Minor Annoyances...and good news!

There are just a few things on my mind so I'm gonna air them out while I've got some temporary sanity.

1) Uhhhh, really John McCain? I smell something. Oh yes, what's that?!! It is the smell of.. **sniff, sniff** .. desperation!! It reeks. It is stinking up the entire country. You are making a fool of your fellow Americans and your Republican constituents alike. Ok, you're a "maverick", a rebel but this is downright foolishness and I demand you cease and desist!! If you were hoping to stir the pot, you did a helluva job, Sir. If you were also hoping to reel in some of the displaced Hilary fan base, I don't believe this was the right way to go since Palin and Hilary pretty much disagree on every issue. If and when your health decides to betray you, I think a lot of people (myself included) are doubting that this 44-year old governor from Alaska will be able to handle your duties. That's my primary concern. I can't speak for anyone else, but in my eyes, you haven't calmed anyone's nerves or squelched anyone's fears in your choice. And the fact that you have no idea how many houses you own is also despicable. But I guess we will see how this all plays out. As for me, I'm hoping his "strategy" (the loosest available translation of the word) backfires. And I will eagerly await a "debate" between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin...oh please please please??!! **giddy**

2) Had an incident in my other kindy class on Friday. So they're learning about different nationalities and cultures. Hooray! They had a nice little map with pictures of cartoon people from different regions of the world. Japan had a woman in a kimono. Cute. England had a man in stockings or something colonial looking. Oh, and India had a woman in a sari. But lo and behold, what is this in Africa? A half naked man in a grass skirt with a bone through his nose and a spear in his hand.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....more hmmmmmmm.....

About 3 silent moments of hmmmmmm. Now, I haven't been to Africa (yet). And I realize that there are some groups of natives that may still look like this and that is perfectly alright with me. The same goes for native Amazonian tribes or the tribes in Vanuatu in the South Pacific. The point is that this image does not represent an ENTIRE continent. So I went ahead and taught my classes. I didn't freak out and get angry. I wasn't actually surprised to see an image like this in a kindergarten given Korean culture and perceptions. But I did say something to the only English-speaking teacher there. I pulled her aside and said something like this:

Me: Hey Hyun. I saw that they're learning about different cultures. That's really fantastic! But I think your image of Africa is a little off.

Her: Oh really? Have you been to Africa?

Me: No, I haven't been to Africa, but it's a diverse continent, just like anywhere. This isn't the one image that should be associated with it. Maybe you should display more accurate pictures, like with traditional African clothes. A bone in the nose and spear in hand seems wrong.

Her: Hmmmm...I see. So, you're saying they don't look like this?

Me: Um, yes. That's what I'm saying.

Her: **no response, but looks deep in thought**

Me: Ok, I will bring in some pictures next week. How about that? Just so you can see what I mean.

Her: Ok. Sure.

Well, how did I do this time? I didn't pitch a fit. No no...I'm only offering a different perspective. It's not my place to rearrange this kindergarten obviously, but since I am Black and I'm teaching them, they should at least have more accurate depictions. Right? I mean, c'mon. No other country had representatives without clothes on...why just Africa? These early associative images only propagate ignorance. They even showed Egypt, a country which some folks just love to exclude from the rest of the continent, with regal garb. I also noted the bronzed skin tone for Egyptians whereas the other image was dark brown. I could get into this, but I won't. I'm just going to Google some pictures and bring them in next time. If you have any pics of traditional African clothing or images, just let me know. I may use them! :)

3) My Directors threw a hissy fit about my plane ticket home. Since I'm going to the Philippines for a week, I wanted them to pay for my flight from Manila to JFK. They kept insisting they didn't want to pay for it, that they'd only pay for a flight from Seoul to JFK. Here's my reason for pissivity - the Manila flight was waaaaaaaay cheaper than the other one!! They were bitching because it was expensive ($1500 for a 1-way) YET the flight from Seoul to JFK was $1800! I'm not a mathematician but damnit, I just saved you $300! And I'm flying into an airport which is a full 2 hours out of the way so give me a break! So, after 3 days of arguing back and forth, I actually found an EVEN CHEAPER flight from Manila to JFK for just $1000. They finally shut the hell up...and bought my ticket. :)

