Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Welcome/Going Away Party

Three of my friends are leaving. My friends have been the best part of coming to Korea and I know I’ll stay in touch with many of them and possibly meet up in other countries. One friend who is leaving soon asked me to organize a welcome/going away party because I’m fairly well-connected in this little town. 

Because my friends are from all over, I feel well-connected, not only in the town, but in the world. I invited all the nice people I know to a Vietnamese restaurant last night and I was pleased to see that all but a few of them were able to come on such short notice. The woman we welcomed is brand new to Korea and I was a little worried she might feel discouraged after hearing stories from a few teachers. But her school is one of the best, so hopefully, some horror stories over dinner didn’t scare her too much.

My friend, who is 5-months pregnant, works at the worst school imaginable and although I will miss her, I’m glad to see her go back to Australia, just for her own well-being. The school is called Wonderland and I mention the name so that, hopefully, this post will come up in searches and other teachers won’t make the same mistake of working there. The staff is verbally abusive and won’t pay English teachers for months at a time. The fact that my friend is pregnant out of wedlock brings even more of their ugliness to the surface. They don’t try to hide their disapproval or even pretend to be supportive. Instead, teachers yell at her in the bathroom doorway when she has morning sickness and continue to make ridiculous demands, such as telling her she must stay in Korea and not go to Australia to have her baby. My friend was informed by her Korean co-workers that several parents have pulled their children out of the school because an unmarried pregnant woman is a bad influence on children.

Anyway, if that story made any readers throw up, I apologize. Going out last night with all my friends gave everyone the opportunity to meet nice people and forget their frustrations. I first had some friends over for red wine, homemade chocolate cupcakes and Ella Fitzgerald music at my apartment. The Vietnamese food last night was exquisite, as was the strawberry-flavored hookah that followed.
Tonight a friend will stop by my apartment for knitting and watching movies. I think I might suggest we watch “Lost in Translation,” a movie about Westerners feeling frustrated in an Asian country. When I first saw the movie, I wondered how anybody could be interested in watching a movie that seemed to be about jetlag. Now I get it.

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