Week 16, Monday

I never feel the crush of cold cityfolk more than when I’m struggling on public transportation: The tragedy of today began with Christmas gifts and ended with those gifts at the post office so y’all better damn enjoy what you’re getting.

Today I felt acutely in several different scenarios the gaps in my language. Most notably was at the post office where the polite but somehow still impatient postal worker in an overly formal tweed jacket immediately whipped out his Google translate when I didn’t understand his light speed Korean and when he didn’t understand my halting elementary Korean.

This to me was a sign of defeat. The sign that I couldn’t communicate effectively. It hit again when I had to speak “bubble wrap” into his phone translator whose translation made no sense to the tweed jacket man until he said “아, 버블”…. Which is just “bubble” in a Korean accent.

I wanted to tell him that he should be more patient with me since I’m not a native speaker but I don’t have the language level to do so.

I was swimming somewhere between guilt for not being fluent in the country’s language and also irritation that someone whose job it is to ship international mail didn’t know what a state was. Sir, I speak more Korean than 95% of English teachers here, please cut me a little slack.

Today was also guitar teacher’s last day. Thanks for telling me bro. Guess I’ll see you in three months? If you come back?

5-1 was so terrible that G redacted all their points. One of the girls who really irritated me for not participating was apparently ratted out by her classmates who told G “she’s been spreading bad information about you on social media”. G said she doesn’t care and doesn’t interact with that girl any more than necessary since she staunchly refuses to take tests or tell G what’s wrong. Teenagers, man.

Weirdly enough, grade 4 will listen to me but unfortunately I’m often over ridden since S relents easily. I wouldn’t consider myself a strict teacher but I will administer the death stare until everyone is quiet and I wouldn’t give out rewards if they behave inappropriately. But I’m not the main teacher so things can be sticky.

G is also possibly leaving at the end of this week which means that H will come back for the last month of school. We still don’t know because everything in Korea is super last minute and frankly I hope that H stays home with her baby until the new semester. Otherwise G’s carefully crafted system will fall apart in the last month and I’ll be the only one left to know the fall out.

G told me today that I should look into teaching in a different area where the students are more motivated. And maybe she also means where the teachers are more motivated. I think she’s looking forward to leaving this school where she doesn’t get the warmth from the staff that she deserves.

So.

I was nearly defeated by the various small events of today. Luckily there were some shining moments like playing a boardgame with one of the very cute and tiny hard-working boys in 5-3. G told me “they like you. You play along with them”.

A grade 4 student also accompanied me on my walk after school to the post office since she was going home in the same direction.

Overall It’s been… a day. Let’s start new tomorrow.

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