We continue teaching without pay so have we continued teaching at CPIS in a similar vein to last week with minimal instruction. I hate the feeling that I could be doing more for these kids but even in my short stay here in Korea I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself first.
That was one of the first lessons I was taught here from a more experienced expat. “Koreans aren’t going to look after you. You need to always look out for your best interests or they will just take advantage of you. It happens all the time to Americans, especially at hagwons.” I took my friend Hoho’s advice my first week after I found out about the first series of late paychecks.
Now its almost 2 months later and not only have things failed to improve but they’ve actually gotten worse. We have administration leaving and the owner’s financial situation keeps getting worse. One of my coworkers told me this morning that he is seeking a letter of release immediately to start a new job as soon as December. I’m going to try and stick it out at least until the end of the Korean school year and start at a new school in March. If I can stay that long I won’t have to repay my flight from America and will be able to get into the normal academic calendar here in Korea. My interview that got postponed until this Saturday would fill in perfectly. Even if my current hagwon sorts everything out I’d rather be at a reputable private school here in Seoul.
The talk going around the teachers is whether or not we’ll even get paid this week. Few are optimistic and believed Mr. Bae’s “maybe Tuesday or Wednesday” and I am predicting we’ll get half our paycheck like they did last time. It is incredibly difficult to get motivated to develop lessons and those that I design I am saving until after we get paid.
Today my class had extended playtime with the only academic work being our morning meeting and a few pages in the Reader’s & Writer’s Notebook. We watched half of Despicable Me, had a lengthy reading time and spent even longer practicing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the Christmas concert. Other classes spent long periods coloring or just reading and a few went to play on the roof.
The kids are still having fun and speaking in English all day (or trying to). I’m not sure which scares me more: that I don’t think I the administration notices our pseudo-strike because they can’t tell the difference between the current situation and real teaching or that I don’t have a paycheck and all the owner can say is “trust me.”