Category Archives: Teaching

I’m no longer a person – again

Once again, I’m back to being a non-person.

This is such a regular occurrence that I shouldn’t even bat an eye when it happens – again.

I have an older sibling who’s four years my senior. Just last Saturday, my sibling was buttering me up when wanting to borrow some cash for lunch (because that place is a cash-only establishment). I loaned the money and I was paid back later. No big deal. My sibling also wanted to borrow even more money, but I declined.

Interestingly, the next day, my sibling was no longer speaking to me – again. I don’t know what I had done wrong this time, but I mean, I’m again no longer a person. I’m back to being persona non grata. As I type this, it’s Wednesday night, meaning it’s been four days now of this silent treatment. I’m back to being invisible.

So, really, it’s nothing unusual because that’s how it seems with many people in society. When they want something, they butter you up. And when you’re no longer needed (this time), you’re kicked to the curb.

Just the other day, someone asked me rhetorically if I felt I was “childish” because I have a toy collection at home. I chose not to answer the question.

But being “childish”? I can say that the passive-aggressive approach employed by my sibling would count as that. And it is passive-aggressive behaviour, that’s for sure. There’s tension which can be felt. Yes, I’ve experienced this type of treatment from both my sibling and my father repeatedly over the years, so it shouldn’t affect me.

But I’m not a machine. I’m not AI. I’m not a robot. I’m a human being. A person.

Except when I’m treated like I’m not. Like I’m a non-person.

Now, when I was younger, did I ignore people? Yes, I often did in school. That was a time when I was extremely shy and afraid of talking to people. Did I offend anyone then? Yes, I’m sure I did. But again, at the time I was extremely afraid of talking to people.

When you’re older, you change. But some people don’t. I used to work at this school where there were two instructors who were like that. Now, keep in mind that we’re talking about grown adults who are educators. Let that sink in for a moment.

I was new at that school at the time. I said “Hi” to a math teacher whom I came across in the hallway. He stared at me without a word. Eventually, he returned the favour by saying “Hi” back, but the first few times were awkward. Then, there was this other teacher named Cicy. I said “Hi” when coming across her in the hallway. I was ignored. It happened a few times. Another time I was approaching the school building and saw her coming in my direction. I said “Hello” and was ignored.

Now, this Cicy was not shy because I’d seen her yapping it up with the school administrators and other teachers. So, I guess the question is this: Am I too much of a loser that people – in this case, Cicy – just don’t want to talk to? Again, let that one sink in for a moment: We’re talking about a grown adult who happens to be an educator. So, here’s yet another reason that I think teachers are overrated.

If this particular teacher had any issue with me, let’s discuss it. But this passive-aggressive nonsense is just silly. I often joked to myself that the “C” in the name of the school stood for “Clique” – It’s like this Cicy still thought she was in high school.

One time, I was told by a student who was from the same ethnicity with Cicy and the math teacher that in their country, if someone randomly said “Hi,” they would just walk away and thought the speaker was weird. Well, that’s fine. But hello? We’re in Canada. Besides, if you’re an educator and you’re behaving like that, well, I have to question your ability to teach and inspire kids.

Of course, how can you blame others for treating you like you’re invisible, like you’re a non-person, when you’ve received that kind of treatment from your own sibling and father? If family can do that, I guess that’s fair game by others. (Oh yeah, speaking of family, I heard that Cicy’s mother taught at a different location of that school, so I would guess that’s how Cicy got that job. Nepotism at its finest.)

There was one incident when Cicy brought her dog to school. My classroom happened to be across the hall from hers. My students were supposed to be focusing on their English 12 reading assignment, but they were too busy checking out Cicy’s dog across the hall. I closed the blinds but that didn’t work. Now, some peers will scoff and say that it proved I didn’t know how to teach. But the thing is, Cicy could have done something to help out the situation by maybe coming over to apologize and ask the students to focus in their class? This Cicy never even bothered to come and talk to me to acknowledge that her dog created some inconvenience for me.

So, okay, I collect toys. But the actions of this grown adult, this female teacher, should be considered even more “childish,” in my opinion.

