Week 17, Friday

I am currently at home on a sick day. I was worried about taking it since previous teachers and training have said even though we have a contracted 11 sick days, it’s culturally inappropriate to use them. Today I would have helped S with grade 6 but since she plans the whole lesson and I help out with a game or activity, I didn’t think my absence would be too unhelpful.

Anyway it turned out to be a non problem. S said no worries, get better and see you Monday. I don’t need a doctor’s note for the first three so I’m free to spend the day catching up on my Chinese drama in pajamas.

Trying to understand the culture of the school gives me a headache. Yesterday during lunch the principal (!) approached me and H to ask how good my Korean is. Obviously warning bells went off in my head but they continued to have a discussion that roughly amounted to “does Abigail speak enough Korean to work with a non-English speaking Korean teacher during the English winter camp?” The idea was to relieve S of her winter camp duty since she’s had to work twice the camp hours as usual because of H’s pregnancy.

But after school yesterday S and I talked about summer camp planning as if nothing had changed. I asked her “do you plan to take up the principles offer?“ S replied the principal never approached her and in any case she had previously told the principal “if I work summer camp, then I don’t want to be an English teacher next year” so S was banking on her suffering through English Camp to grant her a homeroom teacher position.

But she shrugged her shoulders and said she might end up as the English teacher next year anyway. There’s one teacher who is currently out on a gap year taking care of her son, so if she returns she will take up the English position. But no one knows if she will come back just yet. (H told me she came back for this last month so she could receive winter vacation pay before she takes her gap year. I don’t blame her!)

I think S would really enjoy being a homeroom teacher so I hope it works out for her.

I’ve realized that S takes things seriously even if at first it doesn’t seem so: when I make a concern known, she’ll come back to me in a few days after having talked to the VP or staff.

It also turns out that for me to save up more vacation time for all of my visitors and summer, I’ll be working more desk warming hours this winter. Of course no other teachers will be there as they have double the holiday hours as a contracted guest teacher. Additionally, since our school will be under construction (asbestos) my temporary office will be located in the gym/admin building.

However, I might not have a computer or Internet access. At first I was aghast, “what am I supposed to do for three weeks?” but having told this to S I know it will be taken care of. At worst I’ll rent a WiFi egg and see if the school will cover the cost. After all, I supposedly have these extra hours to plan and how can I plan if I can’t get on the Internet?

I know this has been a very entertaining post about school politics that probably only makes sense to me. To ease your suffering I’ll share some very exciting news:

Next year there is a long holiday so I decided to finally visit my online Chinese students in person*. I reached out to my favorite three regulars as well as some class friends from the summer. Tina, Elsa, and Mark are all free and want to meet. One of my class friends also invited me to her home. And in a stroke of luck all four people live in just two cities which makes travel across the expanse of China much easier. I’ve wanted to see my babies in person for so long and now I finally can! I’ll probably fly into Beijing, hit up the one or two big tourist sites like the Great Wall, then take the overnight train to Harbin then fly to Shanghai.

Look forward to an overstuffed album in May.

*As of February 2020, the coronovirus has appeared in 8 Chinese cities with infections also springing up in South Korea, Japan, and now the US. Plans unfortunately will have to be put on hold. I also hope for the safety of my students and their families.

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