You have failed and now you must Daegu!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Me with Su-jin's puppy.

Two of the thank you cards I received last week. I guess Soo-min and Won-jin liked me. These were two of the more creative cards.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ugh. My first summer camp has finished already. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't much fun. First, the host Native teacher was a real pain in the ass. She's been teaching ESL for 6 years and now talks to everyone like they're a 9-year old Korean student. It's grating. Or she could just be slow, but given the attitude on her, I doubt it. On the first day, she chose to offer her two cents on the election(she is American, but she might as well move to France). First, she gleefully announced, "I'm practically a hippy peacenik." Oh brother. I swear I did my best to keep my mouth shut. I loathe talking politics because everyone I talk to wets themselves and flops into a sputtering rage. Then she offered a bizarre conspiracy theory about how Barack Obama is going to have the election "stolen" from him by John McCain. At this point McCain is just happy he's remembered to wear pants every morning. I don't think he'll be "stealing" anything. Either way, this was the first day that we met. In fact, first conversation. By the end, I just stopped speaking to everyone in hopes that conversations would just die out without my help.

Then, I was informed that I had to put on some kind of performance with the kids. This was five minutes before practice began for the performances. Mine was lame. I freely admit. Here's a recording of the song we sang. We made signs for each of the feelings...

Sellers just made this his ringtone. My kids were in 3rd grade and I wanted them to understand what they were saying. I stand by my choice.

Then, we had the actual classes. They were 50 minutes long. I'm used to 40. I also discovered that Korean kids LOVE Mr. Bean videos. I played the one were he got the massive turkey stuck on his head. The class was three seconds away from wetting themselves.

The Korean staff was helpful and by helpful, I mean did nothing to get in anyone's way.

The rooms were air conditioned, so I had that going for me.

I went out for beers with the other teachers(except you know who) the night before the performances. Great people. It was the first time I hung out with Canadiens and didn't want to strangle them. Good times! We killed 6 pitchers between 4 people. Actual conversation. "You know, North Korea has people volunteer to do civil service. I wish other countries were more like that!" My response? "Is it "volunteering" if the other choice is getting shot or thrown in a concentration camp?" The response, "Well, I don't agree with all of their policies..." My response? Laughter. Morons.

On the last day, the head Korean teacher asked about our nationality. It was explained that we were 3 Canadiens, 1 Englishman and 2 Americans. The lazy, fat hippie chimed in with, "But! I'm a GOOD American." My response? "What the fuck does that mean? You pay taxes? You celebrate the 4th of July? What?" Then I was told that when she hangs out with Canadien friends, they introduce her as "An American, but she doesn't act like it." I would walk out of any bar where someone said this about me. Ugh. America's Fucking Hat, eh? Assholes. I'm going to start saying, "Doug is Canadien and he totally fucking acts like it."

Either way, the kids had a fun time with me. I'll post a pic of two of the thank you cards the kids made soon enough. Adorable. I had to do songs. I did the Hello Song with the younger ones and The Beatles, Yesterday, with the older ones. Good times.

My camp starts next week. I can't wait.

We have a guy from St. Louis who has been a total piece of shit so far. First, he wants to teach my kids about burping and farting. His assigned topic is "Table Manners." When he was asked to change his lesson his response was less than cordial and he refused to make the suggested changes. Then, my principal asked for drama scripts for the camp. He wants the classes to do skits in English. This guy threw a fit. He called the request, "absurd." I had to explain what absurd meant to my co-teacher. I thought she was going to cry. Then, in an attempt to smooth things over, he engaged me in a lengthy email discussion. My point was that he's wasting more time emailing me than he would if he just did what he was asked. I won. I got him to submit a script. It was awful and way too difficult, but I got him to do it. Matt's will is like the fucking force. Everyone bends to it, eventually. We're not using his script and sent him an email to that effect. I haven't heard the response, but I can imagine that it's priceless. If its good enough I'll post it here.

Less than 3 weeks until my vacation. I NEED A BREAK.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Well, another year is essentially in the books.

The last official day of school was on Tuesday. I came in for a meeting on Wednesday(only in Korea, seriously, I just sat there and watched the clock until the other teachers stood up) and I've been off for the past two days. In full Cliff Huxtable style I am wearing a Hawaiian shirt and eating a giant sandwich. I also have Monday off, but then it's off to a 3-day summer camp at another school. Then, I have to come in for another meeting on Friday at my school. Then it's time for summer camp at my school. It's going to last 4 days and its going to be hell I'm sure.

The principal has different ideas about teaching English than, well, everyone else. None of us really want to listen to his, erm, "advice," but we have no choice. He's retiring in two months and wants this to be his, uh, "legacy." He's demanded that we not teach reading or writing. ONLY SPEAKING! He doesn't want to see pencils or books. ONLY TALKING! IN ENGLISH! Who cares if the kids actually know what they're saying. Part of me dies every time I hear him discuss his ideas for English camp.

I finally got access to the new English room at my school. It has a lot of stuff I don't need and won't use. They paid a moderate sum of cash to buy these massive electric talking posters with the worst speakers I've ever heard. Everything sounds like a subway announcement. As soon as I move in there I'm unplugging all that shit and plugging in an industrial size air conditioner. We did win our battle for desks and chairs. The room looks great and I couldn't be happier.

Last week we took a teacher's field trip to the nearby port city of Pohang. First, we went to a temple/forest preserve to relax for a few hours. I watched some of the other teachers try to catch tadpoles for about two hours while relaxing. High comedy.

Then we hit a Korean sushi restaurant. The fish was really fresh, but everything was painfully spicy. I also got a lecture from the leader of my office. Each grade has a designated "Senior Member." The subject teachers also have to elect a "Senior Member." Ours is a douche. I can't stand the guy and he can't stand me. He only speaks Korean, fine, but I wish he'd realize that I know what he's saying. I don't like it when he criticizes how I eat or what I eat and I'm not afraid to let him know about it. I realize, different culture and different country, but he needs to keep his beady fucking eyes off my plate. Either way, this time I was told not to put my hands in my pockets or blow my nose in the presence of the Principal. Thanks for the tip dickbag. Now it's my turn, don't make nasty comments about me not liking squid.

Then the beer and soju started flowing. Everyone got ripped. Everyone. One dude threw up. It was the ancient "maintence guy." I thought he was made of sterner stuff. On the busride back they broke out the karaoke machine. I'm convinced that this is actually an ancient form of torture. Seriously. Locking 50 adults on a bus and forcing them to sing badly. After an hour of that I was ready to surrender my country's national secrets, but the Principal just wanted more drinking. I saw the "Senior Member," of my office pretending to sleep. I thought this was a good idea, so I did the same thing. The Principal kicked me. Twice. Then a female teacher hit me. Twice. I'm sure I didn't keep a straight face, but they left me alone and allowed me to escape as soon as we pulled up. I needed a bathroom. Badly.

Not much else has happened. We had a bit of a miscommunication on Monday. Apparently, we had an Opening Ceremony of sorts for the English Room. No one told me beforehand, so I showed up to school in a t-shirt and jeans without shaving. So, after lunch, I sprinted home to put on proper attire. I even wore a Star Wars tie(around my head) so I knew Zwirb would approve, but my co-teacher didn't tell me when the ceremony started, so I waited. And waited. And waited. And finally she bounced into the office. "Matt! You changed your clothes!" She thought I went to the bank or something. It would have been nice to have been there and it did hurt my feelings a little, but I'll get over it. It would have probably been more of a headache than anything.

There's a dog restaurant in my neighborhood. I just found this out last week.

About fucking time. Savages.

Less than 3 weeks until my vacation. I can't wait. I need a break.