And speaking of being “childish,” I can say that people who refuse to follow rules are childish. In some cases, they’re thieves. Recently, I took the bus (and, sure, some people will scoff and say “Serves you right for taking the bus,” but last time I checked, countless people use transit every single day) and sat at the back, where I witnessed this bald dude get on via the back door, did not pay (passengers are supposed to tap their Compass bus card on the system), and took a seat and proceeded to stick his knee out in the aisle during the duration of the ride in a way that would make Ulf Samuelsson proud (that’s a reference to the former Pittsburgh Penguins player who famously stuck his knee out and injured Boston Bruins star Cam Neely). And, oh, he didn’t wear a mask, even though for transit passengers in this city, it’s still mandatory to have a mask on.

So, you have this fellow who 1) didn’t pay (meaning he’s the equivalent of a thief), 2) didn’t wear a mask (a type of childish behaviour when we’re in the midst of a pandemic), and 3) stuck his knee out and was in the way of people who were trying to get to the back of the bus the entire ride.

I mean, at least this thieving fella wasn’t a teacher, I don’t think. But shame on people like Cicy and others who treat others like they’re invisible. And the sad thing is some of these people are teachers.

Oh yeah. This school that I referenced? I quit twice before and I was begged to return, so I did. However, I quit a third time recently – and I don’t think I’ll be back. If I wanted to be treated like I’m invisible, I could just hang out with family and get that.

Teachers who didn’t care

Last year when I spoke with Mark Langill, the LA Dodger historian, about advice for students aspiring to work for a sports organization, he recalled the time when his high school English teacher helped him by nominating him for the school newspaper:

Mark acknowledged he was very lucky.

Not everybody is, however.

In my own high school, there was no teacher like that. All I encountered were teachers who didn’t care. Or not enough.

At the time, I was shy and timid, afraid of speaking. I was often unhappy. Not one teacher ever pulled me aside to ask me if everything was okay. Not one.

After I graduated and then completed my first year of university, that summer I was looking to volunteer my time at the Neil Squire Foundation, to help people with disabilities learn to use the computer. I returned to my high school to ask some of my teachers for a reference. Two of them laughed and said, “Shouldn’t you be looking for a job instead?” It was obviously a harmless joke. Yet, for someone who didn’t have the highest amount of self-esteem at the time, being laughed at for wanting to do something positive was deflating. If I had completed eight weeks at Neil Squire, I would have received a certificate. I left after six weeks, not because I didn’t like it, but ultimately I let those teachers’ remark bother me (ie. I chose to interpret the comment to mean, “If you’re not chasing money, you’re behind everybody else and you’re a loser,” or something to that effect).

But I want to go back to English class specifically. It was Grade 8. I had just immigrated to Canada two years earlier and was new. In Dickson’s English 8 class, I scored the highest in the first term. I know that because Dickson, an older gentleman who had no sense of humour and was always very serious, read out all the marks for the class. He read out each person’s student number and percentage. I listened attentively and heard that my 83% was the highest. Nobody else got that or a mark higher than mine. To my utter disappointment, though, Dickson never acknowledged who had the highest mark (me) and also gave me a B, even though nobody else achieved a higher score.

So, on two levels, I was disappointed. Dickson did not acknowledge me. He also chose to grade us strictly by the book: 86% or higher would be A. Anything less would not be an A.

When you have teachers like Dickson who did nothing to support or encourage you, it is very deflating. None of the other English teachers I had after that — Comey, Comeau, and Borgen — cared either. Borgen was a funny dude, but he wasn’t caring.

I haven’t even talked about classmates yet. There’s a big deal about how there’s Asian hate crimes, etc. Not to dismiss any of that, but even Asians were bullying fellow Asians. There was an Asian classmate named Kenny. My name has the word “Kok” in it (and hence I’ve now shortened my name to KP), and Kenny and his Asian friends were mocking me once. (Once out of numerous times.) I’m Asian. Someone made a joke about my name, and Kenny said my dad’s name was probably “Dick” and my mom’s was likely “Vagina.” So, when you have fellow Asian classmates who treated you like crap and teachers who didn’t care, things were very difficult.

