Monday, September 1, 2008

They Call Me Mister Camberell

First day of classes today, after meeting the principal who treated me to coffee and coffee cake as we held a strangled conversation--"I speak baby English-ee," he confessed. Actually, he wasn't that bad, but the endless repetition of the same set of questions is beginning to grate. "Sooner or later, you will come to my house for dinner," he said, like it's an ultimatum. Seriously, everyone has been super-nice.

Here is a crazy, crazy thing. About halfway through the day, I had taught three classes my "introductory lesson"--basically a powerpoint about myself, which ends with some similes: "I am as intelligent as Einstein, I am as funny as Jim Carrey," etc, and task them with writing similes about themselves--when I noticed that all three classes were boys. Not totally strange, since Korean classrooms are segregated by gender. Then the fourth class was all boys ... then the last class of the day was all boys...

So, okay, maybe I'm not as smart as Einstein after all, but nobody told me I am at an ALL-BOYS SCHOOL! Not that it really matters, I'm just saying that seems to me a feature of a school that you might want to mention.

Anyway, I ran through the same lesson five times, and will do it again tomorrow five times, then Wed., Thur., and Fri. four times each. Next week, I will do two lesson plans, since I have all 550 or so "first grade" (tenth year) students, and the elective English students from "second grade."

I had lunch in the teacher's lunchroom, on exactly the same cafeteria tray, with exactly the same spoon and metal chopsticks, that they had at Hyundai Training Ctr. Same food, too. Rice, kimchee, spicy meat dish, two types of veggies, and very tasty soup. It could be much worse!

Miss Cho, one of my co-teachers, took me to the bank after lunch so I could finally deposit my traveler's checks and get some Won. I have a debit card (Koreans don't use checks), and when I used it at E-Mart this evening, they asked WHEN I want the payment withdrawn! What a concept. Although I doubt I could get away with saying next year, it's nice of them to ask.

Mr Hwang, my immediate supervisor, has been awesome. He drove me to work this morning, and took me shopping after school to help me get basic supplies. Then he came back later with a rice cooker (new) and some clothes hangers from his home, since they apparently don't sell them here. I still had to go to all the way to E-Mart again (heehee) to get cleaning gear, breakfast food, and other stuff. I have no doubt I'll make three more trips before I've properly outfitted the flat.


Kelsey said...

Co-ed schools are not segregated. I have both boys and girls in my classes.

ginny said...

Do not let this be a flash in the pan blog. It is hilarious and awesome all at the same time. I love reading it. Talked to Rod yesterday and he wouldn't let me tell him what you'd written for the day because he looks forward to reading it himself! Don't let this bullshit I wrote go to you head! Seriously, keep it coming and so glad you're happy and doing well.

Tanner Brown said...

I'm guessing Korean first-graders don't know Jim Carey, but they prob. revel in the fact that they have not only a real live American but a distinguished professor-looking type. Don't get caught up in all this Korean food. Soon you will come to the food capital of the world, where your friend Tanner's has gotten fat, where you can gorge for three hours at a table with half-dozen friends for $25 total -- beer included. Find out your holiday schedule. Solid post.

Andrew said...

Nice work,

Your apartment and school seem to be way better than mine. However, fortunately, my school is in a very comfortable area to me.

Also, my apartment is roughly 1/3 the size of yours, and that isn't counting your loft. Fortunately it was recently remodeled, so even though it is really small, at least it is new.

I am living right at Seoul National University station, which puts me at a social mecca for bars and restaurants and such.

Depending on how far you are from the subway, it is probably under 30 minutes between us. Let me know if you have any plan for this weekend, and we can get together if you have the time.


Tuttle said...

Hello, all!
Kelsey, do you teach at a high school? All the ones I know of so far have segregated classrooms.

Ginny, I am planning to write regularly.

Tanner, remember this "first grade" is first grade of high school (10th grade). They knew Jim Carrey. Of course, I am a minor celebrity at Young-il High School.

Andy, you should be quite near to Gavin, as he is also in Seoul National area. Let's try to get together.

Kelsey said...

I work at 7 middle schools and not a one of them is segregated by class. I don't work at the 3 high schools on the island, but I know the person who does, and she says they are not either.