One Week in November
I had submitted my application for the winter camp after being referred by a colleague.
I hadn’t heard from the recruiter, so I called to inquire about the camp. The recruiter on the other end informed me that I must not have been selected for the camp because he hadn’t received word from the camp’s director. I feared it may have been the result of discrimination that we often hear about in Korea. Recent headlines read: “American Rejected for Job Because of Being Black” and “Rejection of Irish Teacher Highlights South Korean Xenophobia”.
I had also applied to two other camps. One camp, I had applied to nearly five months in advance. Time passed and my hope for getting hired for any winter camp began to dwindle.
I pondered my options which included a last hoorah outing with my Korean-American buddy from elementary school which would take place in Seoul. I won’t be able to hang out with this guy for at least another 2 years. It seemed like a reasonable request, and since I would not be busy I agreed to meet him in the capital. Those plans all hinged on my availability however.
My buddy made flight arrangements and booked a hotel room whose reservation had to be cancelled forcing him to lose money. The reservation had to be cancelled because the recruiter called to explain that I had been accepted at the last minute. I needed to decide to either forgo the camp, $$$, and meet my buddy in Seoul, or accept the camp which had initially rejected me (I guess) and pocket the $$$. I opted to pocket the money although my buddy demanded that I pay for the reservation he made. Some buddy, eh?
Week One of the Camp (December 28th – January 4th)
I arrived for the camp’s first meeting. I grossly underestimated the amount of preparation I needed for this camp. In fact, I actually thought I would have time and be able to return to my apartment nearby to gather more belongings as needed. Luckily, I packed an extra pair of clothes and plenty of toiletries to last me a few days. After I arrived for the first meeting, it was go time. There was no time whatsoever for anything. After the meeting, the teachers ate dinner, and returned to the dorm to sleep in preparation for the student’s arrival.
I noticed a guy wearing a black overcoat who was sharply dressed. I had no idea who he was or what his job was. I later learned that he would be the camp’s supervisor and my boss for the next 3 weeks.
After my first week of teaching, I thought all was well. The Korean university student with whom I was paired was experienced and helpful. We did a great job although information was not being disiminated well among the teachers so much so that when we were supposed to have finished the 4 fourth unit, I was only barely starting the third. Nevertheless, my coteacher, the Korean university student priased my efforts to the supervisor.
The Start of The Sceond Week (January 5th – January 11th)
I was sick over the weekend. I stood on my feet for 4-hours while teaching the lesson on Monday. Surrounded by sick students, I felt weak and hoped that my coteacher would releive me. She did, but not befor going to the supervisor to say that I had my head down, and that I had used my cellphone. This was the start of a bad, very bad week.