There was one teacher who was kind — although she wasn’t someone who actually taught me. She was a teacher in the school but I never had classes with her. She might have seen my career interest questionnaire results and thought that I really wanted to be an accountant. (I didn’t.) I don’t know why she assumed I wanted to be an accountant, but I never told her that I didn’t want to. She approached me and started giving me advice on how to pursue that.

Our school counsellor was also caring. But again, she wasn’t my teacher whom I saw every day.

So, even though I’m a teacher myself right now, anytime anyone asks me about teachers, I give the straight answer — based on my own experience: Teachers care only about themselves.

Unfortunately, that’s true. At least based what I have personally experienced.

Life Lessons #001: Peers around me care only about celebrities

Well, I’m going to try and write down my thoughts and life lessons learned through interactions with those around me.

In the city where I currently live, the sports radio market has taken a hit over the past few years. It really doesn’t and shouldn’t come as a surprise if you consider how the radio industry has gone — in fact, when I interviewed a radio veteran from Southern California back in 2019, he said the radio market, regardless of what city you’re in, is on the downside and has been for a while. He should know. And I do believe what he said.

Now, when the local sports radio market made massive changes over the past couple of years, radio veterans in the city and listeners all seem to be caught off guard. Well, I don’t think it should come as a surprise if you stop and think about the trends. But I digress. My point is fans were outraged and attacked the corporations which made the decisions — without realizing these types of firings occur in other industries without much fanfare. Without people caring.

Back in 2016, I was teaching mainly in the late afternoons and evenings so that I would have time to write during the daytime. One day, an acquaintance told me that a school downtown was hiring for substitutes and encouraged me to contact the director, Simon. I did. Long story short, Simon hired me that March to be a regular instructor. One month later, he pulled a dick move by hiring a friend’s friend and told me he was firing me, effective that afternoon. It was a Friday afternoon.

I was stunned. Simon then threw in the kicker: Another teacher was taking two weeks off in May and Simon wanted me to cover those two weeks as a substitute. Talk about a dick move. He hired a friend’s friend to take over my position, and then had the audacity to ask me to be a substitute for two weeks for another teacher. Being a gentleman, I accepted (not that I needed that job, but I was being professional and kind).

When I told peers that I had gotten fired, all of my peers virtually acted like they didn’t care. It was all, “Uhm, thanks for sharing that, but I’m actually busy and can’t listen to this story” or “Okay, I’ve heard enough and I know where this story is going…” That’s how peers reacted. What, just because I’m not a radio person with a cool job that people think it’s not outrageous how I was treated? Is it like, say, a radio personality’s job is way more important than a teacher’s?

I soon realized why Simon did this. I was called in virtually every week after those two weeks filling in. One Thursday it would be a different teacher having a dentist appointment and I would be called in. The next Monday it was someone else who had a doctor’s appointment. The next Wednesday it was something else. I literally filled in every week from May to the end of August.

So that’s why Simon fired me — he knew I didn’t need the job and that I would be reliable to come in as a substitute on short notice. But I wasn’t prepared for the next incident.

He called me into his office on one of the days I was substituting. He said they were having a TYCP course starting the next month, and he needed me. I made the arrangements to have time off and be ready for that course. All along, he assured me the class was happening. Then, the Friday before the class was to begin, he texted me to say the class was cancelled. They originally had four students signed up, according to Simon, but now it was zero because everyone dropped out.

No big deal. The funny thing was that the following Tuesday, another teacher was sick and I was asked to fill in. I came in and looked at the noticeboard. I was filling in for Riley’s class. Then my eyes suddenly noticed a TYCP course on the noticeboard, with the names of four students and the assigned teacher, Monica, someone they had just hired. (Obviously, having been there every week as a substitute, I knew everyone there, and when I saw this new face, I went up to introduce myself — and Monica acknowledged she’d just been hired.)

So, Simon was a liar. That’s, again, something I would tell my peers … but then again, since I’m no radio personality or famous person, my peers wouldn’t care. So I didn’t bother sharing this incident with them.

