or Why I Stayed, and Why I Won’t Be Staying.
According to my calculations, I have 167 days left before I leave Korea. This isn’t the end of my contract (which is 187 days away), but I plan to use all the vacation days I am owed and book myself a one way ticket home.
I know there’s some confusion among my friends as to why I decided to stay at the school I currently teach at. They are consistently amazed at my work load and the issues I have with getting all (or in fact, any) of my vacation time.
I have actually been asked whether I think that this whole experience has been worth it. And yes, I will tell you, unequivocally, it has been worth it – worth all the time, the stress, the tears and the sleepless nights. But will it continue to be worth it?
I don’t intend to find out.
Why Did I Stay?
- Last year, I taught mostly second graders. I wanted to see them graduate.
- I was a much better teacher at the end of last year, and I wanted to progress further (and I have)
- I was curious to see what would happen next at my school.
- Up until that point, I’d had a string of one-year jobs, and my CV looks a patchwork put together by someone who can’t commit to one thing. Two years in a foreign country? That’s commitment.
- I needed to save more money. I’ve never been particularly wealthy in my life, and a large part of why I came to Korea was so that I could build up a nest egg. I did that, but I also knew that I needed more time to actually craft a financial safety net for myself.
- My students are amazing, and I want to teach them and see them grow.
I don’t doubt that I would have quit after a year if I’d been placed in a conventional EPIK position. The hours and the stress are worth it, for the students, for seeing our work develop into something better, and for all the benefits that we and our students have on each other. I’m lucky that the type of position I have lets me see that with such clarity and immediacy.
Why I Won’t Be Staying:
As I write this, the situation of the GETs in Incheon is tenuous as best. I’ve dealt with enough job insecurity in my life that I don’t want to deal with it in a foreign environment. That is not, however, why I am not going to be staying. I’ve no doubt that the office of education would find a way to keep native teachers at the foreign language high school. It would be bad press not to.
I’m not staying because I’m finally in a position where I’m able to do this:
There was a time when my job did all these things for me. It now no longer does.