Stumbling for the finish line

Thu Feb 5, 2004

I’m too busy to do much these days although I did manage to play a game of Scrabble in the bar with Sky last night. I had a strong start, but after a few beers, my lexical abilities correspondingly decreased to the point where I was laboriously spelling out the word “c-a-t” on the board for a measly five points.

The whole deal with Dean fell through, which means I not only have to tell him he’s not going to have a job when he gets here and that his original degree certificate is sitting here in a backwater Korean town, but I lose out on the $300 recruiting bonus. Major, major bummer. What makes it worse is that he’s on some anthropological stint somewhere in the jungles of Vietnam right now and it’s impossible to get hold of him. He’s going to have a nice surprise when he gets here. The immigration office denied his request for a Visa because when he was here last time he copped out of his last contract after a month. They must be getting stricter on who they let in these days. Still, it’s not like he was fired or anything, he went home for ‘personal reasons’. Our supervisor, “D”, was already showing another potential teacher around hours after the immigration office called.

Speaking of “D” - today she blamed me, albeit in jest, for the fact that the Kitten class “aren’t scared of the teachers”. What am I supposed to do!? Intercept them in the parking lot and threaten to beat them into submission? Threatening phone-calls? Give them a thrashing and tell them they’d better get used to it because they’re going to get slapped around in Elementary school? No thanks. Actually I think it’s healthy to let them defy authority, it encourages free thought.

Today one of my students gave me some walnuts in their shell in celebration of the full moon. Apparently the lunar new year operates on a fifteen day cycle and it isn’t over yet. The scanty explanations proffered by the students and teachers have left me a little confused. Apparently people go out and play games under the light of the full moon and… pray to the moon? Or send their wishes to the moon? It’s kind of hard to tell what’s going on, but the walnut shell is perfectly round like the full moon is this evening, so I can see a connection there. When I left Canada, I had visions of engaging in some amateur fieldwork over here, but without speaking the language it’s been pretty useless. I haven’t managed to gain much of an insider’s perspective at all, although, obviously I’ve run into a lot of opinions about various cultural aspects from just about everybody, Korean and non-Korean alike.



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