With only one week left at CPIS (my hellhole of a school) you’d think things would be winding down smoothly. Then again nothing about the past 6 months has gone “smoothly” so why should this be any different?
Between the school’s buyout and an incredibly unprofessional new director we’ve had our share of lies, surprises and “extra fun” meetings. It all started with my director shouting at me on the street. She was accusing me of going to Yonsei University (where I’ve never been) and telling all of the parents that we hadn’t paid in 2 months (which isn’t true). She began screaming as I tried to complete my bus duty. Somehow I stayed calm and she eventually went inside (only about 30 minutes late for work).
Every few days she would bring up some gripe that she had with me or one of my colleagues. 90% of it was false and it seemed like her attempt to find a scapegoat for all the issues the school was having. We did our best to maintain composure and keep teaching but when we had merely 6 workdays left we couldn’t take it any more.
The silver lining to all this was that I’ve been moving into my Hyewha apartment every weekend and by our breaking point I was completely moved in. I’ve got a bigger apartment with a larger kitchen, a balcony, tons of storage and a REAL SHOWER. My new queen-size bed is set up and had been sleeping there for a few days. The bad news was I still had 6 days at my hogwon.
CPIS, our school (I use that term loosely) was sold last month and as far as we could tell they were trying to screw us out of our severance and possibly even the last paycheck. Some of us were threatened with lawsuits, deportation or just plain slander. We all felt uncomfortable working without a new contract or letter of release; there was no guarantee we’d be paid so we organized a sit in.
Then we found out the school hadn’t been paying rent for 5 of our apartments… for the last 4 months! All 11 of the foreign teachers met and agreed. Enough was enough. We made a list of our demands and sat in the main office awaiting our director. We were determined to get some solid answers today or not go back to work. There were 3 things we’d been asking for since early January:
- New contract signed by the new school’s owner
- Letters of release for everyone from both old & new owner (since we didn’t know who we were actually working for)
- Breakdown of finances we are owed & what day it will be paid(pension, paycheck, severance, housing deposit etc.)
These 3 requests we’ve been asking about over a month and kept getting laughed at with responses like “trust me” and “its okay.” As we sat there contemplating how the morning would pan out our director walked in. She smiled at us and promptly walked past to her office.
Moments later she came out screaming!
“Don’t laugh at me!” The director opened with as we sat silently. She sure has a strange definition of the word “laugh.”
“How you dare?” she continued. “Who you think you are?”
Her voice stayed somewhere in the decibel range of the Ohio State Marching Band and a banshee’s death wail. Although she regularly asked us to stop yelling and calm down we (surprisingly) never yelled back. In fact we’ve got most of the conversation recorded and I’ll be posting that shortly because out of context it is quite hilarious how big of an ass she made of herself.
‘Shut Up!” The director screamed at one coworker trying to explain our requests as I handed her a piece of paper and reminded her that we’ve been asking for a month. Shoving her hand in my face she turned to another coworker, spouting “don’t point at me!” as his hands remained in his lap.
Twitching slightly I realized that our director wasn’t making any sense because she was overwhelmed with the situation. She didn’t know what to do and her only defense mechanism was to yell, unfortunately she isn’t quite fluent in English so she didn’t make any sense. At this point it didn’t matter; she’d gone too long without fixing the problems. Wait no, in fact she’d exacerbated everything.
“[Director], we are not yelling. You are the one who has been screaming. Here is a list of what we want.” I handed her a folded piece of paper with our “demands.” Everyone had a printout and it was the 3rd time we tried to show it to her.
She looked it over, calmed down, screamed again, calmed down, etc. The “meeting” ended about 20 minutes later with her promising that CPIS’s new owner would come to the school at noon and give us contracts and release letters. They handed us a spreadsheet with a breakdown of our finances moments later.
Everyone was surprised how quickly things were able to be finished. So the new guy didn’t get there at noon, in fact he never showed up. But his wife came and her name was on all our paperwork. Before we left for the day we had all the documents we needed and the opportunity to dispute the inaccurate payslips.
Once all the dust settled we realized that we still didn’t like CPIS or any of the administration. The good news was every day meant one day closer to my new job! As of writing this post I’ve been paid in full and already had orientation at my new school!