Sunday, October 7, 2007

Startling job offer, round two

This job offer isn't as startling as the original startling job offer, but it's much better. Handong has some kind of mysterious program called the Business Incubator which encourages small businesses by Handong students. One such small business is Handong English Camps. They have been commissioned by the city of Pohang to educate a bunch of kids in basic English. Most grade school kids in Korea take English the way that most American kids take Spanish, or something else. The push to actually learn English is much greater, though. Many parents with money to spend will send their kids to special English schools on the weekends. For those who can't afford expensive English schools, the city of Pohang has a special program. They pay Handong English Camps decent money to give the kids some booster English. They needed some extra teachers, and pay startlingly well.

I was asked to apply, and was enticed by the good pay of 350 kilowon per month, which (as of this instant, US$ is very unstable right now) is $382. The workload is very light- the camps are only on Saturday from 3-6PM, and the staff gets there about half an hour early and stays 30 minutes late. I'm told the after-time will become less and less as the program gets into full swing and there's less to sort out in meetings afterward. Call it 4 hours, anyway, so 16 hours per month, which makes it about $23 per hour!

I did it this weekend, and it was pretty good. We(the other new teachers and I, all 3 from LU) weren't teaching yet, instead we evaluated the kids for a verbal exam. This let us get a feel for how much English the kids knew. It ranged from zero to conversation level, though most were in the 'poor' range, which is to be expected from kids that have only had 2 years of English classes. Next week, we will actually be teaching. Because it's the first week, it will be mostly icebreaker games, etc. I've been assigned to reading, which I think will be great.

However, I haven't yet mentioned the other half of this business. The people that run it are rabid Christians, and want to get as much Truth into these kids as possible, which is just great. I look forward to it.

I've already been doing some English tutoring for the past two weeks, in a different deal. There is a older(40+) gentleman on campus-on my floor, actually- who is here for the purpose of learning English. He is a pastor at a church outside Seoul, and has a vision for international ministry. He still pastors his church, even though HGU is 3 hours away from home. He drives home every weekend, preaches, spends time with his family, and drives back. He's very dedicated. I'm just doing conversation practice with him. Many Koreans, I've found, have pretty good English reading/writing skills, but the speaking and listening aspect is very difficult for them. There are just so many people trying to learn English in Korea that there just aren't enough native English speakers to practice conversation with. He's paying me 10 kilowon an hour to practice English with him, 3 hours per week. Often times its kind of awkward while we try to find something to talk about because we don't have much common ground. I'm a 20 year old American student, and he's a 40+ year old Korean pastor. However, the other day I started asking him about the history of the church in Korea, and he had a lot to say. I learned a lot. In the olden days, before 1400AD(if I recall correctly), Korea was all Buddhist by mandate from the governing body. Aroudn 1400 they switched to Confucianism, then shortly thereafter(100 years?), switched back to Buddhism. Buddhism stuck since then. Around 1800, Catholics landed in Korea and worked on some missionary work, with mild success. A few decades after some Christians showed up too, and had about the same amount of success. Not a huge conversion, but they weren't being run out either. Slow going all around. During the Korean war, American involvement in Korea spiked, and the Christian church took off. Denominations are more prominent in Korea than in the US. My pastor friend is a Presbyterian, while I gather there are some Methodists around, and of course the giant on-fire-for-God biggest church in the world in Seoul and those up the same alley. I don't think that on-fire-for-God has a denominated yet. I'm glad, labels never help anything except in a workshop. It was interesting to hear about the history of the church and Korea.

In news not related to english teaching or the Korean church, there is nothing new. Statics is hard. Reinforced Concrete Engineering is over my head. Everything else is easy enough. Intercultural Studies is consistently interesting/entertaining. In the last class we took the Meyers-Briggs type indicator. I've taken it twice before in high school. First time around, I got INTJ(Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). I was super-smug about it because this typed is nicknamed 'the Mastermind', which I thought was a cool at the time. I later took it again and got ENTJ, the same except I took it in my senior year and become extroverted, hence the E. This round, I was again one letter changed, to ENTP. The P is 'Perceiving'. To be honest, I don't have any idea what the difference between judging and perceiving is supposed to be. The way that the short documentation explains it makes it sound like to-may-to vs. to-mah-to to me. Either way, the score indicator was low for that one, so I'm 'just barely' perceiving over judging. My 'thinking' score (vs. feeling) was a 9, the strongest possible. Take that, touchy-feelie accomplish-nothing liberal people. I am excited about my new rating, as ENTP is called 'The Visionary/Inventor'. Neat.
It's always interesting to read the little profiles of the personality types. However, it's always easy to read a happy description of what someone says you are, and all to happily accept it because it sounds nice. Illogical confirmation bias at work. For example, several of the traits mentioned in the ENTP profile struck home for me exactly, even though I'd never read the profile before and didn't aim for it. The same thing happened in high school when I took the test and got INTJ. So much of what the profilers say sounds nice because even if the trait isn't really flattering, they are pointing it out in such a way that it sounds flattering and attractive, even if it's not a great trait to have. They make being a jerk sound like a perfectly reasonable personality trait. It's right up the alley of personal responsibility- if you have an undesirable trait and a test tells you 'yes, you have this less-than desirable trait', we erroneously see that as an excuse- so it's not really my fault I'm a jerk, the test says I'm supposed to be one! Wrong! Tests like this measure, not assign. It's "Yep, you're definitely a jerk" not "No, it's not your fault that you're a jerk". Anyway, what was I saying about labels earlier? Oh snap. I shouldn't get excited about being labeled one thing or another, any more than I should get excited about being who I am every day. Oh wait, I am excited about being who I am. Whee!

Marriage and Enrichment is moving very slowly. In general the teacher just recounts stories and gives out tons of handouts. Everything so far seems like common sense to me. I don't assert that I know more than the teacher(either about teaching or marriage) but frankly I find the class rather unstimulating. It does, however, give pause for thinking about marriage. I guess that's the whole point, eh?

Literature is boring as usual, I'm still doing well. With the exception two quizzes where I didn't actually read the assignment, I've still got a perfect record. The latest assignment is play called 'The Glass Menagerie' which is too long for a general assignment in this class. Boring as all-get out, and ideologically abrasive. Hmm. I like that phrase. ("Sir, I find you ideologically abrasive! Good day!") I won't go into the story, for fear of being liable for giving my readers a myocardial infarction due to lack of brain stimulation. However, I have decided that literature classes are mostly the same no matter where you go. Pretend that you really like the assignment, never criticize anything('I don't understand why...' is better), and never let the teacher suspect that you in fact loathe classical literature. That is the recipe for success as I've found it in MA, TX, and Korea.

I need a haircut.

I shouldn't have come to Korea, from an academic perspective. Missing Tech Calc and AC Electricity(both of which are fall-only classes) is going to put me super behind..again.

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