Work.

I can’t be as eloquent as Arwen when it comes to the political side of work and women’s work, but it was strange that this is going around the blogosphere on a day like today, when I really noticed my job.

My day started with a discussion of dental hygeine, playing with words so that Professor Jun’s power point presentation, written in Korean and aimed at dental care professionals, was better suited to an audiece of Grade Fives in Canada. (Bonus: I got to teach vital vocabulary like ‘pee’ and ‘poo’) This is enriching. Hanging with Professor Jun always stimulates my brain because we sometimes have to go through medical Latin to get to what he wants to say. (“You are less lipid”= “You’ve lost weight”)

Then I came home and took a nap.

Next, I thumbed through a chapter of Harry Potter to get the hard vocab for one of my students, who is ploughing through it with the aid of my vocab sheets, which help her understand the meanings of different words in context. This is somethng I’m doing on my own dime, but what it means is this girl, whose reading level is about the middle of grade two, gains confidence in leaps and bounds. Three months ago, she was afraid to say anything or write anything. Now, she cheerfully chatters about anything and everything.

Later on, I’ll go to my ‘job’ job, where I will teach kids to read and write. The grammar is boring, but the reward is that they really, really learn. Don’t get me wrong, they do in public schools as well, but it’s easier to learn in a place where the teacher’s attention isn’t spread over thirty-odd kids, some of whom have behaviour issues, some of whom are also recent newcomers to Canada, and almost all of whom learn in different ways at different rates. It’s hard to work at your own pace in an environment like this, particularly when you don’t recognize half the words on the page or being said.

After my ‘job’ job, I’ll go up to UBC, to do some private work with a private student. She’s having some trouble with irregular forms of the past tense, but this is no biggie, considering that two months ago, she was having trouble with the present tenses of ‘to have’ and ‘to be’.

I went into teaching more or less by fluke: I discovered I was good at it, and went from there. But the job I have now has its own rewards:

I work the hours I want.
I have time to see my grandmother.
I have time to do things I want to do.
I make a difference in people’s lives. Every. Single. Day.
I get to explain my culture to people who are often worried and a little intimidated by it.
I don’t sit in an office.
I get to learn about other perope’s cultures and ideas and beliefs.
I create my own curriculum, based ont he needs of the student.

Lots of people in my life worry because I’m not ‘building on anything’, and sometimes even, ‘You’re just marking time’. Some of these are the people who believe that the company is going to be there for them, that on their fiftieth birthday, they’ll get a gold watch. Some of these are the people who feel that unless my life is constantly more corporate, constantly more traditional in the choices I make (“How can you get Mat leave if you’re self employed? You can’t! You are condemning your babies to poverty!”), it counts as nothing.

I am not climbing a corporate ladder, and I have made work decisions that not everyone would make. But I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, because I’ve created a situation that’s tailored to me, and that can grow as I grow. Whatever direction that turns out to be.

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