Friday, December 18, 2009

You speak Korean (?)

Last day of class this semester before Winter vacation was a designated movie day. Anything else would be beyond impossible into the utterly unthinkable range.

However, one enterprising table of girls in one class asked if they could play a game.
~ There's actually two broken down board games from the 1980's - CLUE and SCRABBLE. Upon asking I was told there wasn't enough 'budget' to get another game. What? Can't spare the 30 dollars on a learning game? No Budget? Why don't we start by NOT buying boxes of paper coffee cups and use only the ceramic ones that are already available?? hmmm..... -_- ~

To my surprise they grabbed CLUE and asked me to teach them how to play it. I was more than happy to. Taken aback in shock even.

In direct violation of Universal Laws, I am not a rabid fan of the TWILIGHT saga and having already seen the first 40 minutes six times this week... Well, any excuse was a good excuse as far as I was concerned. On top of which they would be using more English in this one class than the accumulated classes of the whole semester!! (Somehow that makes me want to cry.)

One girl was apparently appointed translator for my simplified explanation, cards were dealt, set and game.

Knowing better - not to mention not having anything better to do - I stayed and waited for the inevitable question from some unforeseen quarter to pop out and bring everything to a screeching halt.

Took longer than usual to come out of hiding, but there it was. I closely observed the appointed-translator and the dice-roller in heated exchange in Korean then helpfully jumped in:
"You can ask anybody the question. If you 'think it is Mrs. White', you don't have to ask Mrs. White player. You can ask anyone."

Appointed-translator quickly gave the resolution to the exact problem they had been wrestling over, but not before she quipped off, "You speak Korean (?)"
There really wasn't enough raise in her voice to qualify it as a question, but fortunately even if it was a question, I didn't have to answer as the game quickly got back on track again.

I am miraculously fluent in Korean!

Alas, NO.
The reality is I am extremely, painfully skilled at reading people and situations. It's something I have always been able to do and comes as both a gift and curse. Humans don't like being seen-through. They like to think that all their secrets are snuggly tucked away. The reality is though, it's all bleeding through. Everything below the surface. T_T T_T

When you are young people dismiss you as being over-sensitive or even making things up?! o.0
But when you are older...

Here, these many years in foreign lands, my 'skill' has been honed as it is basic to my very survival.
Yet at the same time, because I can read a situation so well I have all sorts of people chattering at me thinking I understand what they are saying. Hell, I've had whole conversations without really knowing what the other person was talking about although they certainly left satisfied.

Oddly enough, that doesn't create as many problems as one might think. On the other hand it creates tremendous stress to read and react to things on a spilt-second basis. And when the conversation, albiet one-sided, goes on for several minutes...
I leave completely exhausted.

It's not that I ever wanted this 'skill' or even wanted to know these things. (Some things really are better left NOT KNOWN. 知らぬが仏。) But neither is it anything I can change.

The good news is I no longer let people demean or dismiss me. I know better.

The bad news is I am still reading people like an open book.

...and that is precisely why to this day I still only wear glasses. -_-;;

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

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You teach from 9:25 today!!

was the title of today's 'mail'.
Sent to me at 9:26.

No really. Look.

[제목] : this is todays schedule. you start at 09:25!
[발신인] : 담임 이은영
[수신인] : 어학실
[수신인원] : 1명
[수신일자] : 2009-12-18 09:26

I compared what my clock was saying against the oddly empty classroom, and hurriedly replied back.

"Ok, but so the kids know that? There's no one here."

I learned from before to NOT expect any help so I quickly translated some of what looked relevant Korean emails ONLY to find out today was another test day.

Thanks for the one minute warning people.

Actually, one minute AFTER THE FACT.

This will make the third time they didn't bother to inform me of something dreadfully relevant or a major schedule change. (This is a test-centered school culture.)

Foreigners already have a HUGE disadvantage here far, far beyond the constraints of a language barrier.

But that's another gripe/warning for another time.

The point is that this oversight makes me look BAD. AGAIN.

You do NOT make mistakes here.

And this is "my" third major mistake.

Last week was finals.

Normally I proctor tests so I was prepared to do the same for this one. Even made up a little "test bag" of supplies. When I spoke to my lead teacher, she said that just like the mid-term I would not be on the schedule. Instead I would be "off".

I no longer trust anything here so I decided to come in that morning anyway to do some other work. As I received no "quick! come proctor!" message via the internal messaging system I felt rather confident in her statement. Even so, I went through the dozen or so Korean mails, looking for the ones about the final test and quickly translating what I could.

My name did NOT appear in the schedule.

So I was feeling pretty good and for some reason I can no longer remember went down to see the lead teacher.

After she walked in from her test period, some other male teacher grabbed her and started irritatingly blathering at her. Unfortunately I caught a slurred version of my name.

The resultant explanation of this exchange was delivered with a typically plastered smile - "Oh, you were supposed to proctor! You were on the list!"


Really?!? You told me I wasn't going to be on the list.Matter of fact, I went so far as to check the list and I couldn't find my name on it.

It was the FINAL, for %^$%# sake.

And for a foreigner to make a mistake (much less a woman) it is automatically assigned to the pigeon hole thought process of "foreigners = unreliable. lax. sloppy. not serious about their work. have it so f*(&*%g easy yet they can't even be counted on to do something as simple as THIS."

Admittedly, there's more than a few like that (like apparently my next door neighbor), but for those of us who came expecting to actually teach...

Like I told the lead teacher once after another 'incident' - "They (the teachers) have stress so they take it out on you. The kids have stress which they ALSO take out on you. It really seems to me that they're just looking for someone to kick around."

I so, so, sooo hate this place.

Cheers! (^_-)-☆

Thanks again for stopping into my little corner of the 'net, and Happy Browsing!!

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