23 March 2011

Six months in a leaky boat... lucky just to keep afloat...

And in other news…

As I have no classes most afternoons, I usually spend them at my desk planning lessons. While doing this today, Mrs. Park[1] came into my room.

“I have bad news,” she said.

Uhm. I think. Ut-oh. I wondered what I did wrong. I was pretty sure I hadn’t done anything, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. So I sat across from her, and said, “Ok…”

She pulled out a half-dozen sheets of paper, none of which I could read, seeming as they were in Korean. Then she proceeded to explain to me that the school would not have funding to renew my contract for the following year, and that the program was ending.

So… in six months I will be unemployed again. I guess that’s the bad news.

Mrs. Park continued to explain that, though the program was ending, it would likely start again in March of 2012, and at that point she would like to re-hire me[2]. However, that leaves six months of hang time. She then went on to explain to me that she had called her husband, who is a professor at a university, and discussed my situation[3]. Both of them seem to feel that I could easily get a position teaching at the uni level[4], and she said she would help me to do this so that I could stay in Korea until the school could hire me again. She told me that I was a good teacher and that the school wanted to keep me…

But what can you do?

In truth, I’ve been thinking about trying to teach at a university next year anyway. But I’d also thought that, failing that, I’d stay where I was and take another year of a job that provided me ample time to write and pursue all those interests that I’d let wither since becoming all grown-up[5]. Plus, I actually kind of like my job. I get on well with my coworkers, the kids love me[6], and I have fun teaching, even if it does feel a bit more like performance than education.

Anyway, I guess this is motivation to make that jump, right? Good for the career, all that. My one concern is that is that I think Mrs. Park will try to get me in at her husband’s university, which is even farther away from Seoul than I am now… and while there are worse fates in life than having someone willing to get a good job for you, it’s a bit rough for foreigners here outside of Seoul.

I’ve been sick the past few days, so I sound like Peppermint Patty when I talk. This, combined with the fact that I sneezed one time, led one of my co-teachers to decide that I must go to the hospital. So I did, because that’s how they do around here. The closest hospital to me - which is really more like a clinic than a hospital - is a children’s hospital, but I was told to go there anyway. For some reason, my mere presence there caused the nurses to laugh. A lot. Normally I would be ok with this. I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that my life is pretty much bound to be long patches of doldrums interspersed with bursts of humiliation. But being sick makes me cranky, so it hurt my more tender feelings…

Well. Back to doldrums for me… and job-hunting, apparently.

[1] This is her real name. I feel ok about using it though, because I there are only slightly fewer Parks than Kims in my cell phone’s address book. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t hunt her down.

[2] Because I’m awesome.

[3] Have I mentioned that it’s great that she cared enough to do that? It’s pretty great. That’s the good thing about life: When life is unexpectedly shitty, you find out all sorts of people care about you far more than you figured they did.

[4] Again, because I’m awesome. Actually, it’s really because I’m kind of ridiculously overqualified for the position I currently have. Had I done any significant amount of research before coming to Korea I would have known that before I arrived. Instead, I found out about a month later, when I had the opportunity to interact with other foreigners. But research is for suckers. Or people who are good at planning things. I’m really, really not good at planning things. I tend to figure that most things will work out ok. I’m ok with that, because it turns out that they usually do.

[5] You know what’s nice? I have time to draw. When was the last time I did that? High school? Almost… Actually, when I was in Virginia, I tried to take a drawing class, but the lady who taught it was… not very good. I mean, I guess her ability was fine, but she was a bit crazy. The very first class, I arrived early (I’m from the Midwest; we do that sort of thing), so I had time to talk to her and look at her artwork. Because she was the inquisitive sort, she ended up finding out about my past jobs, my past attempts at grad school, and my general meandering through life. Later on, when we got to the actual drawing portion of the evening, she told me that she could tell by my lines that I was a person who would “wander down many paths”. Really? I’m pretty sure she could figure that one out by the fact that I’d told her I’d moved about ten times in ten years, and switched my major a billion times, and my career almost as many… and I was only 28. But whatever, yeah. It was the lines. Oh. And her art? You remember that scene in Ghost World, with the art teacher, and the tampon art? It was sort of like that. I shouldn’t slag art teachers, because I’ve had great ones, and one probably saved my life. Still, they do tend to be a fruity lot.

[6] They do! I’m not lying! They attack me in the hallway, chanting “Kashereen teacher! Kashereen teacher!” and demand that I hug them or give them high-fives. I am so not a high-five person. Even the kids who are bad for the other teachers respond well to me. I think this is because at least 75% of my communication is achieved through pantomime and goofy faces. And really, who doesn’t love Charlie Chaplin?

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