Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The “Business Trip” to the Cheongsong Office of Education

All English teachers of the Cheongsong region were in for a surprise today. We were all to go on a business trip to the Cheongsong Office of Education. The foreign English teachers and all Korean English teachers were to attend the unexpected meeting held by the Cheongsong English Department.

Upon arrival at the office, everyone was confused. No one knew exactly what was going on, so we all filed into the room where the meeting was to be held and waited. Finally, the head of the Cheongsong English Department greeted us with an exaggerated smile, and went on with the introductions in Korean. Then the meeting went on to the topic at hand, which had many of the Korean English teachers arguing. With all foreign English teachers confused and staring blankly into space, my high school co-teacher from Andeok School scurried over and began explaining the agenda of the meeting.

It turned out that the meeting had nothing to do with the foreign English teachers but was set for all of the Korean English teachers. We (the foreign teachers) were just invited along to have a chance to meet each other (but by that time, five out of the six of us had already met). After forty-five minutes into the meeting, the six of us were politely shooed out of the room (after everyone realized that we had no place in the meeting) and we waited in another room for forty-five minutes, discussing how ‘dynamic’ Korea was. We had plenty of stories to share…all of the ups and downs that we had had for the past seven months...and what we were looking forward to for the next five in our teaching contract.

At 5:30pm, the Korean English teachers concluded their meeting. What had taken an hour and a half to discuss was all about forming an unnecessary English teachers’ council, through which the English teachers could discuss and improve the English program. A valiant effort on the side of the Cheongsong English Department for trying to improve the English program, however, all of the Korean English teachers were spread out across more than an hour’s drive of schools, and none of them had the time to meet once a week due to supplementary classes after school. Unfortunately, this did not go well with the Cheongsong head, and the teachers had to nominate one person to organize such meetings. Mrs. Na, my main co-teacher last year, was in charge of the English teacher’s council last year, but since having circulated to another school due to their 5-year-limit policy, the spot was open. The teachers automatically chose Ken’s co-teacher who had the most teaching experience out of all teachers present. Now she has another ordeal to manage every week on top of her hectic schedule.

I think we should get paid overtime for those one and a half hours :).

- Jess

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