most unpleasant experience, bodies lying all over the marble floors, people snoring, feet in your face, and the overall temperature being about 90 degrees. Some day I will go and do the bath and scrub thing, if I ever get over my fear of being naked among strangers, and maybe I will appreciate it. But sleeping there is one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done.
Day one of the orientation included a traditional Korean stringed instrument performance, a list of rules we were supposed to follow, (it seems some of the last group of teachers were captured in an empty board room on closed circuit t.v. in compromising positions) a pretty good motivational speech by a guy claiming he wasn’t going to give a motivational speech, some Q&A with veteran Native English Teachers, and a once-over of our contracts with everyone’s favorite, (cough,cough) Dain Bae. Followed by the attempted teacher lock down and subsequent break out. All of us pretty offended by the indignity of having to be in dorm rooms and being told we can’t exercise any personal liberties. Which isn’t such a big deal to me, if they had provided something for us to do for the four free hours afterward, but in the absence of that and given that half the people here are over thirty, a bit unreasonable. Probably less than half got Ms. Bae’s permission to leave before signing out to leave the building and probably quite a few didn’t even bother to sign out. Quite interesting to arrive at the first watering hole to find it standing room only with teachers forbidden to go anywhere! I find it amusing that the Korean admins I’ve thus encountered don’t seem to grasp the concept that oppression CREATES dissent. Or maybe it’s just this control game they play and how society works here. I mean, you gotta have something to protest, right?
I did enjoy the Q&A w/ the veteran teachers. And I also found it interesting that the one my region was grouped with bribed his students with candy and gave the children homework so they would take him more seriously. Both of which seem like easy outs to me, but which obviously pay off for the short term. It does seem my teaching experience has been a lot more challenging than most, but I am glad I came here, as I feel even more that I am doing a good job, all things considering…Even if Miss “It’s not my fault, I’m doing the best that I can.” Dain Bae says, “I don’t know why you’re here, but the rest of the people are here to teach English.” I know that I’m here to TEACH. My kids are learning so much more from me than just mouthing English.