Formspring Friday.

I recently read the blog you wrote about your gay students, how much of a problem would you say that is? Are there any places at all who properly that take in gay teens? I will be going to South Korea as a student next year and the issue struck a bit of c

I honestly don't know much about this. I only know what I see. But I have started to think about it more since that whole incident went down. I'm sure to be doing a little research on this in the next few months, but I don't know that it will be one of the things that's very easy for a foreigner to find out. I'll run it past the S.O. and see what he knows/what he can find in Korean as well. If I find anything out, I'll be sure to pass it along.

Hi! I'll be moving to Korea to teach and I was wondering: What is some of the more useful Korean teaching/office vocabulary you regularly use?

You really shouldn't be using too much Korean. The idea is that the students have to learn how to communicate with you in English. That having been said, knowing a few choice words for the sake of having an idea what's going on is a good idea.

As far as teaching goes, it's a good idea to sit down with your co-teacher before the first class and make a list of phrases and commands the students are going to need to recognize in English. Be quiet. Sit down. Open your books. Work with a partner. Eyes to the front of the room. Things like that. You're not going to really have the state of mind to say these things in Korean in the middle of a lecture, and you're going to need the students to learn how to respond to them in English. Once they know what it all means in Korean, they should adjust to hearing and responding to it in English easily enough.

Now, for what you will want to know.... this situation is a perfect example of why I've made an effort to familiarize myself with as many bad words in Korean as possible. Because they will try to pull this shit. And you don't need to know everything. Just responding to one or two bad words will give them the idea that they really have no way of knowing what you do and do not understand, so they'd better be careful. It needs to click for them that Korean is not a top secret code that only people with Korean blood can ever have hope of deciphering -- that you are capable of learning and understanding it as well. Making Out in Korean is a great resource for this -- it's where I picked up "보지".

All of that having been said, the most powerful word I've learned in Korea, as a female teacher working at an all-boys middle school, by far has been 변태 (byeon-tae -- pervert). That lone word has helped me to handle so many situations that I don't even know where to start.

you mentioned how foreign guys give the rarer combination of korean men and women odd looks or grief at times. has it gotten worse or better?

Better. Definitely better. The attitudes amongst and between foreigners in general have gotten significantly better since I've been here. And, basically, it seems like there are just more women around in general now. Most of the foreign guys I used to run into before didn't really mean any harm -- it just had never occurred to them that I might be open to dating Korean guys. They had spent a lot of time on Dave's ESL cafe or among other, older male foreigners hearing ream after ream of accounts of how foreign women do. not. date. Korean. men. And how Korean men don't date foreign women. They'd been programmed. And I was the only foreign woman in Korea they knew. It didn't matter that I was dating Korean men -- I was 100% of the foreign female population with which they were personally acquainted, but I was still only one woman. Therefore, I was still just an exception.

Now, there are way too many foreign female/Korean male couples around to ignore. And too many women around to ignore. And, with the vocal input of women's own accounts of things, a lot of the ignorance has simply vanished. It helps that the expat community here in Korea is kind of on a constant restarting cycle. One year from now, the Korean expat scene will look completely different than it does now. Because, one year from now, most of the expats will be completely different people.

Do you think there are any pro'sto teaching in lesser populated cities?

I mean, Incheon is not the boonies, but it is certainly not Seoul. My students have shit English -- they just do. But they also have a lot more freedom than Seoul students, and aren't as ground down by rigorous daily routines. If you work in the real country (which I don't have any personal experience with), you may have much smaller class sizes. Smaller schools in general. Probably closer to both your coworkers and your students. Basically, I think, probably any of the advantages you can think of to living and working in a small town in your home country would pretty much be the same. Same with the disadvantages -- the smaller the town, the more odd you are going to be as a foreigner. Sometimes that will be a good thing, sometimes bad.

Hey, any idea what is going on with ATEK? And what EXACTLY is ATEK? - VancouverCindy

I really don't have the knowledge to talk about this at the moment. There is a fucking shit storm going on at the moment, that much is clear. But I haven't sorted through all of it yet. Or even a fraction of it. If or when I somehow get involved or start to form any kind of educated opinion, I will let you all know. But for now it would probably be best just to keep your eyes on Roboseyo, because he knows a hell of a lot more about it than I do.

What about your past or character makes you more open-minded vs the average person? Open-minded questioner here. Was asking because you view krn society bereft of the many stereotypes and 'otherness' i have seen other ppl view my culture (gyopo here

You know, it would be so easy to big myself up here, but I really thought about this question for a long time, and the truth is.... I don't really know.

The reason why I don't know is because it has always confused me the way other people have gone at this whole thing. And many other things, like how the overwhelmingly white student population at my Brooklyn university reacted to the black communities we were surrounded by. I don't really understand it. To me, it seems like common sense to a. consider other people to be people and b. realize when you don't understand something and just not talk about it until you do. Or, at the very least, admit that you don't.

I'm not perfect. I've made my mistakes. I'm still making them. But it doesn't seem that complicated to me.

If I had to give an answer at this point, I would say that it's probably the result of a really weird combination of ignorance and awareness. Like I said in the last round of questions, I grew up surrounded by a lot of immigrant families. And my family did live in the projects for some time, where we were literally the only white family. To me, it was hard for me to separate myself from these groups, because, as far as I could see, I was a part of them. I was white. My neighbors were Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Black, etc. But we all lived in the same damn place, didn't we? It honestly didn't occur to me for a long time that I might be somehow fundamentally different. I know that sounds fucking stupid, but it's true. I didn't grow up separated out and having my parents tell me that I should think of myself as the same as "all people". I grew up actually believing it.

I had more in common with my black neighbors than I did with the blonde, white head cheerleader at school -- that was for sure. And that is still the group I have the most trouble relating to. Because I don't identify with it at all. Even my close groups of school friends, who almost always ended up being from more well-to-do families, were still oddly mixed. They lived in the "rich" neighborhood, but they were Mexican, black, a whole variety of East Asian, Indian, any combination thereof, and with a bizarrely high percentage of gay in there, as well.

When I got to university was when the "awareness" part started. But it probably only started because of my background. I probably took more cultural studies courses, in the end, than I did writing courses (my major). Feminism, race relations, globalization, immigrant studies, international machinery of war, the development of American photography in relation to the African American community, gender binaries within the structure of languages..... you fucking name it. I started to find that there were words and expressions and theories for the things that I had seen, felt and tried to think before. That this wasn't just my confusion and inability to relate to the way that other people thought about things, but that there were a whole series of studies created by important people that agreed with me, and which could explain why I felt the way that I did. I also started to understand how and why I wasn't exactly the same as my black neighbors. But I don't think I would have been able to apply any of that at all if it weren't for the place where I started. So it's not really down to me.

Nothing to really ask, but just wanted to say I find your blog really helpful. I live over in Japan and it's interesting hearing all the similarities between the two in education. I'm also from Texas (Austin-area) so your blog especially relatable.

Always nice to hear from a fellow Texan. I'm only just start to explore the Japanese expat blogging world. You all have got some nice stuff over there.

Hey. I was just wondering how IDD is doing. Is she feeling better these days? - Concerned

She's doing alright -- hanging in there. She's a fucking soldier, that one.

Is Busan racist?

No. And he's not homophobic, either.

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