Pseudo Strike Day 5

It has now been a full week since the teachers at CPIS were supposed to be paid.  No paycheck today but we were told “maybe Tuesday or Wednesday” so there’s a slight chance it’ll come tomorrow.  I could go on about how I’m not doing any work with my students but that would be a lie.  Its too tough to sit here and just give them playtime for a whole school day!

In a surprise move our school officially has a new name with the same initials.  They put up new stickers all over the school changing the words “primary” & “school” to “place” and “society.”  We suspect that has to do with the inspectors coming back a few times over the past few weeks since we know our school doesn’t follow the guidelines required to be an “international school.”  (I would love to post the name but need to keep this anonymous while I’m still employed here)

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Psuedo Strike Day 4

We continue teaching without pay so have we continued teaching at CPIS in a similar vein to last week with minimal instruction.  I hate the feeling that I could be doing more for these kids but even in my short stay here in Korea I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself first.

That was one of the first lessons I was taught here from a more experienced expat.  “Koreans aren’t going to look after you.  You need to always look out for your best interests or they will just take advantage of you.  It happens all the time to Americans, especially at hagwons.”  I took my friend Hoho’s advice my first week after I found out about the first series of late paychecks.

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Today is Monday, October 7th.  We are scheduled to be paid on the 5th except when it falls on a weekend so today should be payday.  Last month’s check didn’t come for my coworkers and then a week later they got half with the remainder arriving the following week. I wasn’t owed anything that time since I was so new but today I should get my paycheck.

My last student left at 4:50.  I sat in my room and prepped for tomorrow.  Moments later my coworker, Colin, came in and asked if I had been paid yet.  After religiously checking my account all day I knew there was nothing in it but refreshed once more.  Still nothing.  We sat and talked about what to do for a few moments; some said we should have a sit in tomorrow morning. Show up to school and sit at the entrance until the wire transfer went through but we all hoped the payment would come.  I said I’d go down at 5:30 and talk to the principal if I didn’t have the money by then.  He left and went on to the next room.

The clock lazily ticked by as I sat at my computer creating an interactive Halloween presentation in Activ Inspire.  Even though I don’t have a Smartboard I like using the software and telling the kids its magic when they drag their fingers along the white board.  I just follow with my mouse.

Distracting myself for a few moments I wondered if this really would be the moment that I’d start looking for a new job.  If we don’t get paid today and stage the sit in then the parents will all see; surely some will elect to find a new school.  We would be sealing this school’s fate.

5:20.  I checked again, still nothing.  Nervously I realized my presentation was ready and wrote tomorrow’s morning sentence “I will come to school with my little yo yo.”  I included 3 of their spelling words and had invited them all to bring in a yo yo given their words.   Another coworker came in and we discussed how to get around the potential lack of a “letter of release” if shit does in fact hit the fan.

5:30.  My bank account was still drearily low.  I walked down the two flights of stairs to find my principal on the phone.  Waiting outside her open door she asked if I needed her; I said yes and she invited me in while finishing her phone call.  When she hung up I got right to the point.

“Are we getting paid today?”



“Maybe right now? The accountant is doing it”

Her accent seemed worse as she shakily responded to my inquiry.  I said “thank you, good” and walked upstairs to Colin’s room.  Entering he let me know that he got paid.  I told him I hadn’t yet but quickly refreshed the app.  I nearly screamed and danced when I saw the extra digits and commas!  I did in fact get paid!  Fencing tonight with Ben will be that much sweeter knowing I don’t have to start looking for a new job tomorrow.