Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Rumor Mill

Yesterday being Friday, my teaching day ended at 12:30, so I went home and took a nap, worked on some lesson plan ideas, etc, before going to the gym for a "moderate-to-heavy workout" of 28 km (14 each) on the elliptical trainer and the stationary bike. Add about fourteen minutes on the treadmill and a couple of water breaks before walking up seven (that's 7) flights of stairs to the third floor, that's nearly an hour and a half.

It's taken me months to get to this point, and my weight change is still marginal, but--I do actually feel better. I ran to cross the street before the light changed the other day, and I wasn't even winded! Gweon Keun-yer 권근열 (English name I gave him: Jeremy), the young guy in charge of the gym, has expressed his pleasure in my limited progress using his limited English. He notes hopefully that my face is thinner--which is often the first place weight change is visible.

Anyway, so I come upstairs and my phone (which I don't take down to the gym with me) is making the sound it makes for a missed call. I call back, and it's Mr Wright, actually Lee Sang Hyeong 이상형, following up on his invitation earlier in the week to go out drinking.

Well, I have to shower, etc, and end up meeting at 8:00 near the school at a Western hof called Adonis which has a pirate statue and a Civil War soldier statue out front. Yeah, transplant that set up to America and you have the gayest gay bar in Gay Town. Moving on ...

Pey-ga go pai-yo, I'm hungry. So's he, so we order some chicken and chat; meanwhile, some fellow Young-il teachers start to trickle in. The Research Dept has had a "meeting" nearby, so Mr Pak the assistant principal, big Mr Lee, Lee Geum-cheon and couple of other major players come in.

Very soon, they get to the point: they are disappointed to hear that I do not want to come back to Young-il next year. I ask where they heard that, since no one has even asked me.

It seems someone in the administration office has started a rumor to that effect. I made it very clear that this was untrue, that I had thought for some time on the issue and had decided that I would re-sign at Young-il if a contract was offered to me. But so far, no contract had been offered.

I explained my calculus on both sides: on the plus side, everyone at the school has been kind and supportive to me, and they take education seriously; my officetel, though small, is well-located, near the school, across the street from E-Mart, and I can't wait until line 9 opens!

Jeungmi Station sign with my officetel in the background
On the negative side, I explained that I am often frustrated in attempting to do my job--that is, get students to speak English, whether to the whole class or just to one other person. I spend hours, I said, consulting the best sources, developing interesting lessons, often to no avail. I meet students once a week, so I have little chance to get to know them.

Anyway, I told them, with Mr Wright and Mr Lee interpreting, I will not stay in Korea for too many years, I will go home to America. My experience has kind of spoiled me, since I know from my friends I am lucky to work with such good people. Even so, I want to experience other parts of Korea outside Seoul, perhaps, or maybe someplace else in Asia, "as long as I am here". They understood.

But at least for next year, I plan to teach at Young-il, despite what they have heard from the rumor mill.

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