Monday, February 15, 2010

Job Fair, Day Two

After sleep and a pretty good breakfast, we headed back to the conference center for more interviews. Upon our arrival, we found a rather terse note from Athens telling us that tomorrow's interview was canceled, and we honestly felt relieved. We met first with a school in the southern part of Korea (Taejon Christian), which had only music positions, so Joe would have to go back to HS band (no marching). This school was a partner school with another Christian school in Suwon (remember that name for later), and when we arrived we were told that the interview would be with Dr. Penlund, the headmaster, rather than Mr. Moimoi, the middle school principal, so not only did we miss out on saying "Moimoi" (very fun) nor did we get to hear his beautiful voice. Dr. Penlund, a lovely man in his own right, laid out five areas that needed leadership and asked us how we would divide them between ourselves. I was pretty interested in the brand new auditorium in which my HS choir and orchestra would perform, but it wasn't as attractive for Joe, whose heart is firmly planted in the counseling world. We accepted a flash drive with the school's application form and hurried to our next interview, checking our empty mail folder for any word from Seoul Foreign on the way.

Next we visited with our friends from Honduras in a school in the second largest city, San Pedro Sula. Some of you will chuckle when I say that I was interviewing for an 8th grade language arts and social studies position! I liked the middle school principal very much, and she felt sure that I could handle the job, and Joe made an excellent impression on the elementary principal. Because we had done some reading about the security issues in Honduras, we asked specifically about that aspect of the job. I even asked if staff members ever carried weapons, which really shocked our interviewers (well, I didn't mean on school grounds). While we gave the Hondurans high marks for direct and forthright communication, we left the interview (which lasted 90 minutes) with little expectations.

When that interview was over (about 11:00 a.m.), the nice fellows from Shanghai waved us down for a quick confab. They had been keeping an eye on us during the Honduras interview (which was conducted in the large convention room), and I had even given Jeff a quick wave. They presented us with a job offer! We were floored (I thought I might hurl) and spent a little time talking details, including a discussion of whether Jack could come (Larry was discouraging on that point), then we asked for a deadline, which was agreed for 6:00 p.m. We went up to the room for the Switzerland interview and found a note saying that all positions had been filled and all remaining interviews were canceled, except for someone named Barbara, so I hope she found success.

The fellows from Seoul had asked us to let them know if we received any offers, so we went over and camped out by their interview room, and that's when the real fun began. We weren't hearing from anyone, other than a very kindly worded decline from the Hondurans, so we cracked open the laptop, and lo and behold, Joe had a request for a Skype interview with his potential principal from Seoul, who was at a different recruiting fair in Boston. We hung out for an hour or so, talking over the various pros/cons with our new recruiting fair friends (all of whom thought we were insane to not accept the Shanghai offer IMMEDIATELY), then cracked open the laptop again for the interview. While Joe was waiting to get that going, I talked some more with Jeff from Shanghai, who assured me that Jack would be welcome (but that's not the same as making it a good idea - he was just trying to build up his case). Joe spoke for over an hour with the Seoul principal, but they were frustrated by the fact that I had not had the chance to interview with my principal (same overall school, but I would be working for the British part of the school, so slightly different curriculum). The principal in Boston said to me, "Would you be able to go for a year with only Joe working?" and I replied, "That depends on how much you're going to pay him."

We went back over to the Seoul interview room and camped out again to get some action on my position, and I did a Skype interview at 5:15 p.m. with the poor principal in Seoul, who had to wake up way too early on a Sunday to talk to me. He was very charming and British and said my accent wouldn't be a problem unless I talked too fast, which only my Southern friends seem to think I do. He liked my ideas, but had some concern about my lack of a music endorsement (my own district has been lecturing me about that for some time now) and my lack of experience in the British system, which is evidently quite different from ours. He had one other candidate to interview, and would be doing that later that day for him, which would be early tomorrow morning for us. The Seoul interviewer promised us a call by 9:30 on Sunday morning.

Sooooo, in the meantime, our Shanghai deadline came, and I went to their room to ......... decline. Yup, turned 'em down, we were really hanging our hats on Seoul. Jeff was very gracious and we talked about his interviewing strategies which worked well for him except for Joe and me. The school reviewed all credential files well before the fair and determined exactly the candidates they wanted to hire, then they issued only ten interview invitations and never interviewed anyone else. Of the ten interviews, only Joe and I declined the offer, but that meant they did not interview anyone else for the position. He asked us to keep his card and let him know how everything worked out (or didn't) with Seoul. He could not have been nicer, and I apologized for putting him in a bad position, but he assured me that his school will be fine and we hugged and everything was good. Rabbit chase: the Hondurans also hugged me when we parted ways - this is just a bunch of really nice people.

And that's where we ended the day, still kind of on the fence, which is uncomfortable, but also not committed to anything that wouldn't work. This is absolutely the biggest roller coaster I have ever ridden, but it was still a lot of fun. (Of course, I like roller coasters.) People were getting jobs left and right (including Ms. Venezuela, who will be teaching in Saudi Arabia because she is a steely eyed missile woman and will make a bucket of money). Joe's friend Rick had been offered positions in Abuja Nigeria and Tampico Mexico, but he was holding out for an offer from that school in Suwon (remember the partner school to Taejon Christian?). After a 6:45 p.m. second interview with Suwon, he got the job! We were thrilled for him and went to a place called Rudy's to celebrate. Now, if you ever find yourself in Waterloo, Iowa, you MUST go to Rudy's, which not only had great Mexican food (no lie!) but also an impressive display of marionette folk art hanging from the ceiling. I wished I had my camera. While we were there I fielded a call from Taejon and told Dr. Penland that we were waiting to hear from Seoul. I wasn't exactly in a good place to have a long conversation, so I think I cut him off perhaps sooner than he would have liked. We went back to our hotel happy for our friend and hoping for our own prospects. Thus ended the second day.

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