My First WorkDays

Well hopefully this will be the last extended break in my blogging flow. I am sorry to everyone who has wondered where I was or what I was doing. I am happy to say I am absolutly fine.

Since my last post so much has happened it is very difficult to describe it all. About two days ago the Orientation ended. (There is a video I would like to post but I need a few dollars to get a premium WordPress account so I can buy the ability to post proper videos. I haven’t checked my american banlk account but I need to talk to mom about that soon.) Long story short we were divided up and shuffled onto busses. A friend of mine described it as a litter of puppies being split up. We were all bright eyed and confused as random people walked up to us, having paid for us. We were snatched away to quickly to properly say goodbye to one another and arrived shortly at our new home.

My living situation, while good is…less than desirable. It turns out I was one of the lucky few that was chosen to be one of two teachers at my middle school. It turns out the school officals found out a week before and did not have adequate time to prepare houseing for two teachers. They had an english speaking teacher before and a very nice loft apartment high up on the 21st floor of a very prestigious apartment building. But while scrabling to find another they bought the cheapest thing they could hidden away in an alley. My partner english teacher and I flipped a coin for the better of the two apartments…and I lost.

My apartment is very very very basic. My personal space is small, the view is of a brick wall and the place has a constant smell of mildew. I remember the first time I called up a friend of mine I began subconciously complainging about it. I told her that I can’t read the directions on my washing machiene and that it held my laundry hostage for about 5 cycles just wasting water. I told her that in the morning it’s so cold I shiver until I can turn on the hot water heating. I told her that I didn’t have a table that was clearly stated in my contract and I thought my school would try to weasle their way out of it by softly telling me places where I could buy one myself. I told her that the first time I tried to walk to it myself I got lost for two hours while carrying groceries. I told her that I tried asking the other english teacher if they would want to do a 6 month switch and he kind of scoffed and changed the subject. But Tiffany is such a good friend she told me her place was pretty bad too but she was excited to get to work, and then i remembered I came here to do a job, teach children.

Its hard to describe how I feel about my school. I have to say it’s the first time I’m actually dissapointed it’s a friday and I can’t go to work. My partner and I have have spent the past few days pouring over lesson plan material and even thought we wouldn’t actually be infront of the students teachign for another two weeks I can’t wait. The school has been a buzz about our arrival. My Co-teacher tells me that all the students really want to know is when they’ll meet us. Every now and then while Simon and I are int he office working hard on our introductionary lesson they’ll pop into the office to help some other teacher and stare, smile and giggle shyly.

I remember yesterday we were called up by our Co-Teacher (a native S. Korean who is incharge of my partner and I) to an assembly in the auditorium where all the kids would be lined up and greeet the pricipal and the faculty. Simon and I are quite aware that we don’t have the most prestigious school. The place looks a little old, but it’s also has one of the largest student bodies in the area. The auditorium was packed to the brim. I remember my partner had to use the bathroom so I followed him looking for an excuse to see the kids more. We moved through the crowd and the hallways were still pretty full reguardless of all the kids still in the auditorium.

There were so many but they were all so happy to see us. They moved to the side for us and smiled waving and trying their best to say “Hello” while my partner and I did our best to say “Anyohaseyo” to them. I reached my hand out into the crowd and some of the kids shook my hand. They were so eager to touch me that on ocassion I would shake four hands at one time. Thats when it happened, right as we finished walking through them I heard one fo the boys shout “Michael Jordan!” I had shaved my face hoping to make a good impression and I suppose any black man without facial hair who was slightly taller than average to them looked like michael jordan, but I wore it with pride. I had always heard that the kids love to compare their american teachers to clebrities and i was prepared to accept Obama or Will Smith, but I surely won’t turn down a Michael Jordan!

I never really realized how many positive black male role models reach the international stage in this day and age. I’m so glad they didn’t call me Michael Vick, or Ice Cube. However, I am expecting someone eventually expecting me to play basketball or at the very least rap (both of which I do horribly).

I snuck out today, trying to get a glimpse of what the students everyday life was like. I felt a little bad writing lesson plans for students and not knowing their speaking ability when all I really had to do was walk up to them and say Hi, so i did. I walked up the stairs to see the students grouped up by classroom reaching into large cooking pots and they pilled  bibimbop onto their plates (rice with veggies and a spicy chili sauce with sesame seed oil.) I decided I would make this visit more personal. I found students at the back of the lunch line and extended my hand. Almost every single one took my hand and shook it vigoriously. I remember wondering if my introductionary lesson would be too difficult because it involved Basic Introductions (whats your name, where are you from, what do you like to do, etc.) for children who were all on varying levels of english speaking proficency, however I am happy to report that the lesson might be beneath them. Most every single one could respond and tell me their names and even understand my more complex greeting telling them to enjoy their lunch, and most did it with little to no help from more fluent speakers. The kids here are smart, if a native spanish teacher approached me in middle school I’m absolutly certain I would have nothing to say.

