Monday, February 21, 2011

Dorm Parents

About every four to six months I’ve been in Korea I’ve been thinking about where I’m going to go next, whether I’ll stay in Korea at all, etc.  I’m constantly on my toes, evaluating and re-evaluating my current work situation and whether or not a change should be necessary at the end of my contract.  This has caused a lot of stress for me in the past, making it that much harder for me to be content with my current situation and be thankful for the blessings I have.


My last workplace really tired me out.  I felt like a commodity rather than a valued employee.  I was exhausted, and not keen on moving anytime in the near future.  Furthermore, uprooting TheFry from the nursery school he had become attached to, as well as the teachers and friends that he had grown to love, was extremely difficult for me emotionally.  I didn’t want to have to do that again for as long as possible.


As it turns out, my current school is opening a dormitory for students in the church building next door from this coming semester (which starts on March 2).  Knowing that the church building contains 2-bedroom suites, I suggested to my boss that PapaFish and I be the supervisory “dorm parents”.  That way the school wouldn’t have to hire new staff, and there would be both a male and female adult present to care for the boys and girls, respectively.  Furthermore, I knew that the two-bedroom apartments would cost the school half of what they were already paying for mine.  The proposal was a win-win situation for both the school and my family – the former which would save money, and the latter would have more living space.


Well, I’m happy to say that my boss and the school board accepted my proposal, and in fact we’ve already  moved into the new place!  It’s quite a spacious apartment – much more so than our last two apartments in Korea – and has a large bathroom with a proper bathtub.  There’s a free public laundry facility in the church building, and it even has a dryer (but not the kind we’re used to in the U.S. – this one takes 3 or 4 hours to dry clothes, I’m told).  We’ll have a proper-sized fridge (we had a mini fridge before) and I think we won’t have to pay utilities for our apartment.


With the huge bonus of the apartment, which I never thought I’d get as long as I was in Korea, I’m also pleased to announce that I’ll receive quite a boost in my salary, depending on how many students officially sign up for the dorms.  Right now that number is estimated at six, but it could be eight by the time the new semester starts next Wednesday.


Because of all these bonuses, and in order to be fair to the students I’m starting out the school year with (both in the dorms and also my students at the day school), I’ve decided to extend my contract until the end of the school year, which is the end of February 2012.  I’m hoping (and praying!) that the dormitory situation will bode well for my school.  We’re almost doubling our student population this school year, but it’s hard to predict how long this success will last, especially as the school starts adding middle and high school grades, because the competitive nature of middle and high school education in Korea can be somewhat fierce, and our school will probably have to make some changes to keep our students on par with their public school peers.


That said, PapaFish and I are happy with our decision, and feel that we have found a real ministry here.  I am looking forward to really getting to know my students.  PapaFish is looking forward to birthday parties and “family” games.  TheFry is enjoying running circles and figure eights in the living room, and when I informed him today that there would be big brothers and sisters living near us, he shouted “Yeah!”


Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we plunge head-first into this new and exciting adventure, that we would do well by our students, that we would learn a lot from them, and vice versa, and that our family will be strengthened through our work.  We are simply awed and amazed by this blessing that we never could have imagined!