But c’mon. What kind of boss does that? If he had been man enough to say, “Okay, I actually decided to hire someone else to take that class, so, sorry I have to say I can’t use you,” then it would have been fine. But to lie to me and say there was suddenly zero enrollment. What a gutless dick.

I would think these things happen in other industries. They happen without much fanfare. And, of course, if I discuss this, peers would think I’m bitter (I’m not). Or that I’m disgruntled, etc. etc. Of course, when these things happen in the radio industry, people are ready to attack those corporations.

Go figure. Lesson here? People around me — my peers, that is — don’t care about me. They care about celebrities and others in high-profile occupations. My job, in their eyes, is nothing. My story, for them, is not worth hearing about.

I get it. And I accept it.

So they say, “Go Google that #@!”

In the latest episode of the podcast, I shared with the guest host a story about the time when I interviewed a former athlete who told me to “go Google that @#!#” in response to a question about a game in which his team won.

This reminds me of a recent incident when I expressed frustration in using a new system to a colleague. This was a fellow whom I respected — and, in fact, I had written two glowing recommendation letters for him for professional reference purposes recently — but what did he do?* No, he didn’t say “go Google that @#!#!”

He came close, though. He essentially told me off — in a condescending manner — commenting that the system was “pretty easy.” But the tone was definitely condescending. I was disappointed that he would react that way, especially since I had just written those letters for him. I guess you just never know.

*I even personally spoke to the two places about him, giving glowing verbal recommendations. Both places were extremely interested in his services, but he decided to brush them off — despite the fact he had asked me to get in touch with them in the first place. I’d even shared teaching resources with him umpteen times. Never again. But come to think of it, I should have known better. When I told him a couple of times about my podcast, he didn’t show any interest or give any words of congratulations or encouragement. His only response was succinct: “I only listen to Tim and Sid.” Okay, whatever.

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 6: Profusa CEO Ben Hwang

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 6: Profusa CEO Ben Hwang

Ben Hwang is a former Los Angeles Dodger batboy and for the past nine years has been the Chairman and CEO of Profusa, a biotech company based in Northern California.

His career in the science and technology space spans over 15 years, and has served a number of leadership positions such as Head of qPCR Platform and President of Asia Pacific at Life Technologies, and Vice President and General Manager of the Asia Pacific Region at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

From 1984 to 1990, he was the Marketing and Promotions Manager for the Dodgers.

Ben discusses his time in baseball and shares the lessons that he learned while in the Dodger organization as well as tips for those who would like to get into the game. He also discusses how the lessons learned in baseball are applicable to life outside of sport.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [2:10] An introduction to Ben Hwang
  • [6:28] Ben’s experience working for the Dodgers
  • [11:53] Profusa’s mission
  • [16:14] Three key lessons Ben learned in baseball that are applicable to life in general
  • [22:07] Ben explains his motto: “Don’t be afraid to put your name in the hat.”
  • [26:04] Ben on his attempted bid to purchase the Dodgers in 2012

Key Quotes by Ben:

  • “Those years were so much fun that my biggest fear in my teens and late 20s was that my life would have peaked by then. How much greater could your life be as a baseball fan to actually be on the field playing catch with your heroes and putting on a Dodgers uniform?”
  • “We are the sum of all our experiences, and I don’t think a day goes by without me being grateful for the experience that I had in baseball and at Dodger Stadium.”
  • “Professional sports creates a work ethic that is second to none.”
  • “The advice I would give to anybody who is considering a career in any industry, or any discipline, quite frankly, is: Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. The worst thing that could happen is that they say ‘no’. The best thing that could happen is that you get the chance to prove yourself. The most likely thing that would happen is, you just earned the opportunity to articulate your passion and your ambition to somebody who may not be able to help you immediately, but may help you in the future. So, yep, throw your name in the hat every chance you get.”

For more information about Profusa, please check out the company’s website: https://profusa.com/

If you enjoyed the intro music, please follow Roger Chong on Twitter/Instagram: @chongrong 

For the book referenced in the podcast, Tim Madigan and Fred Claire’s “Extra Innings,” please visit https://www.tinyurl.com/FredClaireExtraInnings