Saturday, December 17, 2005

University life -- Here I come

I have a University job! Oh Yeah!

But don't tell anybody. The people that didn't land the job won't be informed until Monday -- assuming that some of the other candidates were turned down of course. Hello 20 hours of work per week. Hello 2 months of holidays a year. Goodbye kindergarten classes. Goodbye to the 9 to 6:30 work day! Goodbye to coming into work even when I don't have classes, twiddling my thumbs and not being able to leave work until 6:15.

This all started about a month ago, when I went to a Suwon University job interview (see one of my earlier posts). The interview went okay and I was somewhat hopeful. They told me that if they could make their decision quickly enough they would tell me whether or not I had the job within 2 weeks.

I still haven't heard squat from them but they did pass my application onto the good people of the Suwon Science College -- some sort of sister organization of Suwon University. Apparently the college's campus is buried deep within the Suwon University's campus.

Thank god for my new sleek Anycall cellphone. Well it isn't new or sleek anymore it actually looks a bit beaten up, but it's still silver. At about 2pm last Tuesday I received a txt message from somebody that represented SSC saying that I should txt her my email address. Normally I'm a very suspicious guy so I might have just ignored the request but I let myself send the txt, being somewhat intrigued about the possibilities of who the heck this was.

Then I got an email message from a professor inviting me to an interview at 9:30am on Friday. Thanks to the kind and warm friendship of so many people at my school I was able to clear away my Kindy class and attend the interview. And to my warm surprise I now have a job. They want me to sign the contract on Tuesday.

To tell you the truth I'm a bit surprised. The interview involved a five to ten minute sample lesson which I was quite nervous about. I've never taught at the university level so I was at a bit of a loss for what to prepare. I asked my good friend Gavin for some advice and as always he managed to make me feel at ease about the ways of the world and the kindness not to mention simplicity of thought of my fellow man. His advice for the lesson was to be as interactive as possible.

So, I decided to devise an interactive lesson despite the fact that I knew it would seem a little odd and I'd probably fall flat on my ass -- considering that there would be no students, hence no interaction. While we the seven cute/handsome candidates, all sat waiting for our turn I asked the others what they'd planned for their lesson. One candidate had chosen a lesson on unvoiced consanants another on prepositions -- they all sounded dry as sandpaper.

That's when I realized I could either succeed wonderfully or fall horrendously to my doom. While waiting in the hall for the most recent person to finish her lesson, I couldn't help but notice that she sounded like she was shouting, I had a funny moment with the secretary and the guy that was managing the candidates in and out of the interview room. They were both looking at me and down at a peice of paper and laughing nearly uncontrollably. This was going on for a good 2 or 3 minutes. I was trying my best to take it in stride, not feeling too especially paranoid at that moment I bore their amusement and waited patiently.

Finally, the secretary explained to me that they were laughing because they figured the photocopy of my passport made me look like I was black. Naturally, I didn't find it too amusing but when I saw the bad printout of the black and white copy it did look somewhat amusing as any passport photo is likely to look.

The interview was scary to start with. As I entered the room there were six adult Korean men sitting in lazy boys looking very serious and very, very bored. I sat down on my chair in front of them, and waited for somebody to speak. They asked a few questions and then invited me to start my lesson. My lesson was essentially 16 squares on a piece of paper each containing a statement.

"Find somebody that;
  • didn't eat kimchi yesterday.
  • ate an-chang-sal last week.
  • is 36-years-old.
  • has been to North America.
  • has visited Boracay.
  • can count to 42 by 3's.
  • etc.
I was frightened that the miserable and bored looking older Korean men would be supremely unimpressed. Aand yet I persisted. I passed out my interactive sheet to each of them in turn and explained that the students would get a chance to run around the classroom and, as rapidly as possible, get their fellow students to testify by way of a signature that "no, I did not eat kimchi yesterday" or "yes, indeed I did go on a blind date last week".

Naturally, this didn't take very long so I had to take out my second, back up lesson plan, which was a reading with an accompanying set of questions for discussion. I also went through this lesson explaining what I'd do if I had some students in front of me. That's when one of the men started speaking Korean, and at length, I finally got to hear the translation of what he'd been saying.

The geist of it was "What the heck are you doing buddy! Why don't you stop explaining what you'd do in the classroom and just show us the lesson".

I was scared, very scared. But I wasn't that scared. So I just said in as flippant a manner as I could "Well, I would really love to do just that, to teach this lesson, but you guys are just not responsive at all. I've never had a class that is as unresponsive as you guys". And so they continued talking in Korean and I continued smiling and trying not to look too crazy. Finally, they told me, they liked my idea for my lesson and that I could go.

Normally, I might leave such a situation feeling very disturbed but the mood in the room was not a sombre nor a bored one. Somehow, my smile and my body language and my brazen way of telling them that, they are just not at all like the 19 to 23 year-old Korean students that I would be teaching, had touched them. They were all smiling and looking decidedly not bored.

I left that interview feeling elated. I had touched these men and made their day a little less tedious. About six hours later I got a txt message:

can u come to the SSC on monday? u have to make the contract. prompt reply please
I love my phone!

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