Payday…?

I came to work today optimistic and full of energy.  For a second in the morning I wondered what time my paycheck would arrive but then my students rushed in and the thought left my head.  I taught all day and had a great day.  My problem child had a successful day making  it two days in a row and his best week so far!

I was able to order lunch using nothing but Korean and enjoyed 새우김밥 (shrimp gimbap) for lunch.  It was such a great feeling to walk into a restaurant and not even need English.  I came back to work and my students continued to kick butt at telling time and are gaining confidence in writing sentences using their new sight word wall.

In between Kindergarten and my afterschool I checked my bank account for the first time.

Nothing.  It was only 2:40. Last month we didn’t get paid until about 5:30 so I wasn’t worried.

My book club was starting Judy Blume’s Fudge-a-Mania today and I knew it would be fun.  We read and read, and then read some more; they even laughed at the appropriate jokes!

Book club ended uneventfully and I checked my bank account again.

4:50.  Still nothing.

I began thinking about how glad I was that I saved almost half of last months paycheck “just in case.”  I asked a few of the other teachers what they thought and we all agreed that we didn’t see a reason why it wouldn’t come.  We’ve had new students almost every week for the past month and last time we didn’t get paid until 5:30.

At 5:25 my principal came around telling everyone to come to a meeting in the cooking room.  We were certain this was to introduce the new principal and have the official announcement that Mrs. Yi was leaving.  Jane (assistant principal) handed out a few stacks of books to distribute between the classes.  If they are buying new books we are surely back on financial solid ground.  New students, new books, new principal.  It all made sense right?

Mrs. Yi came in and got right to the point.

“I am sorry to announce this again but you will not be getting paid today.”

“Mr. Bae’s wife had a baby yesterday, I tried to ask him but could not.  He will try by end of week.”

We voiced how unacceptable that was and I brought up the solution from last time.

“Didn’t he sell a building to pay our salaries last time?  Surely that produces more capital than 1 months salary for 2 dozen employees?”

Silence.  My employees reminded me that we are regularly lied to and so I asked.

“Is that just a lie?”

Silence.

“You need to tell Mr. Bae that he needs to get us our money before Friday.  This is unacceptable.”  I continued.

Silence.

“Well I guess that’s it.  Is there anything else you have to tell us?”

Silence.

We walked out, got our things and left before 6:00.

“My contract says I have to work until 6:00; it also says I have to be paid on the 5th” said one of my coworkers as she walked down the stairs.

This week is getting more and more interesting.

“If you’re goin…

“If you’re going through hell, keep going”
-WInston Churchill

Winston Churchill’s quote describing World War 2 has helped me through some tough times before.  It has been one of my favorite quotes because it helps me put things in perspective.  When life gets tough you are the one who has the ability to improve it.  Don’t sit idle, keep working, keep going.  Act now.

The situation at my school is bad (even though the kids are great!)  We just heard from the principal that the school doesn’t make a profit and it has only remained open because our owner wants to be an businessman in the educational world.  The teachers were paid half their salary today, it was due last Thursday and promised to be paid in full today.  My first paycheck isn’t supposed to come until October 5th.  We aren’t quite sure what is going to happen but one thing is certain, nobody wants the school to close down.  We all just fear that it might.

The foreign teachers have asked for a meeting with the owner even though the principal feared that he would decide to close the school if he met with us.  That worries me even more but we still asked for the meeting tomorrow morning.

Its a tough situation to be in and the only thing I can do is push onward.  I’m contacting my recruiter and will be ready to interview again if need be.  I’ll look up some hostels in the area and hope for the best with this school but, right now it feels like we are all going through hell; especially us foreign teachers.  The school has our apartment, more than a few of us have minimal bank accounts and there is solid answer about when things will improve.  We are in a foreign country and barely speak the language and in many ways are powerless. I’m going to stick around as long as I can but I won’t be sitting idle.  I plan to keep going and get out of this mess.