Discussions on the Gwangju EPIK teachers Facebook page generally start out with people complaining about something, then others tell them to stop complaining, then the thread is deleted. Yesterday there was uproar about a letter the Education Office had sent to our schools telling our principals that we are not allowed to leave school early during term time, even if everyone else has already headed home.
Naturally this caused outrage and led to a sometimes heated, sometimes entertaining, often ridiculous dialogue between a good number of EPIK teachers. The thread was later deleted, and due to the nature of some of the comments I can understand why.
My personal view on the matter was that the complaints were unnecessary. The agreement was that we work from 8.30 until 4.30. If we can go home earlier then it’s a bonus. If I’m forced to desk warm in an empty school then I’ll find something to fill my time with, or I’ll have a nap. Sorry if that makes me look unprofessional to our employers but that is the reality of it and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Some people were angry claiming that it is blatant discrimination. They didn’t mind desk warming, they minded the Education Office stating that we weren’t allowed the same privileges as Korean teachers. In other words, they wanted equality.
I, on the other hand, would hate being treated with equality. My co-workers have to attend meetings, do yard duty, create, monitor and assess exams, not to mention homeroom teaching responsibilities. The past two and a half weeks I’ve taught very few classes because it is exam period. I spend my time planning for winter camp, day dreaming, taking pictures, learning Indonesian, and exercising to stay warm. My co-workers are stressed to the eye balls running around like lunatics because they’re so busy. Equality is a no-no for me.
I do have complaints about the EPIK program, but this really isn’t one of them.