Friday, May 13, 2011

Big Things Happening

Wow! Reading a little bit of my last post made me realize I should probably update more often. So many things have happened since I last posted, its crazy!!! So the guy I talked about, Glen, and I dated for a few weeks before we decided it wouldn't work. We still hang out a bit, but our schedules are so different it's difficult to figure something out.

I did end up quitting the gym near Hannam. It wasn't solely because of the stripe testing. I quit before the test. It was a big combination of things. It was too far from home, it was stressful and people were being rude. I found a gym closer to my house that I started in April. Its in Dunsan Dong. Jiu Jitsu starts later, and its so close to my house that I go home before going to the gym everyday. It's nice being able to unwind a little before working out so I am able to enjoy my workout a little more. I am not quite as stressed or burned out from the gym anymore. Plus, the environment at this gym seems to be a little more relaxed. So its nice.

Now on to current events...hahaha. My schedule at school lately has been pretty nice. One of my afternoon classes got canceled so now I only have two afternoon classes, and the vice principal arranged my schedule so that I can go home early everyday. On the other hand, I do have to sub for the other teachers quite a bit. Every teacher we have found to replace the Korean teachers that quit have decided that they cannot work with children and quit too. I really hate it for the students because they keep seeing new teachers and new teachers. Its not that big of a deal for me to cover the classes, but the students are the ones that are hurt by this. They often ask me why there are so many new teachers, and I don't think I can explain or should explain whats happening. On top of that one of the private schools nearby shut down unexpectedly (I'll explain more later) and so we have a ton of new students. We have a lot of students that want to enroll in our kindergarten classes, but none that want to enroll in our afternoon classes. Director Kim said that if we had to open new classes in the afternoon as well as in the morning he would have hired another foreign teacher, but that is not the case. We have to open two new classes only in the morning. So now we need another Korean teacher. I do not have any breaks in the morning so I do not have to take on the class, but two of the other foreign teachers do. Now all of the foreign teachers have a full schedule with no breaks except me. At the beginning, I had one of the worst if not the worst schedules, but I got used to it and everything was fine. Then, one of my afternoon classes got canceled and now I have the best schedule. Plus, in the very beginning none of my students spoke any English, and we weren't using books. So it took a lot of energy to teach every single one of my classes. Now, the students know more, and we can start using books which makes teaching quite a bit easier. I really enjoy my job now, and I love my students. Sunday is Teacher Appreciation so we got lots of presents from the students. A lot of students gave us lotions and flowers. One of my classes gave me a pot of flowers and 100,000 won bank gift card to use anywhere. That's always a nice gift.

Now about the private school that closed. As an English Teacher in Korea, you have to be very careful about the places that you work. English is very important in Korea so private schools can make a lot of money if they are good. However, not a lot of private schools make it big. They often run out of money and have to shut down. In most of these cases, none of the teachers receive their last paychecks, and the foreign teachers are left in Korea with no plane ticket home. However, sometimes there are rare cases where the school is successful, and they still shut down unexpectedly. That is what happened this week. One of the largest private schools in Daejeon shut down unexpectedly. I am not fully aware of all the details, even though one of my friends told me most of it. The school had a lot of teachers and a lot of students. Especially for a private school. I cannot be one hundred percent sure if the school had money problems or if the owner just wanted to keep the money for himself. Here is what I have heard. The foreign teachers there often complained that they didn't get their paychecks on time. I heard it from several of the teachers as early as last summer. When the school shut down on Wednesday, the teachers were told that they would not receive their last paycheck, their severance pay, or their plane ticket home. The landlords, however, would be sympathetic to their cases and allow them to live in their apartments for six months even though the bills for the apartments had not been paid either. The Korean teachers did not receive their paychecks either and are out thousands of dollars in wages and bonuses. The teachers at the school said that the director took the tuition money from the students and moved to New Zealand without giving any of the teachers their final pay. The teachers have worked for a month without pay. As I stated before, private schools shut down all of the time so it is no surprise that one shut down now. What is surprising is that such a large, reputable school closed down. To kind of give you some idea how big this school is (I can't be positive how many students there were) my school has 4 foreign teachers and maybe 200 students. At one point, this school had 20 foreign teachers. If the school has a similar student-teacher ratio that would mean there would be about 1000 students. Many of the parents immediately called other schools to enroll their students. Even though they paid one month's tuition already, they are willing to pay that tuition again to enroll their student in another school immediately. They don't want their child to miss one day of learning English, and these kids are between the ages of 5-15! Now back to the teachers as I said before I'm not sure how many foreign teachers there were when it closed but at one point there was 20. If that's still the case, 20 foreigners are stuck in Korea with no job, no money, and no way home. When a small school closes, its sad, but its not quite as devastating because it doesn't effect as many people. There are maybe one or two foreigners that work there, and maybe 100 students attend the school. This school's closing has effected most of the private schools in this area of Daejeon. I apologize if my details are not accurate; I have written what I have heard. If you know more information and can clarify things a bit more, please feel free to comment and correct things. I only wanted to share this event so that other foreigners that are interested in teaching in Korea are aware of things that happen here and can take caution. I didn't mention any names because even the news kept the identity of the school a secret.

If something like this happens at Wonderland, I do not want anyone to worry about me. I will be fine. Even though it would suck that I didn't get paid. It wouldn't be horrible for me. I would probably find another job here in Daejeon. Even if I wanted to go home, I do have some emergency money saved up. Also, my boss called an emergency meeting on Friday to assure all of the foreign teachers that nothing like that would ever happen at Wonderland, and that he will do everything he can to protect us as foreigners in Korea.

I guess that's all I have for now. I will try to do better about updating more often.

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