Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trapped in the Classroom

I got trapped inside a classroom this week.

Currently all of my classes are taught in the same classroom. Because it has a TV inside it is securely locked with a security door that I have the key to. Inside the security door there is also an old wooden door which is now broken and has no handle, and has remained this way for weeks. On Monday this wooden door was closed and utterly impossible to open, and we had to find another classroom. Then, during my Tuesday lesson, a not particularly observant student tightly closed this door while I was speaking.

Sure enough, when it was time to end class and leave, the door could not be opened. Without the handle the latch was not going anywhere, and the class watched on with amusement as I struggled with the door. Students tried the door but it was no more willing to move than Excalibur from the stone. I asked if anyone had a cell phone and the class monitor was quickly on the job. The other students took the chance to take pictures of me with their camera phones (I'm teaching freshman who for the most part have never spoken to a foreigner before this month). Though we were on the first floor we couldn't escape through the windows, as they all had bars. At least no one will steal the TV. After the monitor made a phone call he started shouting out the window at passing students to get help, and trying to communicate with people in the hall by shouting at the small (barred) opening near the ceiling. The students repeatedly asked me if I had a key (after quickly consulting with each about how to say "key" in English); no, I did not have a key to the wooden door, and this was clearly not the problem when there was no handle and nothing to put a key into.

It also began to hail heavily, a very rare event in these parts and an appropriately dramatic touch. Finally a teacher came by to bang on the door really hard, to no avail. She also wanted to know why I didn't have a key. Eventually something she did worked and the door opened, allowing us to leave after waiting around like idiots for 10 minutes after class. I went straight to the English department to inform them about the door. I was assured that because the door has no handle it can't lock and there is no problem. After making clear that I had definitely just gotten stuck in the classroom with 35 students they said they were calling a repairman to take care of it. The door has still not been fixed.

Never a dull moment.

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