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School Swap Korea

In this documentary three Welsh teens fly to Seoul where they will experience three grueling days in a Korean high school.

I knew Korean students were pushed to excel and studied long hours but this documentary horrified me. I wish I knew more about the exact content on the tests that we were seen how the teachers actually teach. Both of those elements would have made for a stronger film, but we do see how stunned and exhausted the Welsh students were and they tell us what they think about this education system so we do learn a lot about South Korea’s high schools, which are among the top in the world.

The episode here raises the question of whether this intensity is worth it. It mentions the international test scores and gives the ranks, but it doesn’t give us the spread. Are the top 50 schools pretty close to each other or is their a wide spread between them?

Like Wales, Americans can improve and intensity their curriculum, but neither country is going to start having students study till midnight in cram schools so if Westerners study five hours a day in school and a few hours at home, they would never surpass students who are in a formal classroom from 8 am till midnight.

I think it’s better to have a balanced life and be able to work on projects, which emulate post-graduation work, than just to memorize.

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Seoul Pics

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Touring Seoul

When Tanis and I visited Seoul we saw lots of young women in traditional hanboks, which gave our tour an extra sense of history. Above I’ve added a video of two Korean vloggers who explain that if you come in traditional dress, you get in free.

Another tip: As we exited the subway we passed a group of high school students volunteering to take tourists around Gyeongbuk Palace. I’m so glad we accepted the offer. Jin, whose English was quite polished, gave tours once a month to further his English and deepen his understanding of history. The tour was more than just your run of the mill “Look to the left, look to the right.” Whoever devised the tour included lots of Q and A so it’s very interactive and exceeded my expectations. It’s absolutely free.

Spring 2016 China 070

Tanis (center) with two Korean women

Socialism, Right

You may not like their system, but you can’t call it bleak & you can’t say they aren’t free

The last few times I’ve gone to YouTube, I’ve had to watch a manipulative, or should I say extra manipulative, political advertisement. It consists of an old many talking about his bleak youth living under communism, which he calls socialism.

I know what the man lived through was true. The black and white photos that the video shows might be from his childhood or before that. There are no photos of say Russia prior to the Revolution, when people also were dirt poor, uneducated, and living in squalor. Yes, life under Mao, Stalin and Lenin and the like was horrible. I don’t contest that. But Obama has not brought us down like that NOR does he want to.

The commercial is just rabble rousing. Nothing more.

It does not feature any of the success stories of socialism like Sweden, Norway or Denmark, where people are free. One can open a business and one can get healthcare no matter what if you have cancer, etc. Are there long waits? I’m not sure, but the wait times in the U.S. are long. If I wanted to see a dermatologist say, I’d have to wait months for my appointment. Yet, when I was in South Korea the wait was one day.

Who Knew?

As I’m still digging up information and dreaming about the 1893 World’s Fair, I happened to learn that Korea is hosting the 2012 World Expo.

Huh? There’s a new World Expo coming up? Really? When does it start? Where is it?

Today. That’s right today. In Yeosu Korea, wherever that is.

I have seen nothing about this. I went to Shanghai‘s World Expo in 2010 and didn’t know there’d be another so soon.

I do watch, read and listen to the news regularly and although I live in neighboring China, I haven’t heard anything about this event.  Are they even bothering to make this event international? I suppose there won’t be any best selling books written about this 110 years from now.

Pavillion for the World Expo

Why is this such a well kept secret? Are they finished and ready to begin? Would they rather people wait before coming?

Jinan Central Hospital

Jinan Central Hospital

I accompanied a colleague and a translator to Jinan Central Hospital. I had braced myself for squalor and chaos since that’s what I found at Shandong Provincial Hospital the one hair-raising time I went there. This colleague had gotten a Chinese friend in Shanghai to look into hospitals here. I’d asked my Chinese friends in Jinan and they all recommend the provincial hospital.

Well, the central hospital has an international department so the receptionist and nurses spoke English. We arrived at 2 pm and were done in 45 minutes with her prescriptions in hand and paid for. Now this wasn’t like a hospital in the U.S. or South Korea, scrubbed and shiny. It was dark and dingy and paint was coming of the walls, but it wasn’t too bad. My colleague had an appointment and we were seen right on time. The doctor spoke some English and the nurse was so friendly that we were at ease. There were parts that were different than what we experience in the US. Privacy wasn’t an issue so I was expected to go in along with the patient and translator. When we moved to the examination in the doctor’s office (rather than the first office) all three of us were supposed to stick together. The doctor examined the patient on a couch in her office rather than on one of those examination tables with white paper. The room didn’t seem as clinical as I expected. But all seems well.

At the provincial hospital when you’re getting examined, throngs are in the room with you. The doctor is seated at a desk and dozens of people are talking or yelling at him as he scribbles requests for tests or prescriptions. I have no idea how patients get the right medicine. Luck I suppose.

Published

Although I became resigned to the fact that the Korean police weren’t going to exert themselves in investigating my cyber crime, one friend of mine kept trying to find ways to move forward. I knew it was a futile effort, but I also know that this friend is more or less stuck in Korea till he retires in 10 years and that he was getting some satisfaction from the project. Every now and then he’d ask me to provide information as he tried to get lawyer friends to intervene.

While it was a lost cause, sometimes I think people can’t be talked out of things and that circumstances are the best teacher. I often liken this to learning to walk. The best coach is gravity. You can’t tell a child “If you try to go to fast . . .” or “If you put your foot down like that, you’ll probably fall.” They need the experience not words to teach them. So finally, my friend has concluded that nothing can be done. He needed several lawyers to convince him. When I started to try, he thought I was a quitter. It was best to let it work out this way.

Well, I did see that that experience should not be for naught. Ne’er do wells got away with something and they’ll try again. Yet vengeance is is foolish. One big problem that was as bad as the crime itself was that the police didn’t follow through and acted in a strange fashion. They went to the crime scene and collected evidence. They did some interviews and never looked at what they collected. Also, they refused to contact the internet services like Yahoo! and Google to obtain evidence. They gave me a song and dance about not being able to obtain the evidence, but both companies told me what was needed and I found out that Korea and the U.S. have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty so investigation beyond the evidence they sat on was possible. As time wore on it was easier to see that any foreigner and many Koreans would have been ignored.

The only thing I could do, though perhaps not all that effective would be to write to the newspaper. They did publish my editorial which objectively calls for better services for crime victims. I realize few will read it, but I have the satisfaction of having done all I could. Here’s the editorial. Not my best work, but okay.

Also, if there’s any crime victims who need the text of this treaty along with the form and directions on how the police should fill it out and submit it, contact me.

Disclaimer

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