Attention PS teachers in SK: Apparently, we're not allowed to leave the country.
Or, if we leave the country, we can't come back.
Or, if we leave the country, we have to let the education office know.
Or, we're not allowed to leave the country.
So goes the process of trying to get actual information out of a Korean bureaucratic institution. We're saying no, but we don't know how to say no, so we'll say no, maybe, yes and then no. You're not Korean. You don't understand that when you hear no, you're not supposed to ask anymore questions. Don't make us say no twice. You will only end up completely confused as to what the fuck is actually going on.
C and I just had this conversation last night: He said he couldn't believe I was a shy person, because I seem confident and comfortable and I am not afraid to express my opinions. I said the first two were well-perfected acting skills, and that his third reason simply puzzled me. He said most Koreans who are "shy" will not express their opinions, especially when they conflict with others. I explained that, even if I am feeling particularly uncomfortable and nervous at a social gathering, if the conversation takes a turn toward something I feel strongly about, particularly from the opposite point of view, I will have no choice but to speak up. Being shy and being afraid to express your opinions are not the same thing to me. I may sit in total silence for the entire duration of an evening, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, speak a singular strongly worded sentence in a clear, loud voice. If I have to.
Such was the case with this announcement at the meeting. I don't make a scene of myself at these events, but as soon as this subject came up, and it became clear what they were telling, or trying to tell, us, my hand shot straight up. What about Korean teachers?
Apparently they're under the travel ban (which is not a travel ban, but a request that you don't have the choice of not granting) as well.
It's the swine flu, of course.
When discussing my confusion about how forbidden we actually are to travel abroad with Coteacher after, she said simply, "It's a nice way of saying 'no'".
Well. Maybe someone should explain to your representatives to native teachers that in English, in English speaking cultures, the polite way of saying 'no' is to say, "I'm sorry, but no." Not, "Well, maybe...."
Of course, we're not pleased with this. We can only take our contracted 14 days vacation time during two months out of the year -- one of those months is coming up in the middle of July. Nobody but nobody wants to go to fucking Jeju-do on their vacation. I tried, in the nicest way I could, to explain to Coteacher what a riot the education office is going to have on their hands -- "When we feel like we're being told we cannot do something that we feel we have the inalienable right to do, we get quite upset, regardless of circumstance."
She said Koreans are the same. And then proceeded to explain how the Korean teachers had already forfeited their winter vacations abroad, because, as civil servants, they should be thinking about the Korean economy.
I think we are having some miscommunication.
You may not have been happy about that. I understand that part with Koreans and Westerners is the same. The difference is that when Westerners are told to do something they think is unfair, generally they won't do it. Even if the boss tells them to.
It's another classic example of the SK educational system being held against the ropes by the native teachers. They already cannot allow the new batch of teachers, who are due in early June, into the country, many of whom I can imagine have just said, fuck it then, and started looking for work in other countries. I don't know if they realize that if they forbid the current native teachers to return to the country if they take their summer vacation, many will view that as a violation of contract (on the employer's part) and simply will not return.
In other news, nuclear bombs. Yay!