My thoughts on the Sewol tragedy
I think of the kids I teach, all their different personalities, their crushes on singers, their smiles, their laughter and I'm devastated, because even though they weren't my students, I can picture them. I can see them excited about a rare break from studying, chatting with their friends and making plans about their futures.
Korean bonds are strong. Good friends link arms in public and there isn't really a personal space boundary, so I also can imagine the children, boys and girls alike clutching to each other in fear, yet trusting the adults to tell them what to do and I feel anger that the people they trusted, were more concerned about covering their own asses.
The crew would naturally follow the captains orders and many job contracts in Korean are writing that employees must do exactly what their boss tells them to do unless it is against the law. This means if your boss tells you to get coffee every day and take his dry cleaning to the dry cleaners, you have to obey. There are thousands of small tasks my Korean friend is asked to do and that she must do not to break this rule, but have nothing to do with the job she was hired for. If she were in a situation where she had make a decision-- say the water main broke and her boss was taking a tap, but she was given direct orders not to disturb her boss, she would feel like she had been put between a rock and a hard place.
Precious minutes were lost-- perhaps has many as fifteen-- getting captain from his cabin (perhaps waking him up). The crew were not dithering because they were incapable of evacuating the ship, but because they've been trained from babies that they can't make them without permission when an elder is on board.
This is one of the reasons the captain was nearly seventy. Even if the company had the best captain in the world, if he was younger than one crew member, that older crew member could disobey orders. But simply giving orders to an older person is considered rude. (Our financial manger at Yeongju English power simply by virtue of her age and pretty much runs the roost.)
More precious time was lost with the captain trying to get the ship righted, trying and failing twice. Experienced as he was, maybe he could have done it if the ship hadn't been overloaded, but I deeply suspect that his decision to have the students remain below deck had more to do with covering his own ass. He wasn't where he was supposed to be and knew it. There are a lot of would of, could of, should of's.
Disclaimer: None of the pictures are of the Sewol.
Question: Why don't ships have rope ladders everywhere, so if the shop does tilt, people can use them to escape? Why don't boats have "air bags" that can inflate to slow down the ships rate of sinking?
My phonics level students are struggling to learn the English alphabet and though I've assigned "fun" home work such as watch this you-tube video, certain students don't know their alphabet. It's hard teaching the little ones. It's like rolling a boulder uphill.
This really doesn't have a lot to do with dusty computers. But it does have a little to do with them. The Yeonju English center is amazing... and growing lots of dust, particularly the 16 computers in the E-learning classroom.
So, I decided to see if they worked, the excuse being the alphabet woes, but really, I just want an excuse to use those computers. Why waste such a resource?
However, incorporating technology in the classroom is hard and technology rooms are often not designed with the ergonomics of teachers, especially those of us who are room rovers. This is why I hate teaching in E-learning room. The main computer is by the window, next to the bigass TV while the white board is over yonder.
Anyway, I powered on all 16 computers, discovered that the assertion that "They don't work" and are "slow" was wrong. But the dust... somebody simply should have warned me about the the dust. Really.
Anyway, I'm quite excited for my early learners as their phonics book has lovely games that they like to play.
"So play they will," said Yuda, * "And learn."
* Yuda is Yoda's cousin twice removed. Now you know.
One of my students is very creative. When he isn't playing and destracting the student next to him, he goes elewhere in his head. When he is elsewhere he gets out of his chair, talks to himself and plays with himself. The only way to get him back on task, is to walk up to him -- calling name doesn't work when he is in elsewhere.
My solution has been to put him at a pull out desk beside the teachers' desk. While the other kids open their books and pay attention, he plays with his pencil. While I'm teaching and being entertaining, he is out of his chair, playing near the white board. I don't know how he has learned anything, but he knows more than other students.
I moved him and instead of telling him he is bad, I continue with the rest of the class. He is small and when is playing by the white board which is behind the big desk, he is not so distracting to the students. Instead of shouting at him to sit down across the room, I can quietly reseat him while continuing to teach or even after I have the seveteen other students are on task.
My writer self understands elsehwere thinkers. Long before I put pen to paper, I wrote stories in my head. Perhaps I am simply seeing a little of myself in the boy. I can remember the teacher who first took a little f the creativity out of me and I remember the woman who tried to snuff it out. But I also remember teachers who enocurage different thinking, and I loved their class. Strangely enough, the teachers who encouraged different thinking were alwaos the "weird" teachers, the ones who were creative in their classes. They were teachers who didn't shy away from turning education into a performance. The creative teachers held a shared love of students and students had a love for them. The stomper-outers, instead, seemed to hold to the old saying that children should be seen and not heard.
