Just when I start feeling sorry for myself, there’s a reminder that things could always be worse . . . . So my roommate, B., got fired today from our “hagwon” (private English academy in Korea). He’s been on the shit list at work for a while, however, so we sort of saw it coming. Or at least my other co-workers and I did. B. has a bit of the absent-minded professor thing going for him. He’s a really kind, intelligent, caring guy, but let’s face it–he can be flaky. I do think he got scapegoated a lot for nit-picky things, since there always seems to be someone at JEL that they’re trying to fire. BUT, I do think he left himself open somewhat for attack.
It really sucks for him, because he needs to find something to do before he begins his MBA program at the University of Hawaii this fall. Also, he recently started seriously dating a Korean girl that he’s known for over a year, and I know that his intentions with her are very long-range. So this kind of f*cks everything up there. One of the worst things about working for hagwons is the constant threat of being fired. I guess, theoretically, this could happen anywhere, but here it’s somehow worse, due to the minimal communication between yourself and your superiors and the very sticky visa situations. Hagwon work is stressful, although even with all my friends and I have had to put up with this year, we agree that it’s been worth it for the experience of living here in Korea.
All in all, I think B. is a stand-up guy. Even though we disagree on certain social issues (he’s more “morally” conservative than me), I find him overall to be really open-minded, intellectual, and down-to-earth. Plus, he always offers to buy me snacks on 7-11 runs. Some of you may find this really weird, but all along I’ve been thinking it’s been a blessing in disguise for my roommate this year to be a white American male. It puts a human face on what often gets dehumanized as “the oppressor.” So even though B. will never experience what it’s like not to have white privilege, he is definitely conscious of its existence and what it means in society. And that means a lot.
So I will be getting a new roommate. Or . . . they will ask me to move apartments AGAIN. To which I will say, “HELL, NO!!!” (But only on the inside; on the outside, I’ll have to smile, nod, and say, “Sure! Sounds great!” while gritting my teeth. B. wasn’t so good at being submissive, which is part of why he’s getting canned.)