Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Happy Racism

We were dragged into the chairperson's office in the middle of our ONE real break between classes (a whopping ten minutes) to be incoherently informed that two teachers here had come into contact with some people diagnosed with SI and were forthwith confined to home for the next seven days.

The whole time I'm thinking SI? SI? ...SI? and throwing questioning looks at the towering 'A' next to me - Can you make out any of this?

I finally figured out he was meaning swine influenza. That might seem obvious to you, gentle reader, but no real English speaker here uses that phrase so between my overwhelming disinterest and his broken English, I didn't catch on right away.

But that wasn't the even best part.
That came in the form of a semi-coherent, delusional YET stringent warning -- You need to keep two meters between you and the other teachers. Everyone. Kids. And wash hands. (mimic hand-washing here.)

I just wanted to walk out then and there.

I had suspected the man knew NOTHING about what went on in his school, particularly the classrooms, from early on.
Like from week one.
But this utterly confirmed it.

At best you are two feet from the little snots and that's when you're not constantly crouching down to try to figure out what they're saying or being grabbed and petted. (My nails are a big hit.) Same goes for the teacher's office -- at best two feet from every other person in ALL directions.

And washing hands?
Well, I know I do. But I also know that the kids DON'T. Many times they don't even flush the toilet, they are in such a rush to get back to class. (Although what do you really expect when you give 100 students 5 minutes to use six bathroom stalls?)

So we had our marching orders - stay back! and stay clean!! - and were summarily dismissed to face the angry, unclean hordes.

We had liquid soap in the bathroom now.
I felt better already.

But, no, wait! It gets even better!

I finally got some coherent information about the whole situation from the KBS Japanese broadcast. Apparently there was an overnight conference for English teachers - both foreign and Korean. Fifteen unspecified participants tested positive for swine flu. The foreigners were staying at the unspecified lodging together but they also had "free time". And in this free time they Went Out Into the Public.
So, the news goes on to report, if you came into contact with the FOREIGNERS during their outings you may be infected too!!

Beware the White People!

They obviously don't say that straight out but neither do they remind you that there were both Korean Nationals together with the foreigners at the conference in closed quarters for hours on end. They are immune, I guess, but their very Koreaness? After all, it's just naturally understood that it's the foreigners that spread disease in this country. It certainly couldn't be the Korean habit of not washing hands or dishes thoroughly, nor the ages old tradition of everyone eating off the same plate. That was quaint about 200 years ago, but it the world of global epidemics, it's long past time to reserve that for an "at home" tradition.

So, we all had our marching orders now:

Screw the threat of impending war!

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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