You know, I had a bad impression of the Academic Affairs Office where I work even before I was hired. I don’t know what happened, but twice they claimed not to have received my transcripts — transcripts that somehow arrived everywhere else they were sent. Ahem.
Well, getting final, official clearance to match the unofficial permission I’ve repearedly to go to Clarion West, this seems to have become well-nigh impossible. Almost. But fill out this one more little paper, and maybe we’ll see. Oh,and this one. And can you fill out that form? And retype this letter, but leave this and that detail out? By tomorrow?
At first, a professor nicely called over there for me, and they said, “Sure, just write up a table showing all the hours that will be taught in the class, including make-up classes, and it should be no problem.”
I did this. I included a letter with my vague plans for make-up classes, and a very detailed explanation of the grading system I would use for each class which showed why I was sure the grades would be done on time.
Then they said they wanted a copy of the official invitation letter. There was none — at that time, all I’d gotten was a phone call — but I asked the nice people at Clarion West to write one, and Neile did.
Then, a few weeks later, they said, “Oh, but we need you to fill out an official form with the make-up class dates.” So I filled one out.
Then they complained that a date was mistaken on the form. The secretary fixed it.
Then, a week later, they called asking for the official booklet for the workshop. I brought the packet I’d received and explained that no official booklet was made, or would ever exist, and that this was a WORKSHOP. The booklet I got in my mailing package was copied.
Then, less than a week later, they called, saying, “Oh, well, we need some kind of explanation about what this thing is.” I’d already given them a link to the Clarion site, and a basic explanation in my letter, but no, that wasn’t good enough. They needed some kind of paper. So I typed something up and the kindly secretary translated it.
And now (as of Monday), they’ve called yet again, and you want to know why? Because, you see, the full-course-hours plan I’d submitted months ago assumed I’d be teaching on days that, over a month and a half later, I was informed were actually — SURPRISE– holidays! I had one hour of classes planned on this holiday, and two hours planned on that one, and of course, that’s a problem. So, someone in Academic Affairs said, “Hey, wait, he’s not teaching 48 hours in this class: the 6th is a holiday, so he’s teaching only 47 hours! And last Thursday nobody had classes, so he must be under 45 hours in that class…” and so on, and so on.
They just HAD to call again, of course. Mind you, these holidays were applicable to ALL courses. NOBODY teaches make-up classes for national and school holidays. NOBODY. In addition to that, I actually gave none of my classes a day off after exams, unlike EVERYONE else. But of course, that is unofficial. But hell, EVERYONE KNOWS that NOBODY does make-up classes for holidays.
So what do they ask the secretary?
You guessed it: “Did he schedule make-up classes for the national holidays?”
So yet again, I had to type the letter, this time not outlining exactly how many hours I’ll be teaching, but rather how many hours I’ll be missing and the make-up classes (which by the way I’ve already held) for those missed classes. Why?
Because the Ministry of Education might show up and might look closely at this random document and might say something about, “How could he have taught on those days when they were holidays?”
Which, by the way, is exactly why Korean attendance sheets don’t actually track attendance. They track student absence. They’re actually absence sheets. They show when a student hasn’t attended, because that way there’s no record of the fact that class wasn’t taught on a particular day. Oh, that was a holiday? I don’t remember. Anyway, my attendance sheet doesn’t show any holiday. (So in addition, I am now required to recopy all my attendance sheets into a much more deceptive form. Because, you know, the government might take an interest in this.)
And what is this all over? This is the killer. This is the absolute killer.
I’m missing 3 days of the semester. I’m leaving on the 17th, and the semester finishes on the 21st, but there’s a weekend in there, and a Friday on which I don’t have classes. I am not present for the 19th, 20th, and 21st. That’s the big deal. Chances are that a large number of the other professors on campus also are going to be finished when I am, give or take a day. But for those three days, I have had to fill paperwork out, type things, change things, clarify things, and teach a ridiculous number of make-up class hours. I’ve even had to lie about one make-up class, not because I haven’t taught the class an apporpriate number of hours — I have! — but because, you see, I’m leaving three days early and need to get official permission.
I just finished it, and I should be feeling better — I just have a few more days of heavy grading to go, and I’ve gotten this stupidity out of the way — but I don’t feel better. I feel deeply, deeply annoyed. And my good eye, the eye that I am supposed to be resting, is twitching now. I’m sure it’ll be worth it, but right now I want to march into the office of Academic Affairs and yell at someone. I know enough Korean cuss words to do it, too, I’ll bet. I won’t do it, but I want to. I really want to.
Ah well. There’s only ten days till I’m on a plane to Seattle and launching myself into the utter sanity and, yes, compared to this, the utter relaxation of the Clarion West Workshop. I have a feeling the story I’m planning, set in a futuristic pan-Asian city-state for the young, will involve at least one moronic bureaucratic office to be blown up or attacked by bioterrorists or something. At least one.