Yep, that’s pretty much how my first week of school was teaching in Korea. What to know more about my first day? Then keep reading. Enjoy and have a good one.
F. M. Laster
“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West
Black Barbie and Her First Day of School
The first day of school, so exciting! Yeah, right! I kid, I am excited. So let’s discuss my first day. Moon Yeoung told me to take a taxi, and I have no problems doing that. So here’s the set up here with TITS. I teach at two schools. My main school is Monday-Thursday in an all boys’ middle school. My second school is a small elementary school on the outskirts of town. Moon Yeoung, bless his little heart, took me yesterday to a little drive-by of the school. The school is up near the mountains and old. Not sure what it was before a middle school, but it is surrounded by so much green. You can see the lovely Busan landscape and a river. This looks like a good place to get lost in.
I get to teach with 3 different Korean English teachers, along with Moon Yeoung and the head of the English Department who will forever be called HKIC (Head Korean in Charge). I had students from the time I hit the school staring, smiling, and pointing at me. Turns out that the kiddies were also all so curious about me since they heard they’d have a “foreign teacher” and boy did they get one. I’m foreign, female, and black; the Trifecta of Uniqueness. Well time to get this shit show started and for the talking monkey to earn her keep.
I do a trick that’s in all the Western teacher books and greet my students at the door. I’m starting shit early with my fancy American ways since this is not how Korean teachers do it. No sir, Bob! The teachers in Korea do things a little bit different. The kiddies get in the room and sit down when the bell rings. Slowly teachers leave the teacher’s office and head off to their classes. Once the teacher reaches the room, they go to the front of the room, place their stuff on the desk and face the students. The head boy (forgot the English name), he stands addresses the teacher and then the rest of the class stands and bows. The teacher bows in return. This is very, very formal and they also end the class the same way with a call and answer. Interesting.
Anywho, I do the basic greeting, saying my name is so and so and I come from Texas. We all make nametags and I get to practice fucking up Korean names. Good times. Now there were about 10 minutes left after the class and I decided to use this time for a question and answer time. That was a mistake. I’m not sure what’s in the water, but check out some of the questions these kiddies asked:
- Do you have a boyfriend?
- How old are you?
- Can you speak Korean?
- Why did you come to Korea?
- Do you have a husband?
- Do you want Korea husband?
- Do you have Korea boyfriend?
- Do you have child?
- Tell us about your first love/kiss!
- How tall are you?
- When is your birthday?
- Do you have a brother
- Do you have sister?
- Can I touch your hair?)
I kind of expected these nosy ass questions. I was a little shocked by the request to touch my hair. Clearly, Korea did not get the memo about touching a Black woman’s hair.
I learned some fun facts about Korean schools. There is no heating or cooling the hallways of the school. The heat will only come one during certain days when it is very cold. The same for the air conditioning. That shit only comes on very hot days. There is also no heating/air in the classrooms. I thought that I was going to have one hell of a winter and summer until I remember I teach in the English room and I can control the temperature. Poor bastards.
Also, we do not wear outdoor shoes indoors. When I come to school, I would need to change into some indoor shoes. It is considered very bad manners to wear your indoor shoes all day. Right now I am rocking a 3-dollar pair of bathroom slippers with no shame. Next time I’ll talk about Korean lunches; they da shit!