Last night, after a brief stop-in at a jazz bar (completely empty, save for the bartendress and two ajusshi playing Go Stop), we headed back to the scene of the crime, which (whether we like it or not) is quickly becoming our regular. After we were seated, it didn't take long for me to spot a guy from NYE who's been sending me texts I haven't been answering. I used Mike's head for cover most of the night. At least I think he's the guy behind the texts. Sent the first one only four hours after I left the bar. He's not after me (thank fuck) -- he's American, and had latched onto one of my adult students I happened to run into at the bar. I think he's just trying to get her number off me, but she's 45 and married with kids, and on top of that, I don't have her number.
And he also told me that I have ass and I should use it while we were dancing. Which is nice in sentiment I guess, but not really an overall suggestion to me of compatible personality types.
I also forgot to mention that on one of the rare occasions Wednesday night when I was dancing with only one guy instead of a group, he was (for some reason) attempting to make conversation over the music, but it was getting awkward. Compelled to at least try to return the gesture, I pulled his ear down to my mouth and shouted, "How old are you?"
This apparently sounded like, "Can I come home with you?" At least I hope it did, because otherwise his response of, "You come home with me?" was even more bizarre.
Uh. Ahniyo. That is not what I said.
In other (more valid) news, this has been circulating a fair bit around the EFL expat crowd.
Lee Young-chan, an education Ministry official in charge of native teachers said it was not necessary to renew every contract. ``They are neither regular teachers nor lecturers who can conduct classes independently. They are `assistant teachers,' hence their teaching experience doesn't matter much,'' he said. ``Rather, it's better for students to have more new teachers so that they can meet various kinds of foreigners,'' he added.
Tosser. First of all, Mr. Lee Young-chan seems to be completely unaware of how many of his native teachers are absolutely conducting classes independently, whether they should be or not. Assistant, my ass. Also, if you are going to argue that experience doesn't matter and the important thing is exposure to "various kinds of foreigners", then why call us teachers at all? Why even bring English into it?
I dunno. There are lots of things I can say in response to that article, but I don't know if I can be bothered. What I will say is that, regardless of what a job entails, experience is always an advantage, and while native teachers are essentially useless at this point in the Korean public education system, it doesn't have to be that way. It will continue to be, however, for as long as they'd rather keep bringing in new blood, instead of valuing and compensating veterans who go the extra mile to become certified or pursue education degrees.
I could see myself sticking around here for quite a while and maybe even pursuing a masters at some point in the field, and maybe I will, for myself. But there isn't much motivation to do so when you know you're always under one hell of a glass ceiling, and you'll never be taken seriously, no matter how much effort you put into bettering your professional credentials. I can move up two or three pay brackets, but that's it. And my actual job situation will always remain the same. So, really, what's the point?
Some EFLers like to argue (for some reason) that we've been brought in to help change and adapt the system -- that it's a cooperative effort between NETs and KETs to develop a cohesive English education system here. That'd be really fantastic if that were true, but I haven't seen much evidence of it. I've been made very well aware of my position at my school, and it is not one of a developmental maverick in the field of EFL education, I'll tell you that.
Today we're supposed to hit Itaewon to pick up some English comic books for the boys, and I also want to try to pick up a new pair of boots while we're there. My Docs have served me well over the years, but they're too big and heavy for walking long distances. And, since the return to Converse (which are a third of the price of other shoes here), I need something that will do in the snow.
Then we might swing over to Hongdae (depending on how we feel -- I really don't like Itaewon, or the long and complicated subway ride it takes to get there) and try to find American Apparel. I really, really despise what that company has become. Just a few short years ago, it was a valid resource for non-sweatshop labor basics. Now it's all about strung-out anorexic women posing naked. Apparently. Just another brand riding its own flaming horse to glory. But whatever. At least you still know their shit is guilt-free. And I'm in desperate need of new t shirts, even if they do cost 40,000 won.
A little plug for Nick and Lia Young, right quick. It's a tough-shit situation here for expats when it comes to booking flights. Most of the discount sites won't take orders from out of the States, or require you to have an in-country credit card (which we can't have), and there are various complications with ARC id numbers (which are fundamentally different from SK citizen id numbers, which causes bugs in the system with anything you try to do online) etc, etc, etc. Basically, it's an unholy nightmare trying to book a decently priced flight in this country as an alien resident. Especially if you don't speak (read) Korean. You've got to pay in dollars (which still sucks at the moment, although it's getting better) and pay to wire money to an account back home. Then you have to find a website that will accept your reservation from outside the country. There might be a better way around this, but I haven't found it yet.
Anyway, Nick and Lia Young own a little cafe in Bucheon (which I have yet to visit but will soon), and they've set up a system to help foreigners do all things internet shopping related in country. All I had to do was send them an email with the dates I wanted for my flight to Paris (which, for some reason is cheaper than all of SE Asia, so I guess that's where I'll go) and, like magic, it's sorted. Nick even informed me that I should make a reservation, but wait to pay, because he hears fuel surcharges are more than likely going to go down significantly over the next few weeks.
They seem to have a genuine interest in helping with the foreigner situation here, and also with helping to create an environment where Koreans and foreigners can meet on equal grounds. So anyway, that's that. I guess I'm going to Paris after all.
Off now to shower and get ready. I've got a hell of a lot to do this weekend. And Monday, the madness officially begins.