10.27.2010

More exercises in workplace jeong.

You know what's great? Hwaeshik is great. I can't believe how much I used to loathe these dinners. But now that all the teachers are comfortable with me, and I can hold my own in conversation, it's a totally different story. The VP was mad impressed, and threatened to give me a listening test later in the evening, but the new P, being the kind of cock that he is, flipped that shit on him and informed him that at his old school, the VP could speak fluent English and challenged ours to do so in front of all the other teachers outside the restaurant. Jerk-off. Just when the VP was finally getting comfortable with directly addressing me (in Korean), this guy goes and puts him back in his place. After he addressed me in Korean with a question (granted, a simple one) in front of all the teachers when I walked out. My confident (correct) answer in Korean put an end to that, so he turned on the VP instead.

I'm just kidding. I don't think his intentions were bad, but the other teachers despise him so much that he's kind of become a super villian in my mind. I'm sure he was just fucking around. But no one likes him. And Co even made us sit in the car in the parking lot for nearly ten minutes just to be sure his table was full so we wouldn't have to sit at it. Which turned out to be a good idea, because his table was full of teachers who looked like they wanted to kill themselves, as they spent the entire dinner having to sit quietly and listen to him lecture. After already having come out of an hour long meeting with him lecturing just before. Poor other teachers. Our table was having a great time, and the VP pointedly loitered outside long enough to be seated with us.

Two of the co-teachers I've been on just kind of generally distant-but-friendly terms with made big attempts to be more personal today, which is always nice, especially given that a lot of my co's will change schools at the end of term. One female instructor who is apparently notoriously distant with all the other English teachers sent me a cool message out of the blue complimenting my outfit, saying I'm looking prettier these days and asking if I have a "sweet hearter". Which was lovely. I think it's because I randomly asked her if she had kids yesterday, which may be the first personal interest anyone has shown in her directly. The relationship between the regular teachers and the instructors is weird, but I'm in an in-between position, because I teach with both.

The other was my younger male co-teacher, who I like just on merit of how the students respond to him. We haven't had any one-on-one time together, but the students have quickly adjusted to him, and are really comfortable asking him for help and joking around with him. They also shut the fuck up when he tells them to. All hallmarks of a good teacher. I don't know how to describe how things were different with him in a way that will make sense, outside of the context of the Korean work environment, but, even though he got stuck at the doomed principal's table, he was directly behind me and made several efforts to shoot me looks. Which is a big difference from the usual eye contact avoidance that is prominent all around, especially between male and female teachers. Then, when we were standing up to go out, he made a bit of smalltalk and waited for me to put my shoes on, to walk out together. I think he was working up to offering me a ride, but the restaurant was literally just behind my house. I made sure to tell him goodbye directly, and he was watching for it.

It's weird how difficult it can be in a daily work situation to break down some of the boundaries that keep comfortable interaction from being possible, especially as the foreign teacher. I've become much, much closer with other subject teachers than I am with some of my own co-teachers, just because they've had longer to get to know me, and they know they can just freely speak Korean, and I'll deal with it, one way or another. The English teachers feel pressure (obviously) to interact in English, which can put them off, especially in front of the other English teachers who are more fluent, or when the VP and P are around to watch it.

This is why the end of the year teachers' trip, which is coming up, is important. It's going to be especially important this year, because my P has just changed, my VP is about to change, and a lot of my co-teachers are on their way out. I'm losing a lot of allies, which, even though I've been at the school for twoyears, could make it like being at a brand new school. The trouble is, this year the trip is on December 30th, and we won't get back until late on New Year's Eve. I really don't want to spend my New Year's Eve on a fucking noraebang bus, but if it's going to help me to bond with some of the co's who are sticking around, I may have to suck it up. I have until tomorrow to decide, so I need to find out who all is going and who's giving it a pass.

It all makes me really hesitate to start over in a new country. Even if I have to move to a new school in Korea, it won't be the same as starting from square one, because I'm no longer a fucking FOB without a clue. It would be frustrating at first, having everyone assume I don't know what's going on around me, but it wouldn't take them long to cotton on. Versus going back to being an actual FOB and not actually having a clue. I know I could sort it out in time, but I can't help but feel like I'm getting a little old for Square 1. Of course, that's why I need to do it now, if I'm going to.

2 comments:

chucky said...

Hi There

I am wondering why you have no contact address? How are readers meant to ask you questions? Thanks

I'm no Picasso said...

Hi there. There's a contact address in my profile (imnopicasso@gmail.com) and also a big box there on the sidebar at the very top that says "Ask me anything". And you can. Just make sure it's under about 50 words if you're going to put it there, instead of in an email. Ask away!