Yeonju English Center: happy sad face
Nonetheless, we work very hard here and it's a year around gig with nary enough time to recharge our batteries. Good teachers need time to recharge their batteries.
I like working hard. I always do more than is asked of me. Always have, always will. However, these days I'm leaving my job completly exhausted. I'm working harder than I did at the private accademy (hogwon,) Next year the montly bonus for working at the English center will be dropped from $500,000 won to $200,000 won. That's more than half while the work load continues to increase.
At any rate, while I wrote and taught before, I don't remember being this creatively drained at the end of the day. Working here is good too because... it simply is. Perhaps that's the secret of life. Accepting that the good and the bad, and as Tim Gun would say, "Make it work."
Lots and lots of work has fallen to the way side. She will go home if I tell her to. I can have days or even weeks because our friendship is strong and she wants wants me to be successful.
I've lost too many friends when I folded back into myself so that I could write.... Friends ignored for too long, will fill the time they once spent with their writer friend on other activities. From there it doesn't take long for a friend to be a friend that you see once a month, which becomes once every couple of months and then it becomes somebody you plan to have coffee with but you've got this and that, and they've got this and that ,too, so the coffee doesn't happen. When it's all said and done, you're just friends on Facebook.
Friendship and writing are two activities that are ever so hard to balance. These days, I'm trying not to sacrifice one for the other. But, at the risks of sounding like a broken record, it effing hard.
And I realized something. When friend shares your dream they want to help even if only in small ways. Looking at this now, in words, I feel like a fool for not seeing that before. Obviously, not every friend can be in a writer's life in this way. But the ones who can, are are such blessings.
This is a long way of saying that, today, as I was getting annoyed with my friend, I realized the solution was simple: a second laptop. While I loathed to spend the money, I realized it would remove the greatest obstacle in our friendship. Now we can go to coffee shops and work on things together, take breaks together and procrastinate together. Granted, in the end, she may end up using the computer to play solitaire, but her work product is not the point.
Like the good friend that she is, she understood all of this and more, and gladly agreed to work after we get off work tomorrow (and everyday after). She only made one caveat: tofu* dinner first.
And I realized, that perhaps every writer needs drop box and a second laptop for friends and family who want to be in their lives. Perhaps, this idea of writing with the door closed, is a good idea, but perhaps including people is also a good idea. If you're writing in a room and a friend is with you, it can be ever so good simply because you're with a friend.
Thoughts? Please share them in the comments below.
Miss J: I'll call the movers for you. Me: Miss Q, can you tell me wether the fridge, washer and other key items are the school's or apartment.
Miss Q: I must micro manage everthing so we must wait unitl I have to do that. (She didn't say these exact words.)
Me: Okay Miss Q. Can I see the appartment.
Miss Q: Why?
Two weeks later the movers come to my appartment to give me an estimate and after doing so asks, "when do you want to move."
Me: as soon as possible.
Friend translating English to Korean: As soon as possible. (All Korean will henceforth be in italics.)Then friend to me: What belongs to the school.
Me: I don't know.
Friend: I'll call Miss Q. Hello Miss Q, the movers can move Me tomorrow. What stuff is the school's.
Miss Q: I told the movers I would set the date.
The next day.
Miss Q: Me, when can you move.
Mis Q: Okay, I'll tell the landlord.
Landlord: Okay you're all set to move to apartment 305
MissQ: You're set to move to Apartment 305.
Me: I remember it being 301
Instert back and forth about which apparment.
Me: I need to see this aparment. 301 is eactly like mine, but Soandso said the other appartments are smaller. And the ones on the back don't get any sun because of the giant appartment building.
Miss Q to landlord: Blah, blah, blah, sun, size, blah blah, blah. To me: She says it's exactly the same size and gets plenty of sunlight.
Me: I really need to see it.
Miss Q: Okay. The door code is 1234. (Not exagerating.)
The next day
Me: 305 is a lot smaller. I'd need a smaller bed to live there. It doesn't get much sun and even if it did the ten feet of space between my window and the one in the building next door means I still can't open my blinds without people seeing.
end of story.