Co-Teachers, Cold Weather, and Company Changes

In a nutshell: The last couple weeks have been a general blur of change, both at work and out in the world. The last week of October had us welcoming new hires Kelsey and Jenny, finishing Open Class schedules, setting up for the Halloween party, being interviewed and investigated by SLP headquarters employees, and having staff dinner. I ended up getting sick that Friday and stayed in bed instead of going to staff dinner, which is our official hello to the new hires and goodbye to the old ones. Last week, we were busy saying our farewells to Meagan and Ashley, more observations from SLP headquarters, Kelsey and Jenny’s first official week of teaching, and I develop a cold sore on top of my other illness. I should also mention that graduation photos are this Friday, so cross your fingers it clears up before then.

Kelsey Teacher with Alligator Class for Halloween.

I want to extend a belated, but warm, internet welcome to our new teachers from the US, Kelsey and Jenny. Kelsey hails from the East Coast and is quite the experienced backpacker. Jenny is from South Carolina and is working toward a creative writing degree while she is teaching. They’ve been settling in quite well, at least from this outsider’s perspective, and we’re excited to have them at SLP.

They arrived just in time to help us set up for the Halloween Party we hosted for our IP kiddos on the 26th. I had volunteered a couple of months ago for face painting, which you might consider to be a bit overly enthusiastic, but that’s fine. I made some awesome room decorations that I stupidly forgot to take pictures of, but they consisted of hanging garlands of mini jack-o-lanterns and Jack the skeleton heads. Since I had an activity room, my Bear class went with Chad Teacher and Cat class to the Haunted House, Arts and Crafts, and Story Time. He was nice enough to snap a few pics and videos for me before they came to Face Painting. We had several painted Spidermen running around SLP, Chad was the Hulk, there was a pirate, a Batman, and at least half a dozen kids with rainbow eyes. (As demonstrated by Clara in the above picture.) I went as a paint fairy, and the blue wings I had bought for Fairy Friday back in Fall 2010 were finally put to use in Korea. Sparing you details of my illness, suffice to say it probably wasn’t helpful to be in such close proximity to little children and their hands that day, but it sure was a lot of fun.

Bear class saying goodbye to Meagan Teacher.

Saying goodbye to Ashley and Meagan last week was also quite difficult. Ash has been at SLP for a year and a half and found it hard to let go. The kids love her and continuously say she’ll be back. I remember throwing notes at each other in the office, scaring her in the hallways, watching Tangled for a girl’s night in, the wine runs to Lotte, the shopping sprees in Myeongdong and Insadong, and all the sunglasses she ended up breaking. She’s on a different kind of adventure right now, and I wish her all the best luck in the world, as well as my hopes for seeing her again soon.

Meagan spent a full year at Suji SLP, and fell in love with our little monsters in Bear Class. She’s resting up in Bali at the moment and will be back before her final departure after Thanksgiving. I’m really going to miss hearing her cackle and our telepathic conversations at work. I’m also going to miss her yelling during the afternoons, even if it’s a little odd to miss something like that. I remember a hilarious ride home in a couple of taxis, her Grinchy finger impressions, sharing funny student moments in the middle of classes, Dolphin class calling her “Moogan Toocher”, her mad Hawkeye skills and her general sass.

Alligators saying goodbye to Ashley Teacher.

SLP headquarters has decided to invest in Suji SLP and make the move to own it. Now, the best way I can explain this is that we were only sponsored by SLP prior to now, operating as a privately owned hagwon that used the SLP curriculum. This has definitely come as a surprise and immediate changes are underway. My director will be leaving the school by the end of the year, so we are essentially welcoming a new boss, as well as the expectation to meet and adhere to new guidelines. I have never experienced such a drastic change in a work place before, so it’s honestly stressed me out more than I realized. (Hence the cold sore.) Some minor changes have already begun, with more prominent ones happening upon our return from the winter break in January. Things like having to wear name tags, posting rules in the classroom, that sort of thing. Our pay day is being moved from the 5th of the month to the 10th. SLP will be remodeled over the winter holidays. Our lesson plans will have different formatting. I’m sure once we get settled and acclimate to the changes, things will go quite smoothly.

Last but not least, it’s become COLD! I’ve busted out my down parka a couple of times in the last few weeks and it’s become necessary to have my ondol (floor heating) on for a couple of hours each night. I had been planning on making a trip to Seoraksan, but with the amount of time it would take to get there and back on top of the unexpected chill, that adventure is one to save for another time. Instead of venturing anywhere outside as the winter rushes closer, I’ll be spending more time in coffee shops in front of my computer trying to bust out a 50,000 word “novel” for NaNoWriMo. While I haven’t been writing every day, setting aside a few hours during the week to write with Jess and Jenny is going to be helpful in keeping each other motivated. Also, it’s election day in the US! I’m more anxious about this election year than I was when I first voted in 2008. I’ll be in bed when the votes start piling up, so I’ll have to check in on things before going to work.

All in all, I’m hoping the next couple of months go by quickly. Happy Thanksgiving to the rest of my Gussie Clan in the US, as well as my other family and friends. Safe travels for everyone and any one.