Monday, February 20, 2012

Are You Earning Respect or a Paycheck?

I realize I work as an English teacher in a third world country and not a 1960s era US advertising agency, but sometimes I wonder what the difference is. I’m required to wear a skirt. Wage discrimination is by skin tone, not gender, and to my benefit, but it’s there. And being a feminist, well, I’m not the majority here. It’s just as well I didn’t get my photo share site working, it’d be a liability to my employment right now. Obviously I’m not going to elaborate on a public blog. Same reason post about Thai scout camp is indefinitely postponed. I took paper notes. Not many white girls attend those. I enjoyed the camp for the most part, and the students enjoyed my presence. Especially the red-bracelets. I’m glad I could be there for them.

American Teacher Barbie, I’m not blonde, but I’ve got the right accent and I am pretty cute. Throwing out my mascara was hardly a stand. And I ended up buying more. It never actually helps, especially in this humidity. Last week, I was trying to help a student and I was wheeled over into a desk that is not my own to be filmed for local TV, all the white teachers in one block of desks, working their magic to teach listening and speaking. Yep, I am Barbie. I didn’t get to help that student.

It’s been awhile since I posted. You may or may not be aware that I’m trying to be more guarded, and simultaneously exploding on to the internet to try and keep my outward cool while appearing to be productive. Gee, when did you start posting so much? Well, I said I’m playing my cards even closer than usual. I should probably save that. It’s a junk hand any way. But I’m sure the Terror Warning and Iranian bomb bozos didn’t help matters. For the record, you’re not required to call the Embassy to tell them you’re ok. And I am not a government official.

I won’t fully explain the incidents leading me to ponder the question, am I working for respect or a paycheck? But I’ve realized I’m working for a paycheck right now. I enjoy having housing, food, etc., but I know few people that can feel happy when they aren’t earning respect. Real respect, not the OMG your skin is SO WHITE respect. I value respect and honesty. And I’m currently mastering deception and falsehoods. How do I even find room to respect myself? Well, I’m doing the best I can. I try to remind myself that just last week I earned my 5-year teacher’s license. But I spent five years just to get the 2-year, and my home state just passed legislation against labor unions. I’m in a situation where schools on both sides of the ocean want two years of experience, and my first year doesn’t ‘count.’ In many situations my current experience doesn’t ‘count.’ Hey, this isn’t about the paycheck this is about respect. And I am Teacher Barbie in a world disbanding unions and dumbing down education.

Like everything else, I will push through. Many people have to compromise respect to put food on their table, and like I’m one to complain when I have a passport, a paycheck and my resume to date. I’ll find a way, even if it’s not the most traditional one. That’s what I do. I am the ringleader. And I like to take my circus on the road. No one will get that reference.


  1. I really enjoyed the post Jenny. And your right, I did not get the reference. But more importantly, I wish we lived in a world that treated people who made the world a better place better. Teachers, Nurses (Both male and female), (there are others but that's just what comes to mind at the moment) people that work to make the world a better place, people who can and do make an impact on the world should be treated like rockstars. I have a great deal of respect for those kind of people. I often struggle with what my legacy is going to be. What will I leave behind, will I be able to pass into the great unknown and know for sure if I left the world a better place then I left it? I'm doing my best but I don't think those that work for the benefit for others every day need to consult if they are doing this for the right reasons. I think teachers like you, who work hard and take it seriously have a surety of purpose that I am jealous of. - Jonas