Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

squalid room for teachers in Korea at KNUE

squalid room for teachers in Korea at KNUE

Nanjing, Presidential mansion

Nanjing, Presidential mansion

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge. Other great photos:

Indonesia: The Lost Photos

High School in Makassar

Today I spent a fair amount of time trying to find my Indonesia photos. I’m creating a hypothetical photography collection as part of a group project for my Library Science class. We have to do a web report and it’s fitting to upload some photos by our hypothetical Indonesian Vivian Maier.

I can remember certain photos and I’m hunting for them on Flickr or Shutterfly believing that those shots were safe back in 2010 when my account was hacked into.

Public transportation

Turns out most are gone. At least a thousand pictures of my Indonesian hometown and the places I visited are all gone. Now Indonesia was a tough posting and not one I’m itching to return to so getting more photos is not easy. Oh, and yeah it would cost an arm and a leg to fly there.

Is it too much to ask that people know how to do their own jobs?

From the archives – a sign of the incompetence of KNUE

What a day! I’m beyond fed up.

I drove to Springfield to get my diplomas and the criminal background checks apostilled (i.e. certified for my Korean visa). I rented a car and had all my forms, the directions, snacks, CDs, everything I figured I’d need.

The drive took about 4 hours. I hoped to spend 30 minutes in the Index Department of the Illinois Secretary of State. Then I’d go on to the Lincoln Museum.

I was pleased, prematurely, to see no line at the Index Department. I soon was told that they couldn’t apostille my background checks as they weren’t properly done, that they were no good because all they had was a few lines identifying me and the Notary’s seal and signature. I explained that that’s how I got them from the State’s Attorney’s office and that wouldn’t a lawyer know, wouldn’t the notary?

The woman who helped me was so nice and when my brother gave me my background checks I did say I was surprised that they weren’t more explicit. A layperson wouldn’t know that NCI meant National Criminal Index, for example. He assured me that this was kosher.

I kind of lost it as I wanted to mail these off today or tomorrow before I leave for a 10 days in Colorado. I explained that I needed them to get a visa to get a job in South Korea. I asked about getting new checks in Springfield and this woman kindly got me the address of the local FBI office and State Police office. By now it’s 1:15. She promised to try to “stay open” a bit after 3:30 if need be. She said if I had to come back, I could *get this* just go to their State St. office in Chicago.

Their what? I called both the Korean consulate and this Springfield Index office last week to see if I could do this closer to Chicago. Neither mentioned a State St. Office. The consulate just seemed to read some vague information from a paper. I don’t think they’ve figured out their own new system. Sorry, but I think they should. It’s part of their job and that it’s new, is not an excuse.

So I got my diplomas apostilled, but still needed more.

I first headed to the FBI, which is outside of town sort of in the cornfields. I thought for sure I’d missed the street since it was so far. Nope. Eventually I found this gorgeous new building. It’s surrounded by fencing and as I drove up, a guard came out to see what I wanted. I explained the situation and he said they don’t issue background checks there. He asked to see what I had and I showed him. He did say, those were the right forms and it all looked fine to him. Yet he’s not the one I needed to satisfy. The first woman and her associate were very nice, but not going to deviate from their first pronouncement.

Now it’s 3 o’clock. I wound up walking around town a bit and then heading home. I was in no mood for sightseeing, though the museum looks fantastic and the city has a lot to offer in the way of history and charm.

I figured I’d have my brother write a sentence on the form saying what they are and then signing them. That’s what the clerk said should have been done. I could then go to State St. in time to get them apostilled and mailed.

I drove back home some of the time sitting in bad traffic or crawling past construction. Not a real fun day.

From My Archives

This was written in January of 2011. Luckily, KNUE did help and deducted the taxes. But as per usual it wasn’t easy for them to comply with a reasonable request, one that most employers do automatically

Well, no one likes taxes, but when we’re rational we realize the need.

My complaint today isn’t that I have to pay taxes, but that my employer doesn’t automatically deduct them from my checks. My previous employers, including the university in Korea, always did this. At KNUE no deductions are taken. Then at the end of the year, i.e. now we must go online and pay them. The problem is first we need to go to the bank and get an electronic signature transferred to a USB. Then on between Jan. 15th and 17th (can it really be that there’s just one weekend for everyone in Korea to do their taxes?) we must log on and figure out our taxes.

