Lorrrrrdtttt, it’s been awhile since my last post! It’s officially winter vacation in Korea, which means that desk-warming is in full affect. Desk-warming, for those of you who don’t know, is when teachers still have to come to work from 8:30-4:30 and stay at their desks. There are no classes to teach, no lessons to plan, and literally nothing to do. Therefore, you sit and warm your desk. Love the name, hate the action -___- Legend has it that desk-warming is the result of teachers in the past being given unfair vacations. For example, some teachers would get the full two months off instead of the two weeks we get in our contract. Once word got out that some people were off scuba diving in Thailand while others were stuck sitting in their offices, the office of education made a blanket rule that everyone had to be at work UNLESS they were on their specific 2-week vacation -__-.
Anyways, since my last post, here are some highlights:
- My bestie Julia and I got to spend some quality time together at the airport just after Thanksgiving. It felt ridiculously great to see someone from home. She also brought me some American goods (Flamin’ Hots, Milk Duds, other chips) and I am eternally grateful. Bud, if you’re reading this, it’s too late… JK! I miss you and I can’t wait to see you soon!
- The holidays -Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s- came and went. I hung out with my co-teachers on Thanksgiving, my Hawaiin friend and soup buddy on Christmas, and myself on New Year’s. The holidays weren’t bad because no one here really cared about them! I, however, felt a SINCERE longing for holiday food! That’s probably what I missed the most….hey, I talk to just about everyone in my family every day. I miss them, but food… that’s a love of a different kind… *le sigh*
- I’m not sure if it’s because my time here is rapidly coming to an end, but I’ve really come to like living in Korea. Read that closely: LIVING in Korea, not working here… My apartment is in the ideal neighborhood, I’m close to transportation and huge grocery stores, and I’ve gotten to know some of the locals- basically what you expect and want when you move to a foreign country, but it took me a long time to really appreciate my setup!
I know that aside from maybe three people, no one gives a fawk about the things I just filled you in on. The point of this blog is and always has been to give true accounts of what working here is like, and OF COURSE, after two months, I could fill a book with stories about the day to day struggle with my co-teachers, co-workers, and the public education system in general. As you all know, the last co-teacher I mentioned was Agent Kay. She has definitely become my leeeeeast favorite person to work with, let alone SEE. The very thought of her….ugh. A few weeks back, we had a really terrible incident in class and I’m mentioning it here because it’s something that I know other teachers will face or have already faced.
To start, before I even began teaching with Kay, hell, before we even finished our first semester of school, she already began to fill me in on what the rest of the year would be like with her -__-. For months, I had been hearing rumors of one particular 5th grade student who is special needs and was prone to lashing out in class and throwing tantrums. I had heard from at least three teachers that just before the last school year ended, he had a fit and actually picked up a computer monitor and slammed it to the ground. I always asked them the same things, “What did you do?” “Why isn’t he in a special class where he can get the attention he needs?” “Do you have any training in special education?” The teachers always responded with answers like, “I just waited for him to stop and tried to calm him down.” “We don’t have classes like those.” “I don’t have training.” To add the cherry on top of a shit sundae, after the awkward silence that usually followed their ridiculous answers, the teachers always said, “But he is so cute, so we don’t really do anything.” Basically, they were trying to make me and themselves feel better by saying that he’s really cute and it’s really cute to watch him go nuts! -___- .
After a semester of regular classes with the kid in question (not that cute, btw…) the day came where he finally snapped. After the kids finished taking their English final, Kay passed their tests back and was starting to go over them. This kid got a ‘B’. As soon as he saw his paper, he started crying silent tears. Kay just kept on reading the answers. Then, he slammed the paper down and everyone got scared and looked at him. When he saw them staring, he started letting out SOBS. I have never heard someone cry like this. It was as if he had just found out that Amy Schumer had won an Oscar… or that his mom had been murdered. They were deep, heartbreaking sobs. I immediately looked at Kay, who gave me intense side eye and kept on going! He starts shaking the desk and she starts reading LOUDER. Now, I’m standing at the front of the room TWO inches away from his desk! ALL of the kids are staring at me, including the one who is crying and shaking his desk. Kay turns into a fawking robot and refuses to even blink or move at all. She’s been petrified and I almost wish Lord Voldemort was there to hit her with the good ol’ Avada Kedavra… Finally, he shoves his chair back and JUMPS up. I jumped, which scared the kids, and he walks up to Kay and starts screaming and yelling at her. She stops and asks him what his deal is and he tells her that he’s scared to tell his mom that he got such a low grade. She just tells him to sit down and hands him tissues. For FORTY minutes he continues these gut-wrenching sobs and Kay just talks louder over him.
She then decides to play a game with the kids as if nothing is happening, which only makes him super upset. The kids are cheering and clapping and being really loud, which- and I’m no expert- didn’t seem to be helping him. If anything, it made him more upset to have all of this noise and commotion. Anyways, the kids ended up consoling him the most, which was really nice and sad at the same time. While Kay was being an ice queen, our other students were really comforting him and telling him it would be okay and even showing him how bad they did on their exams. I couldn’t really do much to help him out because I don’t speak Korean and I didn’t want to touch him in case that made him more upset. It was THEEE longest class of my life and after it was over, Kay finally comes up to me and says, “Sobe… last year, he threw a computer monitor… I think today was okay! He is so cute. Maybe if he was not cute, there would be more problems. Today was a great class!”
Now I know this isn’t Kay’s fault. What’s she supposed to do? She can’t start a whole special education program in Korea in the 5 minutes it takes for a student to go from 0 to tantrum BUT if none of the teachers EVER say ANYTHING here, what’s gonna change? It’s not gonna be cute when he does something one day to hurt his classmates, himself, or his teacher!
I don’t actually hate anyone- who has the time?- but let me tell you….when it comes to Kay… I just know that if I saw a fire out in the hallway before she did, I would quietly excuse myself from the room…and then I would barricade her inside -___-
Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read this post. It’s not exactly a funny one, but it’s definitely an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. As always, if you’re reading this and thinking “Hey! You’re being a jerk! Kay panicked and did the best she could!” then I invite you to calmly exit this page, head on over to Fox “news” and enjoy yourself. That’s where people like you are the most comfortable! Enjoy!