Monday, July 25, 2011


One of the things, we, as foreigners struggle with in this country is communication.  Communication is not just about talking, but relaying meaning and many times, even though plenty of words are said, the meaning gets lost.   English, because we are teaching at an English academy (of sorts) is the language of choice. One reason, communication is an issue here, is that it so rarely happens. This Sunday, Kyle had to work. On Wednesday, he was told he wasn't needed, however, on Friday, the Friday before this Sunday, he was told, it was a possiblity that he was indeed needed. However, there was no confirmation.  Saturday, Kyle had to seek out the scheduler to find out for sure if he needed to come in and if so, what time. Last minute, has a new meaning in this country, or possibly this school. No one seems to talk to anyone, and no one ever seems to know what is actually happening, or who should know what is happening.  The director of the new high school on our campus, told us a story, of trying to find a key to the sports equipment room.  He asked director, after director, maintenance after maintenance to no avail.  Not only did no one seem to have the key, but no one knew who should have it.  Clear communication is severely lacking in this school.  The foreigners often blame it on the language and cultural barrier, but I think it runs deeper than that. Friday, my co-teacher, Cindy came into work dizzy.  She had a difficult time concentrating. Monday, Cindy was still struggling with the dizziness and had even fainted in her apartment the previous evening.  She made a quick trip to a clinic, which result in the doctor telling her she had some type of ear disease which often occurs in old age. (it was a wrong diagnosis she was later to find out)  She told our boss (in Korean, their native language), who then told the education department.  When a teacher was sent from the education department to replace Cindy for the day so that she could rest, we were told, that the education department had understood Cindy to be quitting, and they were therefore already looking for someone not only to replace her, but to take her apartment.  Cindy was horrified.  She didn't want to quit, she wasn't going to be permanently dizzy.  She hadn't in anyway insinuated that she was leaving, and yet, a search for a permanent replacement had already begun.  All of this communication had occured in Korean by Koreans, and yet the communication had been severely butchered. How would this information have been misinterpeted if it been communicated in English, I wonder?

Communication is a complicated beast, and when you add in culture and language deficiencies, the equation gets even murkier, making for exciting times here in the Village.

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