The coordinator gave us bilingual instructions. Well, that was fine, until I took them to the bank to complete step one: getting the electronic signature. I learned from my bilingual seemingly on the ball clerk in Seoul, that my information was wrong. First I must sign up for internet banking and the website has no English. I don’t need to get the mysterious electronic signature. Since the coordinator has led me astray before I believe the banker more. So an hour later, I’ve got what I need and the hope that this weekend I can figure this out. I was told that the Korean IRS website is all in English.*

In Japan you they had tax forms in English. I’ve posted a query on an expat website to see if the Japanese IRS has English pages. In Japan they had information in many languages pertaining to taxes. The American IRS has websites in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. It does seem that a government would want to make this process easy to get more compliance.

This is going to be a major hassle.

*N.B. I see that there is English information on the Korean IRS website. Again, the problem is with my employer not the government. My apologies.

From My Archives

A Odd KNUE Weekend

I rarely get bored, but at KNUE a weekend easily gets boring. I’ve had to read lots of bland papers by people who really aren’t trying to work on their writing. One student blithely informed me that she doesn’t like writing and so she plagiarized. I asked if she thinks its okay for her students to cheat on their assignments that they don’t like.

On top of that I have to check them all for plagiarism. Several probably plagiarized because the writing is just off. One guy probably handed in his narrative essay from last term. It’s exhausting to figure out so in the end I wind up just giving low points for ideas/creativity and leave it at that.

The school is always dead on the weekend. Now I think winter break has started so it’s even more desolate. I’ve watched several videos and tweaked my facebook page. Last night I went to dinner with a friend. Finding decent food is a struggle in the end we gave up and got some fried pork cutlets and then went to a cafe. Finding good food was never a problem in Jinan.

I went back to the office to use the internet this evening, but the door’s locked. Then I went over to the library forgetting school’s out. It’s closed. So now I’m outside the library with my laptop using the wifi. Weird.

Guess I won’t get much job hunting done tonight.

First Letter of Resignation

When I quit my dreadful teacher training job at KNUE in January, the director asked me to write a letter that was more specific than the one below. I complied and will post it soon. For now, here’s how I bid the Intensive Teacher Training Program adieu:

Dear Dr. X,

After a tough 20 weeks, in which I found my colleagues, the curriculum and in some cases the students very disappointing, and after two weeks of normal collaboration editing articles with a colleague and working to build a new English teaching association, KEERA (Korean English Extensive Reading Association), I realize it would be crazy for me to return for more time at KNUE.

Nothing will change because old timers[redacted], tell the new instructors that they don’t want any “troublemakers, with new ideas.” Given what I’ve seen of many of the staff they don’t want any new thoughts or certainly no more work. As you might recall, one instructor, Brian, was so adverse to adding culture courses because he couldn’t or wouldn’t spend time developing *one* idea about culture. I was the only staff member to even attend KOTESOL or present at this conference. This is a height of sloth. It’s normal for professionals to want to discover new trends and exchange new ideas.

So I am resigning from KNUE’s IETTP program.

One more thing you might already have learned. You’ve got problems with a certain instructor who’s had at least two illicit relationships with married trainees [redacted]. If the truth came out to the husbands, I imagine you’d have a huge mess. [Redacted] but it makes working at IETTP unreasonable as a career choice. You do need to make some clear guidelines for these teachers. While adultery is not against the law, it’s certainly not professional or wise.

I thank you for the various help you’ve offered throughout the fall, but the first weeks when I saw that stupid movie script and was told that there was no way the old timers would allow any changes in their cushy jobs, that this was a bad job for me. I like innovation, quality, and excellence. Other people don’t. I’m choosing to find a situation where betterment is seen as desirable.

Good luck,


A Letter I Wrote

Jan 9, 2011

Dear J,

Last Tuesday is a good example of the unprofessionalism we endure at Korea National University of Education (KNUE). We taught 7 hours straight and then had a meeting. In 90 minutes the director expects to review some housekeeping issues, e.g. how to fill out our tax forms, and have us plan a new three month course for teacher trainers. Since the Min. of Ed. has okayed this new program to train teacher trainers (which my grouchy, domineering colleague keenly noted requires us to train people to replace us), we should be ready to start this new program in March.

  • They have no objectives or curriculum.
  • No idea what courses to include.
  • No new staff to develop this.
  • No partners in the US where the trainees will do co-teaching and take classes starting in mid-March.

Yet since there’s money, they’ll try to start it March 2. There would be two weeks of orientation here for the new group plus new students for the existing program. My guess is that this current staff would have to do double duty, beaucoup d’overtime. It’ll be an 80 hour a week job for chump change.

Quality control is nonexistent. I’m glad my foot’s already been outside the door for some time.