Location: Kansai International

Well it's been a fun trip to Japan and now it's time to go back to the US. Osaka was a fun, creative city. The fashion was amazing and I was awed by the bike traffic. I spent some time by the Yodo river one day, had some excellent sushi and delicious udong. On Tuesday I took a train to Kyoto and met up with Denise (Reiko) and the group she was traveling with. They had just come from taking the Buddhist precepts at Hokyoji Monastary and had spent a week in shesshin, an intense practice session based on the monastic schedule. The leader of group, Tahaiku, was gracious enough to let me go on pilgrimage to the temples of Kyoto with the group. At one of our meals I found out that the group had a very powerful experience. In the 700 year history of the Monastary they were the only foreigners to take the precepts at the Monastary.

I have some more pictures up in my web album.

Now I am waiting at Kansai International to board my flight back to the US.


Why AM I in Japan?

Location: After Some Sushi

Okay, here's the deal:

Everything was going fine in Seoul until the end of January. At that time the man who hired me, supposedly, contracted a stomach ulcer. He resigned and a new man was brought in. At this point the new "boss" proceeded to threaten our job security and basically be an all around... insert your own creative expletive here. He offered an "out" from my year long contract. Which I promptly accepted. Unfortunately, he (the new boss) had absolutely no authority to make this offer. I found this out in my talks with the Principal of the school. Somewhat embarrassed, I decided to stay, mainly because I thought the principal was a good woman and I realized the power lay with her and not the new guy. He would just be a slight nuisance I had to put up with.

Another major point of the "new regime" is that my job function changed. Instead of being there to help develop an acting/theatre program for young children it shifted to: Kindergarten Teacher. While there is much honor and necessity in being a kindergarten teacher that is not what I came to Seoul to do or be. Quickly the incentives for being Seoul are diminishing at this point, which would be about March.

March arrived and with it so did the new school year. This brought in 3 new teachers in addition to the other 3 that were already there. There had still been no meetings about how to run the school and organization was nil. As the month progressed it became apparent that the Administration was basically extorting the other teachers in order for them to change the contract that they had signed into something more "beneficial" for the school. I was being treated well, mainly because I had the bulk of the classes. So I was slowly becoming infuriated, and with no desire to continue working there.

Something else to keep in mind. This school is a private school and the tuition is quite high. A year's tuition at the school (which is a preschool and kindergarten) would easily cover a standard college education in South Korea and probably rent too! Where was all this money going though? The facilities where not in excellent shape. Wall paper was torn, mosquitoes where flying around, somehow there was never enough paper towels or paper tissues. All forgivable and not a BIG deal, unless you take into account just how much the admin was charging. And it was never put into the school. Repeatedly I told the admin that there was no reason for me to be there. I walked out, telling them to get their act together. Finally, they withheld the passport of one of the teachers at the school whom they had been employing illegally. After almost going to the police in a (probably vain) attempt to get his passport back I decided to turn in my 2nd and final letter of resignation. The teacher did end up getting his passport back, but a day late and at the last possible minute.

As far as resigning goes.... I could've just left and pulled a "midnight run". And that probably would've been the most lucrative thing to do. However, I wanted somehow to help the school get on the right track. If I simply ran away, in their eyes I would be the bad guy.Some irresponsible foreigner who couldn't take living abroad and who just ditched them. Even though I realized I probably wouldn't be paid for the final month, largely because of the immaturity of the administration, I decided not to run away and instead turn in my resignation and let the school know as clearly as possible why I was leaving. This is mid April.

After I turn in my letter the principal never talks with me again. I continue teaching my classes hoping in 2 weeks they can find another teacher. They do not. And true to form they have not paid me yet for that final month.

There are of course many other details that could be filled in but those are the major points as far as the businesses aspect of me working in Seoul goes.

The next post will be alot more... fun ;)

Made It!

Location: Osaka

Just a quick update. I made it to Osaka this afternoon and right now I'm about to take a much needed rest. Everything went fine.... well there was one minor hiccup. I'll write all about after some tea and sleep, and maybe some food... and..and .and.