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17 February 2005
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KLB - The Meeting

Today was pretty funny. I got to work at the usual time: 12:55, toting a coffee latte in one hand. Bonnie was waiting for me, but it was time to start class. I planned it that way actually. The kids swarmed me as usual when I arrived. I got things in order and taught a great lesson. The kids were on fire, answering all the questions so eagerly. About 30 minutes later Bonnie asked Cathy to take over so I could meet with her. This is where it gets funny.

Basically she started kissing my ass. She said she was "overwhelmed" by the progress the kids have made. She also said she read my letter and that she is sorry for everything. "I like you. You're a good person and you have a great personality. I see now how much the I kids love you. I gave the wrong impression. Everything is fine..." blah blah blah...

Then it came: an offer to either stay at the school as is, or another offer - a full-time job working for the Korean Board of Education in Seoul starting in early March. What the hell? I couldn't believe it. I expected this terrible, awkward meeting, perhaps ending with me storming off the school grounds in a rage - but here she was complimenting me, urging me to stay or take a higher paying job.

The pay is fantastic, but it's kind of a bizarre job. The schedule is 9:00 - 3:00. In the morning I would report to a different elementary school every day and teach the same lesson all week. An hour for lunch, then I'd go back to the office and teach Korean teachers for two hours in the afternoon. All I can think of is what another ridiculous program that's destined to fail. I mean, how ineffective a system is that? Instead of just spending the money to get a foreign teacher in every school, they're obviously looking to save funds by having one teacher go to all the schools in a district. Talk about spreading your resources thin! They certainly can't expect the kids to learn much from that - and if they do, that's a lot of pressure on the teacher.

Then, to top it off, that same super-hero teacher has to teach loads of teachers from the district too - most of whom probably just want to go home for the day not sit there with a foreigner for two hours.

In fact, because it's a new program, the contract is only for a 6 month probationary period with an option to renew at the end.

Bonnie says wants me there because I have a degree in English Education, a requirement. As I said, the pay is great: 2,800,000 won/month (about $2700, or $2600 clear after taxes!). Housing is not included though, but that's still good pay. There are several problems of course:

1. I'd have to move to Seoul by myself as Julie works near here.

2. Teaching 20-30 Korean teachers two hours/day sounds like hell - but I'm not sure. Maybe it would be fun, maybe not. I taught a large class of adults before at Samsung in Ulsan and it was pretty fun. They liked to take me out all gthe time. I don't know how Koreans can drink so much and get up for work at 7:00 - it's amazing. I guess that wouldn't happen so much with teachers. They're probably mostly women anyway. Women don't usually get smashed here with the "one shot" ritual like men. Anyway, this class isn't the biggest worry.

3. I'd be working for the government, meaning if I screw up I may as well forget teaching in Korea again.

4. Dealing with 15 other teachers every week (since I'd be teaching 3 different classes at 5 different schools) - I forsee some problems with that.

5. (This is so typically Korean) I have to make the decision by "early" tomorrow morning.

Problems 1 and 5 are the big ones, of course. I hate having to make a decision so quickly - but in Korea it's either do it fast or lose out to the next guy. That's damn good pay for a job that finishes at 3:00. Too bad it's all the way on the other side of the city...ugh!


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