Monday, February 22, 2010

Paint Thinner and Cigarettes

Ian works with a girl named Rahee.  She is our age and she is Korean, but she's been living in Spain for the past few years.  So, she is almost as alone here as we are.  She has few friends and tells Ian that she feels like a foreigner.  She smokes, which is completely taboo in Korea.  Don't get me wrong, smoking is a popular pastime here, but women aren't supposed to do it in public.  In fact, it isn't unlikely for women to get accosted by men (and occasionally assaulted) if they are seen doing so.  Every public restroom I enter is filled with cigarette smoke.

Apparently, someone somehow affiliated with Yoon's saw Rahee smoking somewhere public and complained to Julia or David (or someone high up on the chain of command).  So, Rahee was lectured for being a bad influence and a general degenerate.  At least we can't be lectured without a translation.

She told Ian that one of her friends goes to our gym.  Apparently, everyone has been wondering about Ian and my connection.  I'm sure Rahee will inform her friend and soon everyone will know through the grapevine.

Ian had a terrible day at work.  They're doing construction at the Goam campus, but they're still holding classes.  He spent the hole day in paint thinner fumes with David pacing around the building.  He gave Ian a mini-tour of the new fascilities and he'll take pictures on Wednesday.  His students hardly spoke, probably because their heads were buzzing.  We're halfway through our contracts, but it feels like we're back at square one in so many ways.

The construction methods don't look exactly sound according to Ian, either.

One of his students wrote a particularly intellectual piece for his homework.  Keep in mind that this was an Essential 2 student (about 13 years old).  His assignment was to look at the picture below and write what he thought the groundhog's (or bear, as most students called it) plans were for the day.

The student wrote (slightly altered to be readable):

"Mr. Crazy good morning.  Mr. Crazy breakfast is 100 (Korean scribble) eat fish.  Mr. Crazy wash the teeth.  Mr. Crazy going bingo house.  Mr. Crazy said, "Hello bingo. How are you?"  Bingo said, "I am so-so."  Bingo said, "Your name why crazy?"  Mr. Crazy said, "I am crazy said."  Bingo said, "Ha ha your 바보 ("babo"= Korean for crazy/stupid).  Mr. Crazy is dance.  Bingo said, "Your right your 바보 and crazy."

Sometimes it's tough not to get disheartened by students who care so little. It'd be different if they chose to learn English.  Instead, the populace is fed that every child's future depends on their English skill level.  And maybe it does.  But, there's got to be a better way.

If you're interested in a general rundown of South Korea's Educational System, click hereThe Grand Narrative blog has some great pieces on Korean sociology and popular culture.  Here's his post on the system.

I'd like some feedback on the links I post.  Do you guys follow them?  Are they helpful or at least interesting?

Good night!

1 comment:

  1. The children seem to have a slightly hostile way of interacting with each other, or so it seems by some of the things they write. Especially the boys interaction with each other, I know in previous posts you have mentioned that the boys get physical with each other, and are often very mean to one another. I wonder how male adults treat one another? Do the girls also show such negative thought processes and treat each other in a mean way? I find that very interesting and sad, but maybe it is just a facade they hide behind.

    I find the cultural and social aspects of life in Korea very interesting. I am enjoying your postings very much, and as you have seen via my forwarded emails the last couple of days that others are enjoying it also. There are more than a few people that follow the blog who are not signed in as followers. I think most people will not post comments because they either feel uncomfortable with writing thoughts down, and some feel as though they are invading on your privacy. When I read other blogs and I don't know the writer, I am very uncomfortable in making comments, not sure why, maybe I don't want what I write to seem ridiculous or something.
    I would love to hear about your interactions with the locals, your neighbors and the like. And if you don't have any interaction, why not? I think you most likely speak enough Koren to strike a simple conversation. For instance your photo of the stone containers that you said are outside everyone's door,I bet there is fascinating history there.
    I love what you are doing with the blog, I feel less disconnected from you, and the blog is the reason why. Your writing style draws the reader into your life and makes you feel like you are along for the ride. I look forward to it each morning with my tea, Keep up the good work.