I'm at the 1 week mark of the blog! Got home at 4:00 and have been relaxing and catching up with some personal stuff.
I'm just having some sweet potato pastries and a salad for dinner. One of my students came to my office today to complete a written exam, and he brought a box of the pastries for me. It's is common for Koreans to bring a gift in return for some extra consideration or kindness given, or when they are appealing for some special consideration. Students often give the teacher a beverage when the teacher has agreed to make a special appointment to see a student.
Only a few years ago, the practice of paying tribute to esteemed teachers and gift-giving throughout the education system was a systematic problem. Corruption and patronage are still big issues in government services and corporate life, which of course spills into political life. I hear that there are still teachers and principals who take bribes. Parents and student still bring treats and gifts for teachers, though they have generally pared it down to items with a store shelf value between 1,000 and 50,000 won.
The student in question was thanking for me for having given him some extra time to complete the lengthy written exam. He also pointed out that this would be his last semester of his program. When he mentioned that he would soon graduate, I understood that he wanted me to bear that in mind when determining his grade.
His grade actually ranked a high D, but I gave him a C. I had already decided to raise his grade a bit before he visited me today and finished his exam--I had already scribbled "C" beside his name on my grading sheet last night, in fact--though I had not been aware that he was wrapping up his studies at this university this term.
Actually, two students came to finish writing their exams in my office at noon today. They are both very well mannered, forward-thinking, pleasant and hard-working young men who have been making extra effort to launch their careers. The one I just mentioned is acquiring air craft pilot credentials, and already has the navigation and small aircraft licences under his belt. He got started the usual way, which is through his mandatory military experience. He hopes to qualify for passenger aircraft and work for Korean Air some day.
The other is already employed full-time in his chosen field, public relations. He works in the admin offices of my employer though he is only a sophomore student. He also does volunteer work and takes extra training. His job duties have kept him quite busy promoting our university's new campus and drumming up applicants around the city at this crucial period before the new campus opening comes up in January. He wants to work in television media. I think he's had plastic surgery and regularly wears cosmetics. He probably takes treatment to whiten his skin. He works out every day.
Both these fellows are good students but they do not specialize in English. As you can imagine, though, completing English courses and having English on the transcripts is very important regardless. I think they deserve my support, encouragement and coaching.
I like to see my students succeed, and naturally, any educational institution wants to see its graduates get employment. An institutions reputation and the access to government funding is on the line. Profs all play a role in career counseling and helping their students to do well, paying extra attention to the keeners. When a student is responsive, conscientious and grateful, I like to reward them.
I was especially grateful to these two today because, as it so happened, I needed a hand installing the gas containers for the gas heaters in my office. Besides, it was a cold day; the temperature had fallen below zero the night before, and it had snowed a little early this morning. The supplier had dropped off the full containers of gas but found me away from the office both times he turned up, so I had not gotten the empty tanks removed and the full ones installed. These students were happy to help me and they soon figured it out and the heat flowing. I was relieved because I did not want them to have to sit there for awhile in the chilly room. Nor did I want to work there for the greater part of the day without adequate heating. I made the boys cups of hot tea and I indulged in a cup of hot chocolate while I nibbled on rice rolls as they wrote.
The eye is all right today. I still wore a patch, because it appears that full blinking is still not happening. I'm at home, patch removed right now, though. I don't think I'll have to wear it on Monday.