Yes, I have another new foreign teacher to break in this week. I can honestly tell you that I have met so many new teachers from so many different countries that I had actually become a little immune to the excitement of meeting them. I ask the age-old question of I wonder what their personality will be like.. or what quirky little thing will they have. However, I was very interested to find out that the new Canadian teacher was in fact, Korean. (Born in Canada of course) Before he arrived at the school all my Korean Drama fantasies were running wild. I was picturing a sexy man with long hair… quoting lines from my favorite drama…. I thought to my self.. eye candy every day…. Yesss…!!!!!.However, to my surprise he looks nothing like the hotties in the dramas. He had very short hair, pretty bulky and ….. He actually looks…. Chinese… ? Now, mind you .. I don’t really care that he looks Chinese or Canadian, or European…I just care if he can teach. However, the Chinese folks see it differently. I thought I had problems when I first came to China because I was Black American… However, this Korean guy and other ABC’s (American Born Chinese) .. may have it much worse.
The locals do not like to be taught by foreigners that look like Chinese people. For some reason in their mind these people are not foreigners they are just Chinese people who speak English well and they do not want to pay so much money to be taught by someone who doesn’t look like a foreigner. Silly .. huh? The man doesn’t know any Chinese at all… although he can speak … English, Korean, French and Spanish….. (one more than me) ….. they are not really impressed. They only see an Asian face and nothing else. Even my school officials made an ugly face when they saw him… they had the nerve to say to me… ewww.. his face is Chinese…. I told them… He can’t Change how he looks… but his English is perfect…. remember what you thought about me .. long ago? That shut them up.
Kim, that is his name, seems to be aware of the challenge and has a negative feeling about it… but I have encouraged him to push on and think positive… I informed him that the Chinese love all things Korean… and that he shouldn’t have too much of a problem. I trust that my students have been exposed to enough diversity with the foreign teachers that he will be accepted.
I am proud to say.. that in my class where ,Kim sat in to observe,.. I introduced him… at first the students asked me… where is the new foreign teacher...(yes they thought he was one of the students) but after I clarified it all… they talked to him and accepted him.. like I knew they would. I have taught my students to accept people and not judge. I am happy to know that they actually listen to me….Yes.. I told you ..I will change this countries thinking one person at a time…. watch me.
I have asked Kim several questions regarding Korean customs and thinking… he agrees with me about the prejudices in Korea against Blacks and the narrow-mindedness of his country men. But he assures me that a lot of Korean Men are open to relationships with other nationalities and that he feels that a relationship should not be based on race or skin color but on mutual respect and love. The guy is smart and I think he will do well… once he gets over his nervousness.
I do have to say that I was very shocked when he looked at me and said…“Jo, I have never met anyone that is like you. You are a very special woman and intelligent. You are like famous and your outlook on things is so open. I like it and I am glad I will get to work with you this year.” I was honestly floored that he said that after only meeting me for a couple of days.
My job is to make sure the foreign teachers are taken care of and that they are comfortable here. But I think with some of the teachers I actually make a difference in their lives… I always believe that I should leave a big foot print in this world so when I am gone people will remember me…. and when I look back on all the things I have done… and look to the future of what I will do … I feel that foot print is getting bigger and bigger.
- Teaching Canadiana to North Korean Defectors (vtncankor.wordpress.com)
- K-pop Culture: Koreanization in The Philippines (socyberty.com)
- ABS-CBN holds strong 2012 Korean drama line-up (joon25.wordpress.com)