Wednesday, 31 December 2003

Concerts and Staff Nights Out

It's New Year's Eve now, and here I am in a PC Bang (a version of an internet cafe) alone, on a computer. This is what it's come to, stranded in a foreign nation in solitude while the world celebrates around me.

No, don't worry, I've just popped in to check email and write a quick entry. Later on, John (a teacher from the school) is calling by and we're going downtown for some food and see what's up. It's going to be a civilised night though, due to money and - oddly - choice. We may visit a jazz bar John knows of and drink red wine.

Yesterday was fun. My second day of teaching but a quiet one. Just a handful of classes and I found it all very bearable. In fact, I even felt progress was made in one class.

I was caught up in a storm after lunchtime. A metaphorical storm that is to say, as John reached boiling point with Mrs Kim, our director. Not because she's called Kim like every single damn Korean but because of what he saw, mostly correctly, as her mismanagement and mistreatment of the staff. I'm just new so I didnt get involved, though I did stay around as a quiet moral support for John, but via our interpretor, a teacher called Chan, some angry words were exchanged but ultimately resolving themselves into a conciliation. I lke Mrs Kim at face value, as she smiles a lot, buys me food because she thinks I'm too thin and even bought me a towel the other day (?) but I appreciate her management is a little slack at times. However, it looks like hearing John's opinion gave her a kick up the sizeable backside and she vowed to inform us of decision with greater clarity.

That's school politics then, in the evening was the school festival. This was a concert held by the children as a PR exercise effectively, as each class was wheeled on stage and they trot out an English song, or do a play in patchy English or speak at deafening volume into a microphone declaring their ambitions or describing their life (one memorably announcing "I hate my mother and my father they are fat")

I rather enjoyed the display though was not overly upset when it eventually came to an end. For the finale the schoolkids all went on stage together along with the teachers, which included me. Then we all sang "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" which the kids knew far better than me.

After this joyous spectacle all the teachers went out for a meal together, paid for by the school. A meal out in Korea invariably involves enthusistic alcohol consumption and this one certainly didn't disappoint.

After a fairly short perod of time, the female teachers - about 8 of them - all usually rather shy and reserved became decidely boisterous. One in particular, a toothy woman named Jasmine who it later transpired had finished working at the school that day, became very raucous. I don't know what she was saying but it was said loud and Chan - the only male Korean teacher - was pissing himself laughing, though never offered a translation.

Umm... oh, I can't be bothered writing any more, I've got better things to do. Basically, it was a fun evening, a very good ice-breaker, we went to a Norebang later (a venue with individual karaoke rooms) and I truly murdered Sinatra's "New York", then to a bar where the women became more raucous and I impressed them with my drinking feats.

I've acquired a Korean name too. Most Koreans adopt an English name to make it easier for us (probably because when 14/15 individuals are called xxx-Kim it gets confusing) so I decided I needed a Korean name, so the teachers named me Nam-il. Apparently it's the name of a sexy and popular Korean footballer.

That's that then. No teaching today or tomorrow. Have a good New Year. Don't do anything I wouldn't do, though that's not hugely restrictive.

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