An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: July 2005

Job Tidings

At last I’ve heard from the SIT people about the English Language Fellowship position. I was expecting to go to Indonesia, if I was chosen at all. Well, I can kiss Indo goodbye. Why? They’ve given me a job in . . . wait for it . . .


Yes, I’ve been invited to accept a position at a teacher training university in Meknes, Morocco. There, according to the SIT website, I will “help train prospective teachers at the CPR (Regional Pedagogical Center) in Meknes, and, assist local inspectors of English with in-service training during periods without classes at the CPR. Possible classes include: language learning theories, methods and approaches, intro to psycholinguistics, intro to socio-linguistics, teaching listening, reading, writing, and speaking, teaching vocabulary, classroom management, testing, research methodology and action research. The Fellow may also offer an extra-curricular culture club.” Whew. I think I’ll be able to keep busy! So, I won’t actually be teaching English, but I’ll be helping to train other people to do so. It’s a great step up, professionally, since there are many very fine openings around the world for teacher trainers, and having a year or two experience doing that certainly won’t hurt my chances in the future.

There is one potentially big problem, though. According to the SIT website, I have to attend a 3-day briefing in Washington, D.C. in August. I haven’t heard back from them about the dates of that briefing. I did find out that last year it was held Aug. 11-13. If that time frame is used this year, I’ll still be teaching in Andong (until the 12th.) My only hope is to convince my supervisor to let me out of my contract early. He can sometimes be very inflexible, so I have to keep my fingers crossed and my groveling skills sharpened! I’ll call SIT Monday night, Korean time, (that’s Monday morning, EST) and find out when the briefing actually will be held. Hopefully, it’s after Aug. 12th.

If I can’t get out of the contract early, I have two options, I suppose. One is to break my contract and flee Korea on a “midnight run.” Doing so would mean I would forfeit anywhere from $4000-$8000 in severance pay and pension refunds and my honor. I don’t want to do that. The other option is to stay here and find another job. I’ve been applying to various positions and one very possible opening is with an English academy in Seoul, which teaches elementary students after their regular class hours in public school. The job pays a potentially HUGE amount of money, upwards of over $4000 a month, in return for working a very tough schedule. For that price, though, I think I could tough it out for a while! Anyway, the company is having a job fair in Seoul on Aug. 6th, which I will attend. I’ve also asked my director to give me another one-year contract in Andong, should any of the new teachers back out. There are also a few other positions here that I’m pursuing, so I’m sure I’ll land somewhere.

So, this weekend I’ll try to get some packing done, but it’s difficult, not knowing exactly where I’ll be going. I suppose I’ll pack for Morocco, and if I end up staying in Korea, well, nothing lost. And, I have to start cleaning my apartment. Yikes, not enough time left. In the meantime, here are some tantalizing photos from Vang Vieng in Laos. More later.

Back in Andong

I returned on Sunday from my vacation and, as usual, it’s difficult getting back into the work routine. We’re teaching summer teen and pre-teen English camps for the next 3 weeks and then I’m finished at Andong U. Well, maybe. I talked to my director today and told him that if any of the newly-hired teachers backed out before arriving in Korea, I would definitely be interested in signing on for another year. In the past teachers have decided not to sign on for one reason or another, so the possibility of my returning is there, though unlikely. I’ve received a couple of responses to job applications, but, after checking the schools out more thoroughly, I’ve decided to turn them down–they don’t have very good reputations. I’m still waiting to hear from SIT about the Indonesian position, but the phone call and/or email never come and I can’t wait forever. At any rate, the next 3 weeks will be very busy for me and I doubt I’ll be able to get any of the vacation photos posted in the near future. More later.

Bangkok–July 21

Once more in the Big Pineapple, after an easy one-hour flight from Phuket, I finish my vacation on Saturday–all too short. I’m still waiting to hear about a job, but it seems like I may wait forever. Fortunately, there are many jobs to be had in Korea and in Thailand or Laos. My options are open. Anyway, Nai and I will enjoy our last two days in Bangkok. It’s cloudy here now, as it was on Phuket, and it could rain at any moment. At least it helps to cool things down. Today is a Buddhist holiday, so we may visit one of the main temples along the river tonight to partake in whatever festivities are going on.