4) Yeah, my Directors are also playing games with my life. Turned out they stopped paying my health insurance back in January. My contract states clearly that they are to pay half and I pay the other half. So guess who has been steadily paying it every month? Yes...I have. All alone! And how did I find out? Going for a routine gyno check-up. I whipped out my insurance booklet and they said to me, ever so nicely, "Uh, Miss Joia...you don't have health insurance..." Words that you just never want to hear.

**leaning forward, listening intently** "Um, excuse me? Yes, I do. I pay it every month..."

Well apparently, my bosses hadn't been. So I went into work that day, madder than a raccoon in the daytime, and cussed them a blue streak. And now they will be paying me back 8 months retroactive for these shenanigans, about $400. Some Korean hagwon owners are just sooooooo sneaky!! You really have to stay on top of them because they will try to get over on you. If I'd never gone to the doctor, I never would've known that they'd just been pocketing my portion. That really pissed me off and it still does.

Alright, it's Labor Day Weekend back home and I know yall are GRUBBIN' so I'm headed to a BBQ out here in celebration! I'll be home October 11th so mark your calendars! That is the good news by the way. Hahaha. :)

Until then,



BlackGirl said...

A bone through the nose? Good grief. Why is this image still out there?... I've got pictures of Nigerian attire from my family's party in May. I can send you one if you'd like.

liligyal said...

Heya Joia!

I just wanted to say that I'm finally actually in Seoul. We're doing the orientation week this week and then it's off to our schools.

On a different note, about the school's portrayal of Africans, of course you did the right thing, and you handled it perfectly. The only thing that I would want to stress to you is since you are given an opportunity to clarify this VAST continent, even if just briefly, to these kids, I would make sure to stress and keep in mind that Africa is not a country. To think of it as such, even in textbooks is outdated and really pointless in 2008. You should bring in photographs of all kinds from different countries and peoples all over the continent, because there are surely hundreds if not thousands of ethnicities to choose from. It's awesome that you're taking this initiative though. Not many would or could. : )

Andy M said...

It's cool that you sorted out that situation. Koreans can have a very narrow-minded view of the world, caused by the Korean bubble that surrounds this country.

Also, sorry to hear about the medical insurance thing. I can relate to that. A couple of months ago, i found out that my boss wasn't paying into my pension fund, so there goes my $7,200 refund at the end of three years.

If only Koreans did things properly, instead of being dodgy tight arses, people could trust them a bit more (yes, I have trust issues with Koreans to the point of being paranoid and looking for their ulterior motive/s).

Mo said...

I'd try giving some african models as examples...and you cant deny their beauty or call them primitive after seeing the way they hold themselves and how attractive they are. Models like Alek Wek, Iman, or Oluchi Onweagba may be good picks but I doubt you'll find them in any african garb. Try looking up images of Bayo Adegbe's clothes (models in them of course, some are a bit non-traditional but you may find some that are). The only other place I know to look (and like everything else I'm heading you to its more pop culture and less traditional) is Nigiera's Next Top Model.


Fly Brother said...

Hey...thanks for taggin me before I had a chance to get you. I'm behind in hitting up all the people I've already linked on my site. The bone-through-the-nose thing isn't limited to Asia. Here in Colombia, where they have black people, one of the traditional Carnaval characatures is called an "Africano" (African), who is usually naked except for a loin cloth and black shoe polish all over his body. He aims a spear at you and makes all kinds of facial gesticulations, and if you don't give him some loose change, he'll hug you and smear shoe polish all over your clothes:


They insist this "personaje" is not racist. Anyway, glad you get the stopover in Manila on your way back to the states and I'm looking forward to photos from that lil sojourn.