Breakdowns + Media Posts

Hiya–
Had a bit of a rough day today.  I can tell it’s been kind of a long time coming, but I had a bit of a homesickness//I-HATE-THIS-SO-MUCH kind of breakdown.
Our head-teacher is well…an interesting type of person.  Again, she’s the one that would rather us lie to the parents to save face.  Actually, I’m learning quickly that A LOT of Korea (granted, not everyone is like that) is about saving face.  Saving the reputation and making things look all cheery and wonderful.  Even if it’s not.
Not sure if I updated on the little comment book situation, but to recap–we have little comment books for each kindergartener that float back and forth between their teachers and the parents.  Good idea in theory, because the parents can be informed of what their kid is doing in class.
Anyway, one of my girls was having a hard time paying attention in class…which is fine and completely understandable…because she’s like 5 years old (western age) and it’s kindergarten…whatever.  We’re working on it.
Anyway, her mom had asked me directly (in English) how her daughter was doing in class and with the other students because she wasn’t speaking English at home.  I proceeded to use the OREO (taught that in school..heh) method (also what they use–not called OREO though) to tell the mom.  The only thing that wasn’t strictly positive in the whole entry was when I said “______ can be easily distracted in class, but she’s a very friendly and energetic young girl, and we’re working on paying attention in class.”
Which…TO ME…sound fine.  It’s constructive and tells about what’s holding her back.  The rest just said that she was young and that this all takes time and that we’re working together on also building her confidence.
Anyway-I was told to white-out that bit and write a bit of fluff about how wonderful she was.
Teacher said she “didn’t have time to hand back the books to the parents, so not to worry”–on Tuesday.  Then, today, when I was given her book back, I check to see what they had done about the white-out bit in the book….AND…they gave her a completely new book.  The old one is nowhere to be seen..completely new book and not a word about it.

YEAH.  I know.

Anyway, there’s that and just…crap from school mostly and I just lost it.  I could feel it sort of coming through most of the morning…a sort of heaviness in my chest and it felt harder to breathe.  I just kept telling myself to fight it back…don’t cry…it’s ok…it’s just a cultural thing…just focus on the class.
Lunch time came and I left with the other foreigners and we were talking about work as we left the building (we’re on an upper floor) and I just completely lost it.  Right there in the middle of the hallway leading out of the building.  The other two teachers both gave me a giant group hug and sympathized with me and gave plenty of kind and supportive words.
The homesickness just hits hard and fast, completely when you least expect it.
That’s one of the best, BEST parts about working with other foreigners.  You’re like a tight little family away from your own family.  They know exactly what I’m going through…because they’ve been there.  One of them just went through it this past winter.  It’s all part of the process, and you learn to adapt and adjust, and you help eachother along in the process.  Celebrating during the best of times and picking eachother up and supporting eachother when times get rough.
I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.  But, it’s one of those unspoken truths around here.  We’re all here for eachother.  And it’s wonderful.
As nice as it is to communicate pretty frequent contact with my family…it feels as if there’s a glass wall there.  I can see them and hear about what’s going on, but I can’t actually feel or be present in it all.  And that can be very hard.  I’m enjoying myself here though.  I’ve met great people and the money is fantastic.  And I get to travel.  It’s great.  I love, LOVE my kids and teaching…it’s just the politics of it all.

One of my co-teachers was talking with me during lunch today and she really wanted to stress to me that she thinks I’m fantastic with the kids and at teaching because I’m enthusiastic and “have the right personality for working with kids”, and she said she doesn’t want this experience (because all the schools are different…some are worse and some are better.  It’s very hit and miss) to ruin my outlook on becoming a teacher.
Look out for Number One.  (Me).
You are your first priority.
Don’t let this get to you, because it can, and they don’t give a damn if it does.  (Again, not all Koreans are like this…but as the foreigner…and as a female, you’re pretty much considered a second-class citizen.)
She also said that she thinks that there’s a bigger reason for as to why we were “chosen” to come here.  She thinks that we’re acting a bit as ambassadors and can help shape the next generation of citizens here…so that they can be prepared for living with diversity and how to treat other people.  Treat them to show respect and to have integrity so that in the future, they’ll have a chance to change the way things are.

Anyway, after lunch, I went to Zara (:-D) and did some retail therapy.  One of the few times in my life I’ve been able to do that, ha.  If you’re living check to check, retail therapy isn’t an option, unless you don’t want to eat that week.
Also, I didn’t have a lot of time because it was only a lunch break, so when I say I did some “retail therapy”, I mean that I bought 1 shirt.  haha 🙂
I also use the Jango.com app for music on my phone and took out my anger and frustration on the pavement as I walked the 15 minutes to the store and then back again.  I felt refreshed when I got back, and then finished off my day.
I was tired at the end of the day, but not feeling nearly as terrible as I did at lunch.  (BTW, I’m not sick anymore, in  case you were curious.)

THEN…I went back to my apartment and saw I had a note on the door about having a package downstairs.  (They leave a note if you’re not there and then leave it with security for you to pick up).
😀 😀 😀
I got a surprise care package from my grandma…full of Easter goodies and some pretty (fake :-P) flowers.  What amazing timing.  Lots of Easter candy and a wonderful card that just made me smile from ear to ear.
Also, the envelope said “Stacey Teacher” on the front 🙂  ie: my name at school.–It’s not Miss Stacey or anything similar.  Just your first name and “Teacher” after that.  Or just “TEACHERRRRRRRRRR!!!”
heh.  I like the first one better. 🙂

Anyway, it’s been a roller coaster of a day, and it’s time for bed.

TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (x4000)
Fun weekend planned.  More on that later.  Goodnight!!
And thank you for the care package Grandma!!! Love you!!! Thank you! Thank you!!!!! 🙂

Care Package pics and pics from my “shopping spree” 🙂 haha.

Classroom footage–working on our ABCs during Phonics Class on 4.11.12
http://youtu.be/igugbn59r-w

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2 thoughts on “Breakdowns + Media Posts

  1. I guess working at a Hagwon I too should expect to be dealing with managers like that. Who would want me to sugarcoat student evaluations to appease the parents. It’s gonna be tough because I am big on honesty too. Man I am glad that you have a great support system. Keep on truck’n Stacey 🙂

    • ^Take everything that I post with a grain of salt. Some schools are better and some are worse.
      This is just one experience out of all of the hagwons that are here. (You have like 5 at every corner).

      BEFORE YOU AGREE to anything, get an email address or two from current foreign teachers at the school and ask them your questions. Don’t sign until you’re happy with what you’ve found.

      You can still have an amazing experience…don’t let something like this dampen your spirits and enthusiasm. 🙂

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