When I return to Korea I’ll try to write a more extended version of my vacation, along with photos. I’ll also be very busy teaching, applying for jobs, and packing. I hope there are enough hours in the day to get everything done. More in a few days.

Phuket Island–July 19

Well, just a few more days and I head back to Korea, with very mixed feelings. I love Thailand and Laos, so I hate having to go back, and I still don’t have another job lined up. I’ve heard from only one of the Korean universities to which I sent applications, Sangji, and they turned me down, and the SIT people in the States told me a few weeks ago to be patient a little while longer–I haven’t heard back from them either. To say I’m a bit worried is an understatement. I suppose things will work out, one way or another, even if I have to come back to teach in Thailand or Laos for peanuts, but there are always loads of good-paying jobs in Korea, though the conditions might be somewhat less than optimal.

Meanwhile, Patong Beach, THE big tourist area on the island and one that was nearly wiped out by the tsunami, is moderately busy. Now is the time to visit here, before the hordes of tourists return. Prices are relatively cheap–we got a great deal on a hotel room across the road from the long, beautiful beach. I’m paying about $24 a night for a room with a view of the ocean, a balcony, swimming pool, and free breakfast. I would guess the charge would be closer to $40 under normal conditions. There still seem to be quite a number of tourists, but remembering the conditions last year at this time, I think the place is running only about 50% of normal. The destruction of the tsunami is not all that evident, but if you look closely you can see areas of construction, especially behind temporary fences put up to block the view. Frankly, it doesn’t look much different than it did last summer, so the folks here have done a remarkable job getting the place back together.

Nai is having a great time, too, frolicking in the ocean and experiencing other new things. I took him bowling on Koh Samui, his first venture at the sport. He had a blast! The first ball he threw was, amazingly, a strike! He was hooked from then on, though he had trouble breaking 100 most of the time. We went to Phuket Fantasea a few nights ago, a show which I detailed in last year’s trip, so search through the archives for a description.

All in all, despite worrying about the job, it’s been a very enjoyable trip. We fly to Bangkok on Thursday, then on Saturday I go back to Korea and Nai flies back to Laos. All too soon the holiday is over. More later.

Thailand–Koh Samui

I’m now on the big island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand off the east coast of the Thai Isthmus of Kra. It’s hot and humid, but excellent weather for laying on the beach or lounging by the swimming pool. Nai, having never seen the ocean before, is enjoying the place, too. He misses Laos but seems to be having a good time. I’m glad he decided to come with me. Among other things, he is fluent in the Thai language, so any communication barriers are settled quickly.

Samui is very built up, having such amenities as Starbucks, Burger King, etc. It’s a very busy, hectic place, but the hotel we’re staying at is off the main road and on the beach, making it almost another world. But, the beach itself is always packed with people. It’s a very beautiful, 10 kilometer stretch of sand, so it’s not surprising that it’s so popular. As usual, I’ll have many photos to post when I return.

We’ll probably spend a few days here, then head over to Phuket or up to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand before the vacation finishes on July 23. I still haven’t heard a word from any of the university positions in Korea for which I applied. I wrote to the SIT program back in the States and heard back that the U.S. embassy in Indonesia is really dragging their feet on filling the positions there. I did find out, however, that positions in Thailand, Madagascar and Kosovo had reopened, and I asked that I be put on the candidates list for those countries as well. Hopefully, I’ll get something soon. At any rate, I’m going to be really scrambling to get things together when I return to Korea. More later.

Laos-July 4

Just a short note to say the journey in Laos has been interesting, fascinating, enjoyable, etc. Reminds me a lot of Africa–very Third World, underdeveloped, poverty-stricken, extremely friendly people. I leave for Thailand tomorrow, hopefully to Ko Samui and perhaps Phuket.

So far in Laos I’ve been to a Lao wedding ceremony, eaten water buffalo and boiled crickets (bland tasting except for the sauce, not bad except for the IDEA of eating crickets), danced in a steamy, sweaty Vientiane disco, and ridden on a public bus for 4 hours from Vang Vieng. This posting is way too short to tell of everything, so I’ll save it for when I’m back in Thailand and have more time to spare for writing longer tales. More later.

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