Friday, August 1, 2014

The week in review: 7/28/14 - 8/1/14

Monday, July 28
My co-teacher stayed for the day today (I wonder if each teacher has an assigned day to be at school or something during vacation), but she worked back at my computer while I taught, so it was excellent. She just came out to take a few pictures during each class, and took attendance/called missing students' parents at the start, so I didn't feel like I was being watched.

I thought she would probably take me to lunch today, but I picked up a salad from Paris Baguette in the morning just in case. She did take me to lunch - we went to the cafeteria at the university. It was a delicious meal: fried kimchi rice with egg, and sides of salad, fish, potatoes, something else, and soup. All for just 5,000 KRW (under $5). Sooo yummy. She said she'd be back at school next Monday, and that I should remind each attendance taking teacher to "send the text message".

Tuesday, July 29
The teacher checking attendance today is the third grade teacher who was stationed at a U.S. army base when he did his two years of military service way back when, so his English is the best in the school, I'd say. I reminded him about the text message near the end of the first class, still not sure entirely what it entailed. (From context, I think they're supposed to text all of the parents after class to make sure the kid gets home okay? or something). While kids were finishing up their castles, he explained to me that he'll tell them to be safe when crossing streets and to go straight home and call their parents once they're home. Then he told me he thinks that's enough, right? that sending text messages is too big of a task. It was as if he wanted my approval, so that if I agreed with his statement, I was letting him off the hook for sending these messages. I hate being the messenger/enforcer. So although it was clear he wasn't going to send the text messages, I had given the reminder like I was asked to do. If the messages don't get sent, it's not on me.

Wednesday, July 30
I turned on the classroom computer earlier than usual, which was good because I quickly discovered that the internet wasn't working. It worked on the computer at my desk, but not the classroom computer hooked up to the TV. Computer troubleshooting is a prime example of when the language barrier is especially frustrating. At home I'm really good at fixing whatever problem myself, but at school I have to ask someone right away, since I can't read any of the menu options and whatnot.

So I go downstairs to the main office and find a secretary lady to tell her. She checked her computer's internet and saw that it worked. She said stuff to the attendance teacher, and then we walked down the hall and they said some more stuff to another secretary. Eventually my attendance teacher for the day got it working up in the classroom.

My next hurdle for the day came when I realized the teacher's room was locked, but the eggs for our egg drop activity were in that office's fridge. I had to take them home tonight to boil, so that I won't have to clean up messy broken eggs on Thursday. So I looked up the Korean word for eggs, refrigerator, and key, wrote them down, and then took a picture on my phone of the room label for the office. I went downstairs to the main office and made a hand motion of unlocking with a key and showed her the picture of the room number on my phone. She started talking with another lady in the office. At first it sounded like there was no key, in which case I would have just bought a carton of eggs on my own after school - no big deal. Then I heard them say printer, and thought they must wonder why I need to get into the room in the first place, but didn't know how to ask me. I hadn't wanted to start with the eggs and refrigerator because why make it more confusing than it had to be.

But then I was led down the hall into another office, where they gave me the key (attached to a plastic thing with about 20 other keys). I went upstairs, spent some time trying to unlock the door (the lock is way up high, and the big plastic tray of keys didn't make it easier), and finally got in. I open the refrigerator: no eggs. Okay, so she must have meant another office's fridge. Maybe there's a fridge in that main office where the VP's desk is. I locked the office back up and went downstairs to return the key. When I returned it to that small office, one of the secretaries pointed to a small fridge in the corner and said "eggs," then opened the door and showed me where they were. A-ha! I took the eggs out, and the lady was clearly confused as to why I was taking them out of the fridge now, in the early afternoon. With no means to explain that there was a fridge up in the English room that would be on until 4:30, and that I needed to take the eggs home to boil them tonight, I simply said thank you and left the office with the eggs - leaving her to wonder what had just happened. Such is the life of a foreigner working in Korea.

To end this tediously long story on a funny note, I got the following message from someone via the messenger program later in the afternoon (It shows the name of who sent it, but I have no idea who that is):
 시원한 저녁 되시와요.^^
 레베카 선생님 달걀 찾아가는 날입니다.
   Dear Rebbeca
   Would you bring eggs?   Take care.^^~
I'd already gotten the eggs, so I'm not sure what it was trying to communicate. I plopped the Korean into Google Translator, hoping for a vague idea at least, only to get this gem:
Come brighten the cool evening ^ ^
  The teacher Rebecca egg day visit.
Alrighty then.

Thursday, July 31
I remembered to bring the eggs to school today - hurray! Two girls were waiting outside the English room when I got in ten minutes before I'm supposed to be there. One had brought hard boiled eggs for breakfast - funny because today was our egg drop day. The attendance teacher today was the third grade teacher whose classroom is right by the English room. He doesn't speak much English at all, but I feel comfortable around him because he still tried to communicate and be funny - usually by a single English word he knows or even a hand gesture.

He stayed in the English room the entire time, but worked back at my co-teacher's computer (behind the shelves that "divide" the room into classroom and office area). He ended up staying all afternoon and left around 4:10. I'm not sure why he didn't work in his classroom or down in the main office, but didn't ask. I don't have the Korean for such a question, and he doesn't have the English - but mainly I didn't mind his presence at all.

Friday, August 1
Today nobody came to take attendance at all. Everyone was there for the first class, so it wasn't like someone needed to call any parents. I sort of forgot that no one had come to take attendance until the second class started. We did have one missing boy, so I jotted down his name to mark it down later. I wasn't sure what I should have done - if I should have messaged someone (Which in that case, who? The attendance taker changes every day, so I have no idea who it'll be. I only know a few names on the Messenger list, too... no idea which names are for the desks down in that main office) or gone down to the main office (and said what when I can't speak Korean?).

So after I ate lunch at my desk I went down to the main office where the English camp folder resides each night, and where that day's attendance taker usually resides as well. The only person inside was a first grade teacher that I never interact with. He joined the school in March, and I'm assuming he doesn't speak English, which is why we've never talked. He knew I wanted the folder, and opened to the page for the native English teacher - the checklist I do each day to make sure electronics are turned off, lights are off, windows shut, etc. when I lock up. And normally then I return the folder to the office when I leave school. But anyways, I checked them off right then since the folder was clearly staying in the office for the rest of the afternoon. I flipped to the attendance pages and filled in the numbers (a Korean teacher is definitely supposed to do that). I'm not sure why he never came up to the class to take attendance. I think either nobody explained the process to him, or he didn't read the instructions inside the folder - or maybe he was confused on the procedure. Either way, it wasn't a problem, and when my co-teacher looks at the folder on Monday, it should look as if everything went according to plan.
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