Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boundaries, Entry One

This is a post that has been bouncing around my head, in various forms, for quite some time. I thought I would continue to hold off for awhile, but this morning’s events changed my mind. I’m breaking my let a rough draft sit rule and going with the ‘here and now’ flow of fast blogging. Real time, without the whitewashing scrub down before publication later, just cursory revision. Since I cannot realistically cram all of my thoughts into one post, I will subdivide. Here is entry 1.

A line in the sand. Limits. Healthy, constructive boundaries.
Boundaries are hard enough to cultivate and manage, in a healthy fashion, in the Western world.
They can be damn near impossible in Asia, especially as a Westerner who wasn’t necessarily that great at them to begin with.

Now, you may say, oh well, that’s just their culture, you need to embrace it! You may say I’m being too rigid, I need to adapt, I need to give myself time to adjust to the culture, you sound like you hate the culture. Guess what? I wouldn’t be all gum drops and rainbows if I were blogging about my life in America, now would I? I call it like I see it, whether you agree with my perceptions or not, and they span the gambit of emotions. There’s more to life than love and fear, you know?*

Well I’m here to say there is a big freaking difference between ‘adjusting to cultural differences’ and letting yourself get walked all over. And frankly, I’m fed up with the latter, be it here or at home, and cultural misunderstanding is no excuse. People get walked all over in their own culture all the time too. And while it may be a little more Western to stick it to the man, the point remains.

One of my coworkers quit this morning. He has yet to leave, he will finish teaching the rest of the month. However, said individual has decided the classes that he teaches where he has a co-teacher, he will simply dump on the co-teacher, because he is just too overwhelmed. Excuse me, if you’re working here another week and a half, nearly two weeks, and getting paid for it, I am not picking up your slack. And you sure as heck are not going to shuffle the blame for this whole mess back onto your colleagues. Frankly I wish you were leaving tomorrow and not getting your full month’s salary, Mr. Drama Queen. There is no excuse for the vast majority of your behavior.

You are not getting fired because of the tone of your skin, (though I was surprised you were hired in the first place because of it), you are getting fired because you cannot teach. You cannot adapt, and you cannot handle the fact that “This is Thailand.”

I pitied you, for the racism you would face here, for the mistakes I saw you making that I too, made as a new teacher in Thailand. I tried to be patient, reminding myself, “you did the same things last semester.” But I didn’t do all of these things.

I didn’t repeatedly call students a bitch behind their back in the office. I didn’t harp about how the parents run the school, the kids are spoiled and it’s not right it needs to change (you just have to accept this at any school if that’s what occurs). I didn’t shuffle my lessons off onto other people. I didn’t call colleagues at 7 am, or 6 pm to talk about work. I didn’t prance around the office proclaiming “well for this money, with this situation I will just leave.” Great! Leave already then!

I’ve had to adjust my standards of teaching professionalism since coming here, because the expectations are vastly different. But there are still some things you just don’t do. Heh, blog about it might be among them, but, today that’s a line I’m willing to cross.

*Donnie Darko: Okay. But you're not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account here. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can't just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!

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