Where did my mojo go?

Sorry I havent’ written:  it’s been a bad week…

It’s so bad I was just fishing 100 won coins out of my piggy bank with a knife so I could go buy a pack of cigarettes so I could calm down enough to write and eat my last lentils.  I am wondering if this is how it will be in March, or worse, if I can’t find a job.

So I’d been vacillating back and forth about staying at my current job and commuting, because I was starting to feel comfortable with it and enjoying teaching a lot.  But then I thought I might as well talk to SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education) and get a feel for what they could offer me closer to my soon-to-be new apartment.  Which opened up a whole can of worms.

In America, as you know, it’s not uncommon to go feel out a situation and have a few interviews and then make a decision whether it’s the right move to make.  However, In Korea that wasn’t possible.  SMOE insisted on checking job references BEFORE even granting an interview.  Despite having an incredibly conservative recruiter who was discouraging all the way, upon receiving my resume and cover letter her tune suddenly changed to very enthusiastic and I was feeling very confident I would get a position, and that mostly I should just have the interview and decide whether or not that was a good idea.  Well, SMOE not only called In Kyung’s number that I left but also talked to the Vice Principal.  The next day a letter stating I wouldn’t be renewing my contract was shoved in my face and, shocked, I signed it.  A few days later my recruiter informs me that the list of applicants granted interviews was issued and that I wasn’t on it.  Sorry.

Great.  Just great.  So I must press forward and find a job I guess.  Okay, we will make lemons out of lemonaide and I enthusiastically look for new positions closer to my new place.  Only it is too early since, except for the public school positions, most private schools and academies place their adds just a month or two before the position opens.

Every single one of the few available I apply to I hear NOTHING back from.  NOTHING.

In Korea, a resume must be submitted before you even ask questions about the position – they won’t answer questions at all.  With every resume, a photo is required.  One look at my non-white photo, my Korean-looking photo, and that’s enough to not bother having the courtesy to even reply.  You can’t even get to the interview and wow them with your enthusiasm or looking a decade younger than you are or anything.  Profiled and screened.  OUT.

Korean war baby and all-around decent guy, Don, personally takes me to the owner of the company he works for, a long time friend, and we talk for a long time.  The company is an outsourcing franchise of another company that offers full-time employment, which I was also applying for, explaining that I would be happy to take odd jobs  until a full time position was available.  I at least got a short reply from them, but it was kind of one of those “don’t call us – we’ll call you” things.  Then, I get an email from Don entitled Too Bad You’re Not White.

Earlier, I had emailed In Kyung asking why the non-renewal letter couldn’t just be torn up.  Today I asked her about it.  Seems that despite hearing nothing but accolades about my work ethic, commitment, lesson plans and class preparation from others, the Vice Principal has been soured on me due to bashing by Mr. Lee.  The Vice Principal is extremely unpopular and Mr. Lee is one of the few people who will even give him the time of day.  That I asked for some rotton male student to be disciplined (who I suspect was a family friend of the Principal) was cited as being my fault.  Where was Mr. Lee that whole time?  Did he even attempt to step in and help?  No.  Because Mr. Lee doesn’t believe in communicative techniques to teach students a foreign language.  Mr. Lee criticized anything that did not pacify and entertain the students.  He wanted me to play movies with Korean subtitles and just babysit.  I couldn’t even include Mr. Lee in any of the lessons like I could the other co-teachers, because the students all speak better English than Mr. Lee…

So today I have no job because an old guy about to retire doesn’t like me.  That’s okay.  The feeling is mutual, worthless old sack of…

Lesson learned.  I have been beaten into submission.  But too late for me.  Today I am scared.  I’m in a foreign country with no job prospects because I’m not foreign enough. If I’d have known, I’d have played the boys movies every day.  Who the hell did I think I was, wanting to actually teach them something?

I can listen to those who are white enough or have credentials enough tell me not to worry – you can teach part time and build up privates  (and how do I survive until I build up privates? and what if, like Don’s friend, the part-time places won’t even hire me because I’m not white enough?)

Or I can take my free flight home and try and get a job back in the U.S. (which is not a very promising proposition)  Or maybe I can go teach in another country.

In the meantime, I look at the job boards every day, hoping something comes up that is viable – which means within an hour’s commute, that will hire an aging Korean that they can try and sell as a native English speaker…

It’s not looking too good.

The mojo I’ve always had is gone.  In retrospect, it started to fade about four years ago.  All the experiences makes one over-confident.  Really, I’m just replaceable.

The goal was to be able to work more for TRACK.  But without means of support I’m no good for anybody.


3 thoughts on “Where did my mojo go?

  1. I think I’ve read enough of your thoughts to say that you are sharp and tough and brave. My bet is that you find the job you want.

    Personally, I have needed just that sort of kick in the back end for quite a while. I am very successful by most measures, but I am still not doing what I really want to. I’m willing to give that up because I have young children, but before that I hurled myself forward and it always worked out.

  2. Can you reapply with GEPIK or call the GEPIK office and ask for a transfer to a different school?

  3. Thanks for the support guys, and if I really were footloose I wouldn’t worry, since I already live as frugal as a monk and don’t need much income. However, I owe I owe I owe. I send literally half my income home every month to pay for my student loans, my son’s student loans, an almost-paid-for credit card debt, and back taxes.

    I guess I will try and reapply with GEPIK at another school. Is a call all it takes? Or do I have to go through one of their recruiters. I know miss Bae isn’t too fond of me, since I was sharp enough to actually read their contract and find they had screwed dozens out of their full ticket reimbursement. I know it was just an oversight, but they could have at least owned up to it and done the right thing. Problem is, Anyang is really the closest assignment to my new place, and the commute is already 45 minutes on the subway and 30 minutes of walking…but hell, whatever it takes to eat I guess.

    What I really want is for everyone who’s been saying, “no problem – positions will open up” to be right. But we’re in the middle of peak hiring season right now and nobody is interested, and it’s a nail-biting, stomach churning thought to spend the next three months with an unknown future.

    How’s your situation, Comix_Trip? Any better? This being the casualty of school politics and Korean power structure sure can leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth.

    And I still enjoy teaching too.

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