English Speaking Contest (Fiasco…)

Yesterday was the English Speaking Contest at my school, and to be honest, there was a lot of drama. After cleaning up and setting up my classroom for the contest during lunch time, the contest was set to start at 2:00. Some kids came early to practice, and Jinhee, my Fulbright cote, came around 2. Another teacher, the head teacher, also came to help judge. But just as the contest was starting, the Vice Principal made an appearance. Despite the classroom being clean, the VP claimed it was dirty (it wasn’t up to her standards).

So she basically made Jinhee get on her hands and knees with wet wipes, wiping up some dust. I went to help her, to which the VP replied “yes you should help clean.” In front of all the students, she embarrassed and lectured us, about the cleanliness of the classroom and about how Jinhee’s students aren’t doing a good job cleaning the English classroom.

After that, the Principal came to make his speech to start off the contest. But instead of making a speech, it became a lecture. He asked the students how they were doing on the English comprehension test questions Jinhee and I had made a few months ago together, and the kids had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out, Jinhee had sent the questions to the homeroom teachers to test their students on several times and had pleaded with them, but they still haven’t done it…so of course the students wouldn’t know what he was talking about. So he went on about how Jinhee has to properly check with all students, and he expects the results by tomorrow morning. Which is an impossible task, and not even HER JOB to be checking the students…it’s the homeroom teacher’s jobs.

So after that, she felt awful. After the contest ended, Jinhee and I were alone in my classroom and the VP came back. She seemed aware that it was the fault of the homeroom teachers, not Jinhee, and agreed that the English comprehension questions could be completed by next month. But then she also started lecturing Jinhee about the cleanliness of the classroom, and she finally lost it. She raised her voice and said that “I can understand about work that you are trying to teach me. But I can’t understand how you embarrassed me in front of all the students, and made me look incompetent like I can’t do my job.” She started crying, and the VP claimed that kids don’t know anything. They’re young so things like a teacher being embarrassed in front of students don’t happen, because kids don’t understand things like that. I completely disagreed.

It was weird because this conversation was happening with Jinhee and I sitting next to each other, and the VP standing above us. I was literally right there, and it felt so wrong what the VP was saying. Then the VP kept telling Jinhee she’s misunderstanding, they were only trying to teach her because she’s a young teacher and needs to learn. But Jinhee kept insisting it wasn’t a misunderstanding, and the VP kept telling her to come over to her and tried to touch her, but Jinhee quickly pulled away and was visibly angry.

The VP kept lecturing her and defending herself and making excuses, and finally Jinhee replied super sarcastically “I understand what you’re saying. I was wrong for my mistake, I’m sorry.” The VP picked up on it, and went as far as to yell at her and shout “야!” “Yah!” which you do not say with people you work with. It’s basically a phrase that means, “hey you!” and is used towards younger people that you don’t have any respect for. Jinhee was so completely insulted.

Things progressively got worse, because my school heard that another Fulbrighter will not be sent to my school because of the lack of a homestay. The Principal and VP were not happy about that at all. They really wanted another Fulbrighter, I guess because I spent the past 2 years working hard, loving the students, and doing a lot of the work that multiple English subject teachers should be doing.

They called Jinhee to the Principal’s Office and basically chewed her out for 10-15 minutes, interrogating, demanding to know if she had told Fulbright about the terrible working conditions here. She kept saying she didn’t (which she didn’t). But they wouldn’t believe her. Honestly, it’s true! The reasons they won’t send another teacher here. My school doesn’t have a homestay family. And my school doesn’t having co-teaching. They just wanted someone to blame I guess, which seems to be a common problem at my school.

One conversation I had with the VP really sticks in my mind. I explained to her that “If our school had a Korean English subject teacher to coteach with the English native teacher it would be much better.” And her reply was “But that’s too much work for one Korean English subject teacher to take on.” So it’s okay to put all that work on an EPIK or Fulbright teacher?

Life Things & Weekend Plans

I’m leaving school early tomorrow to go to the Super K-Pop concert in Suwon with Allison, my sister. After that, I’ll spend the weekend in Seoul 🙂 I’ve also been dong a lot of organizing and packing up boxes to ship home. I already sent two home, but I’m working on another one, and a separate box to donate clothing and shoes I don’t want anymore to a local orphanage in Gumi. Can’t believe school is ending in about 6 more weeks!


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