Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is there a Bane to being Brown?

To me, teaching English has never been an option as one of my career paths. But the winds of change has carried me to that direction. I now set my eyes on becoming an English teacher to Korea. I search the web for job opportunities as my resume would allow me to competitively apply for a teaching post. Or so I thought...

"Native English speakers ONLY!", "No experience necessary.", "...finished two- or three-year course."

These are ubiquitous requirements in recruitment websites. It struck me as silly to construe skin color and linguistic ability to positively covariate with each other. I always thought that "what is accent if the brain is not present?". Teaching the language, after all, is more than the rules of grammar, idioms, and accent. It is imparting the necessary skills to understand humanity, to further educate oneself, and to empower others.

It has been obvious that in Korea, competence and skill are overshadowed by skin color. I am brown, yes. But that doesn't mean that I can't be on equal footing with 'white' teachers a.k.a. backpackers who are the only ones eligible to apply for an E2 visa. There is a glaring racism in this issuance policy, which was said shall be scrapped at the end of the year. I hope it would be the case. It's high time that Korea opens its education market to Asian English teachers not only because of economy, but also because of quality.

Koreans have been trying to learn English for decades, but still they are finding the language difficult to grasp. There should be some structural problems that make effective learning elusive. It could be that 영어 학원(language academy/institute) are hiring ineffective teachers as reflected by their list of "qualifications": No experience needed, O.K. if not boarded, white. Great. Those are really material.

I'm bitter but not because I'm brown. I'm bitter because the country I consider my second home does something that is discriminatory (refer to WTO MFN agreement), illogical, and unabashedly racial.

I hope the wind of change blows again...but not towards me...but towards education policy makers in Korea.

Turning a New Leaf

For me, tearing a calendar leaf is very symbolic. It means that I cannot recover the lost days. And in those days are moments to remember, moments that you would try exchanging your present with. I didn't care less about months flowing by when I wasn't yet working. This sensitivity was just exacerbated by my days at the office. Now, my point of reference for the changing days and seasons is not the rising and setting of the sun. I now look forward to the pay day. Before, I wanted to halt the ticking of the clock for it means growing old, losing something you've known to be valuable, and venturing to the uncertainty of the future. Now I wanted the clock to tick faster so I could go to the bank itching to enter my PIN. Well, in the future, that's the only thing that's certain: you get money bimonthly. I was conditioned by circumstances to be materialistic and I'm hating it. I know that time is more than this, that the future could promise more than what is written on my paycheck. Yet, this is how I think now. Time, run fast so I, too, can run fast to the bank. Heck.

...and the Book of Moments continues to loose its leaves...