Thursday, July 8, 2010

After School EPIK Workshop

I'm becoming a bit of a connoisseur of EPIK workshops. Even though I enjoy getting out of school to go kill some time in the local education office, these events are usually tedious.

My first EPIK orientation featured a lady reading our contracts to us, and a panel of other EPIK people answering our questions with many "I don't knows" or "Ask your co-teacher when you meet them. "

It seems that being a regional director for EPIK is a terrible job since there have been four in the four years that I have worked here. Either that or it is a stepping stone job that leads to greater things in the world of Korean public school administration.

Yesterday the folks in Jinju were entreated to a new lady who gave us a nice power point presentation that featured some nice hints for having a successful time in Korea. Even though I understand where she is coming from, I'll share some of tips.

1. "You have to get used to the Korean work ethic. You know, you have sick days, but you know Korean teachers still come to school even when they are sick. Korean teachers only use sick days when they are really really sick that is our culture."
Ouch. Yeah that might be, but people in other countries don't skip school when they are sick because they are lazy, or that it's part of their culture, it is about trying not to spread disease.

2. "You know your Korean co-teachers are much more qualified than you are.
Nice way to make a guy feel welcome.

3. "You can save a lot of money here, some times Korean teachers wonder if you are worth all of the money that we pay you."
This quote was said with a picture of Scrooge McDuck jumping into his money bin. Now I'm not going to debate the fact that you can live a comfortable life in Korea or that you can come out of the EPIK program with more money than you had before, but 1st level ELT's only make about 1.9 million won a month. Converted to dollars that's about $1500, which is about what a manager of McDonalds makes in a month. Sure we don't pay rent, but it still isn't ALOT of money. She also made the claim that Korea pays more than other countries, that's not entirely true. These days EPIK's counter part JET pays 300,000 yen per month. With the strength of the yen that is considerably a lot more.

4. You have to participate in school events. Even though it isn't in your contract you are a part of the school family. You should go out for dinner with your coworkers.
That's a fair point.

5. You have to get used to the frequent schedule changes and appreciate how flexible your Korean coworkers can be when schedules change at the last minute.
Well this has worked out to my advantage in the past. I do appreciate how flexible people can be, but still it is a fair complaint to make.

To be fair the local guy in charge of foreigners in Jinju is a good guy. We have had two so far that can't speak English, but both of them seemed to be pretty good people people, which is probably the best attribute for the job. I really think that people in high positions in Korea could benefit from reading "How to make friends and Influence People." I've mentioned this before, but it get's kind of tiring to hear lectures about professionalism, then five minutes later hear a Korean history lecture that starts out with a guy saying, "Why do Korean people seem to hate Japanese people, but act so friendly towards tourists?"

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