I had just fallen asleep almost an hour ago, 11:00pm, when a student called me. I don't usually answer the phone after 11pm, especially if I don't recognize the number. I also usually stay up later but with KOTESOL last weekend I've been more tired this week. For the past month or so I have had students calling me on weekends, and on weeknights, to ask me questions about RIDICULOUS things.
I wonder if some of the students watch The Simpsons and if they're copying Bart's prank calls to Moe . . .
So to purge my rage in a productive manner . . .
I got up and began researching this topic. This past weekend I also picked up a book called "Telephoning" at the KOTESOL conference, and I'm going to look more closely at it tomorrow and see if it already has a page or two that are relevant to my agenda to educate Korean university students in cell phone etiquette.
A typical conversation runs something like this . . .
A = me
B = student
B: Hehe . . . Hmmm, Hello--hahah--hello teacher--HaHaHa--I am Park Ji Sung--HaHaHa--(Korean muttering)--HaHaHa . . .
A: Yes, what do you need?
A: What do you need? Why are you calling?
B: I'm Park Ji Sung from _____ department. HaHaHaHa--(talks to friend/s in the background in Korean--friends start laughing too)
A: (waiting . . . waiting . . . getting irritated . . . waiting)
B: I . . . uhmmmm . . . I . . . (more talking to self or friends in Korean--more laughing and talking in Korean) . . . I . . .
A: What do you need? (getting more irritated)
B: I--uhm--need ask kestion.
A: Okay, what do you need to know?
B: AHHH! What do need know. I . . . (giggling . . . giggling . . .)
A: What do you need to know?
B: I need know can you edit script activity presentation?
A: No. I told you the rules for the presentation in class. It's also on a handout I gave you.
B: Oh, really? I need you edit my dialogue---
A: No. I told you. The rule is no editing.
B: . . .
A: Do you understand?
B: Yes teacher. (CLICK)
A: . . . SIGH!
Maybe I need to add more "Nnn, Nnn" and "Yeh-yeh" to my phone conversations . . .
That's actually one of the shorter types of phone calls (the dialogue above) I've been getting. I think the following clip from youtube might illustrate the kind of surreal feelings of laughter blurred with something not quite anger but not quite irritation that I get after getting off the phone with a student.
About two weeks ago I got a text message on a Friday night at 7pm while I was in Seoul eating dinner with Julianne.
Text Message: BUB GUN ACTIVITY SENTENCE GOOD I'VE GOT AN ELEPHANT ?
I wonder if there's a Signals unit in Korea that can decode text messages for me . . . ? I called this student because I had NO IDEA WHATSOEVER about the meaning of the text message, or for that matter that the first part was his Korean first name . . . it took 5 minutes for me to decipher what he wanted to ask me, and then another 5 minutes for me to get him to understand how he could help himself . . .
I often feel like I'm having a conversation with Elmo . . .
This morning I asked 5 different Korean students at my university (yes, a small sampling, but I think somewhat representative of the 'whole') what is the latest time that they would call a KOREAN professor on a weeknight. One said, "6 . . . maybe 7pm." Another group answered, "Not after 10pm."
WHY AM I DIFFERENT? Well, besides several other obvious answers that everyone who is living in Korea, or has lived here, knows . . . I think the simple answer comes from the Korean culture phenomenon--in my mind that word is very apt for these kinds of things--of EXTREME POLEMIC DYNAMISM . . . simply put, almost every aspect of life here is one extreme or the other.
You either do things the 'Korean way' (usually defined by the Korean person you are interacting with, sometimes in line with a mainstream cultural definition and practice, and other times more in line with whatever the agenda is of the Korean) . . . yes, I am painting with a generalizing brush that does not take into consideration individual personalities or situations that have been contextualized BUT I think most if not all people in the world can safely make some generalizations about cultures AS LONG AS they have a certain degree of self-awareness about what they are saying, thinking, and the real-world effects of the ideas they are espousing . . .
I think too many Koreans believe that "English culture/s" is pure chaos and anarchy therefore they can say and do whatever is most expedient to their needs and wants in the moment--WRONG!
I think I will blog about the EXTREME POLEMIC DYNAMISM in Korea in the next week or so . . .
Cell Phone Etiquette
- Do not giggle or laugh like a middle school girl or boy. It is rude and immature behavior.
- Do not talk to other people in the room in English or Korean, or laugh and giggle a lot, when calling a professor—it is rude, and you waste the professor’s time.
- Prepare your question/s by writing them down first on a piece of paper. Organize your questions. What do you need to know? Can another student in your class give you the answer? Do you really need to call the professor, or can you ask a friend? If you forget what the professor told you in class, ask 3 friends to help you remember first before calling.
- Do not call a professor after 11pm Monday—Friday.
Monday 9am to 9pm
Tuesday 9am to 9pm
Wednesday 9am to 9pm
Thursday 9am to 9pm
Friday 9am to 9pm
= 60 hours a week that you can ask a professor a question.
NOTE: Use text messages or email for questions during evenings or on weekends. This allows the professor to call you back when they have a few free minutes. We want to help you—but please remember that we have personal lives, and also that we are not on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Do not call a professor on Saturday or Sunday unless it is an emergency.
- Hello. It’s __________ (first name) from the __________ (department name) calling.
- Are you busy right now?
Can I have a moment of your time?
Can I talk to you right now?
- a) I’m sorry to bother you, but I need to ask you a question. b) I’m sorry to bother you, but I need to set up an appointment time with you.
- I need to know . . .
Can you . . . . ?
- Thank you for your time.
Thank you for your help.
Thank you for answering my question.