Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Matt Perspective... one week into Gimpo

Those are some very amusing little blog entries Ambear has put out. Aren't they?
But I'm sure everyone is itching for a different perspective of the same experience. A perspective that's a little more masculine. A little more sweaty. A perspective from a disabled person perhaps?

First of all when you are disabled your armpits hurt, because you have to use your crutches for pretty much everything. So do your hands and wrists. And then one of your legs (in my case the right one) gets super pumped from hopping everywhere and the other becomes all small and flabby and weak. So I have one super leg that looks like it was taken from an action figure (Check out my Kung Fu grip!) and my other is like puffy raw chicken fat left out in the sun.
Koreans stare at disabled persons. I get asked quite often, especially by the children, what my crutches are. I tell them that they're my robot legs. Oh and you might think that being pushed around Incheon Airport by an 85 pound Korean lady (who is every bit as cute as Amber says she is. I just wanted squeeze her wittle cutesie wootsie eyeballs out) is fun, but no. It's humiliating. You feel lazy with no other recourse but to sit there and be judged by all those eyes. Those slanted eyes.

Sigh... It's hard.

Now, however much being a 'person with a disability' is difficult, it is nothing compared to the burden of being 'a person of colour'. Korea is one of the most homogenized countries on Earth. Meaning the culture and peoples here are Korean and anything else is weird and spooky. Like me! Every time I go from our apartu to work or from work to our apartu it's almost a guarantee that I'll have some elderly lady or string of little children following me most of the way. I haven't been called waygook yet, but I have been stared at a lot.

The classes are difficult but rewarding. I loves me the children, and teaching them English is a pleasure (even if they aren't so interested themselves). I have a Kindergarten class (K-3) made up of children 6-7 years old and I have four elementary classes of various ages. This technically works out to 30 hours a week, but just like our teachers in Canada, this does not include prep time, unwanted break time where we are stuck at the school, and so on.
Certainly I am enjoying the work and finding it much more rewarding than 'Personal Care'.
It is also challenging. The rules of grammar and spelling are so convoluted and nonsensical in English that there is almost no point in trying to explain anything. A student is better off rote memorizing the entire language. Watch my ten year olds trying to sound out words like "night" and "actually" is sometimes painful. After the school has spent so much time engraining the subtle difference between l and r it was a nightmare explaining the pronounciation of "Colonel". Hey kids English is weird!

It actually feels a bit imperialistic to me when I hear or see splatters of English in Korea. The infamous Konglish (basterdized English - also known as Engrish) is direct result of our own dysfunctional language structure. Expecting better is like expecting everyone who visits Korea to learn Korean (which is - I think - much easier).

I have a few really gifted kids. Actually, I met a new girl on Friday, her English name is Jenny. Jenny is from Abbotsford, BC. She has been living there for the past three years. I estimate she much be between nine and seven. So, her English is nearly perfect and her Korean is poor. Jenny is very scared. Me too Jenny.
I have a lot of boys too. My boy like to act like dinosaurs and throw foamy numbers at each other during break times. They catch bugs and squish them mercilessly outside. The Korean style of parenting seems to be a "go play in traffic" mentality, where no one care what the kids do as long as they buckle down and get to work when play time is over. I have been fighting my instinct to paddle their asses for throwing shit, fighting, making a mess, and goddamnit just being too noisy for Matthew Teacher's nerves. Supervision is pointless but still required.

Actually the mob of children at dinner that Amber spoke of was mine. It was Ryan's and Candy's birthday - both turning six. Neither one has any attention span what so ever. You will hear more about these two crazies soon, I can tell you that.


Sweet Mags said...

Being a gimp is hard... You guys are having such a great adventure and I enjoy very much reading the gimp, masculine perspective. Glad you are enjoying your teaching experience!! Yay.

from the mansion

Anonymous said...

I love hearing from a disabled boy....keep it up Matty!

Anonymous said...


You made me laugh, which isn't easy when I feel like poo.

ambearo said...

Who are you, oh anonymous one?

April said...


Tis I who is the anonymous poo.

Corinna said...

Hi Matt! I read the first part of the story and it was great, but then I got distracted by somthing shinny and lost my place. Love you lots