It felt pretty good walking through the halls and having the children bow to me. I really hope I wasn’t power tripping, because I was only supposed to nod back. While the influence I hold over them feels good, I’m more interested in helping them to learn and grow. There are so many of them and they all seem so eger. At the end of the course my partner and I will be administering a country wide speaking fluency test that they all need to pass, and I want all of them to pass. There is just an energy in the school that eminates from the students. It really pumps me up. I can’t wait to start, but I will admit I am just as nervous as I am excited.

But I’ll try to enjoy this weekend. It’s the first weekend since comming to the country where I really have free range to myself. I want to spend some more time studying Korean and I want to post this piece to the blog as soon as possible. I don’t have the internet in my apartment…I can’t get it until I get an Alien Registration Card and that might take a few days since we filed for it today.

If I posted this on Friday it means that I found a PC Bong (Cyber Cafe) near my house thats open pretty late (because it’s like 9:30pm here). I probibly won’t be getting on Skype anytime soon without internet, but I do have my cell phone. I’ll post the phone number up temporarilly for about a day in a new post. BUt I won’t leave it up because I don’t like having my information up on the internet for so long. I love you all! Please don’t forget about me.

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14 Responses to My First WorkDays

  1. Deloris Hunter says:

    Oh, so glad to hear from you Ryan. Questions first which you generally don’t answer: Do you have a window where you an get ventilation for that mildew smell? Can you talk to someone about it? Did you get the table? Did you register with the US State Department yet? I bet you are taking quick showers now. (Smile). It is so good to hear your excitement about your teaching assignment. I hope your are able to teach them as much as they will teach you.

    It is 7:00 pm on Friday and Rajean and Rodney are at my house. They send hellos and their love, and so do I. My email address is Deloris.Hunter@yahoo.com. Write to me on email what you want to discuss regarding your American checking account. I hope you are monitoring your cash funds conservatively. I think about you frequently and get worried when I don’t hear form you. That’s just the way I am. Don’t worry, I am fine and no one is going to forget you. We love you and pray the best for you. Love, Mom

    • Echo says:

      Im sorry there are such frequent breaks between when i post. But that will change tomorrow…or for you tonight. I have a mindow and I usually leave it open after I head off to work to air out the steam from my shower. My showers are much shorter…but they’re still pretty hot. For a pretty small looking place I actually have a pretty decent water heater.

      I haven’t registered with teh state department yet. But I do have my Alien Registration Card.

  2. Marty says:

    Loved this post. They call you MJ. That’s interesting. Sorry you got the funky apartment. That really sucks. So glad your excited about teaching the kids. Ryan, we will never forget about you.

    • Echo says:

      Thanks Marty I really do need the support. I’m sorry i got the funky apartment too. But it’s alright. The place isn’t as bad as what some people ended up with. Although it would have been nice to have a shower thats seperate from the rest of the bathroom. But I’ll get used to it.

  3. Marty says:

    Please post pix of you place and the hood you live in.

  4. B says:

    Wow, they called you Michael Jordan. I agree you more Will Smith or Obama. So there are positive images of black men in S. Korea. It’s tid bits like that I enjoy finding out. Keep it coming.

    • Jackie Brewington says:

      Hi Ryan or should I say Michael Jordan (LOL), Although your new residence is not the best, you said a mouthful it is about the kids. It will get better because you will find the good in every situation. You are going to be just fine because you are on assignment and equipped for it all. I will not forget about you nephew. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! KEEP YOUR HEAD UP 😉

      • Echo says:

        Thanks Jackie. I’ll try to stay positive. Things are not all nightmares and dread. I am having a good deal of fun. And the people here are pretty nice.

    • Echo says:

      lol its funny you say that. One of My Co-Teachers just said the students are now comparing me to a guy from a movie named Florida. I looked around adn the closest thing I could find was Miami Vice. So apparently I also look like Jamie Fox.

  5. marty says:

    Wanted to see if you posted anything new. I hope your making your new place feel like home. Miss you and love you.

    • Echo says:

      I miss you too Bro. I’ve worn the place in a little bit. But I need to get some posters or paintings or decoration or something. My walls are still bare and pretty boring.

  6. KiofNC says:

    Hey Cuz,

    I’m glad that the true purpose of your visit is keeping you in good spirits! I hope this trip will continue to impact your life and get you closer to reaching your ultimate potential. On a side note I just found out that an old friend of mine is stationed in S. Korea. I’ll try and find out more info about where he is and what he does on the regular. In the mean time continue to soak in everything and have fun!

    • Echo says:

      lol it’s funny you said that, because the original purpose of the trip was not neccessarilly to teach children. But I am looking forward to Monday (when i teach my first lesson) with both dread and anticipation. If you find the number of your friend I’d really appreciate it. I really do want to connect with as many people as I can while Im here.

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