Orientation

We knew we would have an orientation eventually for this program but didn’t know when. We were given a paper that just said: “You’re going to orientation from 10-15 and then you’ll have snacks.” Concise. 

I need to pause and say we are not orientation people. We’ve never been to an orientation that left us feeling, well, oriented

The two week orientation in Korea was really concerning when you think about it. They had entire classes on how upsetting it would be if you were to speak up about illegal activities as it would be shameful for the local teachers. Working over your hours and not being paid? Don’t say anything. I was actually asked to lead a class for orientation and was told strictly I couldn’t talk about certain parts of the job (because it would be a liability). So it was full of lies and half truths.

My orientation in Ghana was surreal. We got off the 15 hour flight and went straight there. The president of the program stepped down and, no joke, was given a brand new car. We all stumbled, sleep deprived to go see it. It had a huge ribbon on top and everything. So that orientation was missing some critical things like, I don’t know, how to survive in Africa. 

So now that you’ve had a crash course of our history of terrible orientations, you can guess that we didn’t have any expectations for this orientation.

A woman introduced herself in English then handed it over to a man who spoke completely in Spanish. He spoke slowly which was great because that’s how you learn. But when it comes to job descriptions, rules and regulations it’s important we understand it.

Fortunately he didn’t talk about anything important. He just talked about the literal job description. No joke he told us we would be acting as teachers. We would work 12 hours teaching English/French. We would be paid this much. We all know that. We all read about it when we applied for the job 8 months ago. If someone managed to apply to this job and not know that stuff … it’s impossible. Everyone knows this stuff. 

Then he told us what not to do. We are absolutely supposed to speak only English in the classroom. We are never to speak Spanish in front of the students. That’s all we are not supposed to do, I guess.

After the man was done explaining stuff we already knew, they talked about how to get the TIE card. This was the most important part as we need this to stay in Spain legally. Rather than listening politely and asking later, some people asked really specific questions that didn’t apply to anyone else so we got to sit through that. 

They got a website up that looked really helpful but they didn’t say what the URL was. Someone wrote it  on the board but no one from the middle-back could read it. So they read the letters out individually which was a farce. “W. W. W. Dot. J. U. N.T.A….” the whole thing. Just erase it and write it bigger!

“This paper!” the man suddenly held up a fuzzy black photocopied paper. “This paper is critical! Absolutely critical! You will need to print it out to get your visa.” He put it back on the table and didn’t address what it was or how to find it.

Meanwhile a woman kept coming to the back and translating the whole orientation into French for the French Canadians behind us, as if they couldn’t speak any English/Spanish. So we couldn’t hear anything over the French.

Then the leaders of the orientation left for 20 minutes. Without context, they all just left the room. Some students started leaving, too. What were we doing? 

A fellow student stood up and shouted at all of us. “I went to get the visa yesterday, and it was really complicated with this one form.” She wrote the name of the form on the board. “So it’s tricky but you can get it-”

All the Spanish leaders came rushing back in “okay okay! Hello! Hello” they interrupted her.

Someone was literally taking orientation into her own hands and giving us information so they rushed the stage and basically kicked her off. It’s like they were anti-information. 

The new people who had arrived were the leaders of the school we were sitting in. They promoted it for almost an hour. It was a language school for adults but they didn’t have Spanish classes (which is all we really need). To show off the language school abilities, they had the French teacher translate everything after they were done talking in English (this part was in English but the job rules were in Spanish. Go figure). So with the extra French it was twice as long as it needed to be.

One woman had a nice speech about how our presence humanizes the language for the students. But then she went on a rant about how messed up the world is and how much hate and talk of separation there is in Spain. She was taking a jab at the Catalonia situation which has nothing to do with us and was a maybe little inappropriate to bring up? I don’t know, it’s her orientation, she can say whatever she wants. 

After 2 hours they said abruptly decided it was done. “Go look at the marketplace then come back for snacks.” They suggested. Haha, come back? Ha. No.

Did we learn anything today? Not really. It was the second most bizarre orientation (after the free car one) I’ve ever been to. 

But to say something nice I’ll say I appreciated that the snacks weren’t in the middle of the orientation and that they let us leave. I appreciate they didn’t schedule the orientation on a Monday or Friday when everyone would’ve had the day off. And I appreciate they said it was 5 hours on paper but 2 hours in reality. 

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