09 September 2010

Escape from Wonderland

I've been reading the journal of a former ESL teacher in Korea (at archive.org since the site is down). She worked during half of 2001 at Wonderland hagwon, and her experience was horrific. I can only be grateful that I have been so lucky in my time in Korea.

Excerpt:

Well, remember Steve, the horrible trouble maker? Every day since September Eleventh he has been saying that he is Bin Laden, and asking things like, "Jane Teacher's parents, twins building?" while miming a dead person with an evil smirk on his face. While I believe that fourteen year olds are old enough to know what they're doing is wrong, we are, as a culture, told that they are not. And since I long ago realized that Debbie would be of no help in a disciplinary situation, I have tried for a month and a half to ignore Steve. Today, he and his buddies dressed up as Osama bin Laden and his terrorists. They marched to the front of the classroom and announced who they were. They proceeded to say things like "Die Americans!" and "Die Jane-Teacher!" while pointing their fake guns towards me and Melissa. I know we are supposed to excuse this behavior in children, but I expected that Debbie, or one of the Korean-Teachers would take the "Osamas" aside and talk to them. Explain to them that what they were doing was insensitive, offensive, rude, and hurtful. What I didn't expect for them to do was laugh. Debbie and the rest of the Koreans laughed like it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. They continued laughing as Melissa ran out of the room in tears. They continued laughing as I, shaking with rage, stood up and demanded that someone make them stop. They even addressed Steve as "Osama" for the rest of the day! How can they think that the death of thousands is something to laugh about? How can they think that "Die Jane-Teacher!" is funny? While I don't like it when Steve says these things to me, I can do my best to ignore him. But for Debbie and my Korean co-workers to think that the idea of my death is hilarious? It makes me want to vomit.

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