Sunday, May 31, 2009
Quarantined English Teachers in South Korea -- FREEDOM! For some of them anyway--don't forget the ones still in isolation.
An English Teacher Under Quarantine in South Korea writes about it . . .
Ruby Ramblings is out of quarantine--see the post, We’re free, and confused.
Due to An English Teacher Under Quarantine in South Korea's--a.k.a. "Lando"-- mature and professional attitude he removed all pictures of himself to help his hogwan deal with the negative image problem it's been having due to the misinformation and xenophobia that are a part of the Swine Flu experience in Korea.
Choosing Lando Calrissian as his avatar--how cool is that?
I learned a lot about who "Lando" is through the writing on his blog and some email correspondence. He's a survivor and his sense of humor as a coping strategy and stress reducing strategy illuminate some of the key character traits you have to have to live and teach in Korea.
From the start of the quarantine where the medical staff screwed up by allowing the detained teachers to socialize with each other, not replacing their one day use masks every day with new ones, not reviewing with them how to wash their hands properly when taking off and putting on their masks, not reviewing information about the Swine Flu with them until days later, moving people into different rooms without decontaminating the rooms first and putting in new sheets, lack of hygiene maintenance in the washrooms (refilling paper tower dispensers for example), not decontaminating the ear thermometer as it moved from room to room, no gloves on medical staff at the beginning, not removing garbage and recycling that quickly piled up due to it being bio-hazardous waste, introducing new quarantined teachers into the population of already existing teachers thereby renewing their risk of exposure, not checking gifts and care packages coming into the facility for booze, cigarettes, and other contraband that put the quarantine back two paces for every day it moved forward . . . these things and more were overcome by the foreign teachers in quarantine--and I'm pretty sure that "Lando's" sense of humour helped the other people he was with too.
All of this bad stuff being said "Lando" reassures people that "the medical staff, they really pulled through and turned a tough situation into a great experience. I think everyone learned a lot in those first few days and once things got settled everyone was on the same team. Dr. Lee and the others were top rate, always taking time to answer our questions and make us feel at home."
I don't know if Ruby Ramblings is free and out of quarantine, but I do know that Sparkling Chaos with Brian Dear is out of quarantine and more importantly Just got out.. of a "high-security military facility" where he was treated professionally by highly competent nurses and medical staff. It's good to know that once you are officially diagnosed with Swine Flu that the facilities and staff are top notch--thanks Brian.
I'm not sure how many English teachers are still in quarantine . . . I'm going to try and find out and later post links and/or the info itself.
Roboseyo and Ratemyhogwan and BrianinJeollonamdo have been a part of the group sending in care packages to the quarantined teachers (for example, here and here) so let's not forget the people still in isolation, and if you're able to send something to them they'd really appreciate it.
You can read about how Rob from Roboseyo actually went with people to drop off care packages in his post called, Care Package at the Quarantine.
It looks like the most recent organizing post for where and how to send care packages is here from Ratemyhogwan.
BrianinJeollonamdo usually has the most comprehensive updates and links about the quarantined teachers situation. See here for an example of his latest update.
Here's hoping the situation diminishes and nobody else is quarantined.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Britian's Got Talent -- Diversity's Magic vs. Boyle's 'ugly OLD duckling with a nightingale's voice'
I posted this comment on Brian's story about her,
Paul Potts was an A+ for an overall performance caliber that Boyle fails to match.
Boyle coasted on her personality and over the top grand standing gestures. She does have a phenomenal voice/instrument, and good musicality. But her phrasing and how she sang each line of the song lacked the magic that sends shivers up one's spine.
I can't believe people are comparing Pott's to this boil--oops, I meant Boyle.
Boyle is at best a B+ . . . simply put, she's not even in the same grade level as Potts.
Yes--I have 'Simon DNA' . . . lol. I refuse to buy into the 'be nice' rhetoric when evaluating a performance to the point that I think I do what Simon might be doing--create a counter-discourse against the 'awww, isn't she so wonderful?' discourse that tries to enforce a taboo against being critical once the majority has decided to applaud something and then enforce the 'no criticism and be nice' rule . . .
Now THIS is an example of talent!
Click on this link, Diversity - Dance Act - Britains Got Talent 2009, to see their audition.
Paul Potts' audition, (Britain's Got Talent ) Paul Potts' 1st Audition
After watching Diversity and Potts is there anyone who still thinks Boyle should have been cast as a leading contender for the competition? Maybe . . . but why? Do your reasons have more to do about how you feel about Susan Boyle the woman (and the mass media narrative of 'oh look at this poor old spinster ugly duckling woman who nobody wanted to marry and oh my god she never had children and she's all alone with a cat--let's help her win Britain's Got Talent so that her miserable life will have a modicum of happiness and maybe because she's never been kissed (bullshit) she'll finally be able to get married and be happy . . .)--or are they actually about her overall performance?
Susan Boyle's audition, Susan Boyle - Singer - Britains Got Talent 2009
Paul Potts is a great comparison with Susan because he's also pretty much what most people would describe as not handsome--Susan gets the ugly label because expectations of beauty for women are much higher than they are for men. Add to the mix that Paul's humble and unassuming nice guy character gets him a boost in overall image whereas Susan's eccentric personality and overt independence are generally seen as unappealing in a woman--even today. Some might argue that that is what won the audience over because she put her performance where her mouth was--but I'd argue that it is because people see her outspokenness as unappealing that the 'ugly OLD duckling with a nightingale's voice' phenomenon exploded and helped her to get to the finals of the show.
Take a look at the Semi Final performances of Diversity vs. Boyle.
Sorry Susan, not even close to being at the caliber of talent that Diversity showed.
And lastly, SUSAN BOYLE FINAL PERFORMANCE Britains Got Talent Final
which is incomparable with Diversity's final,
Diversity: Dance Group - Britain's Got Talent 2009 - The Final
Take a look at the BBC's article, At-a-glance: Britain's Got Talent finalists, if you've been like me and too busy to follow the show closely.
All I have to say is this: if you're going to perform an extremely famous song that a lot of your audience has seen live on Broadway, and/or listened to many times so much so that they know the lyrics, and you don't create a magical performance . . . you lose.
When a person watches a performance of any kind and experiences that magical shiver flicker like lightning from their toes to the top of their head and back down again it is the sign of being in the presence of TRUE TALENT. I call this my 'shiver meter.' It's how I know I'm watching something that embodies true talent . . .
Susan Boyle failed to produce her own magic and display the talent that people CLAIMED she has--but never displayed.
I'll end with this video performance of "I dreamed a dream" from Les Miserables because after watching Susan butcher a lot of the musicality that is INHERENT in the song, and massacre the character's pain and suffering through her lack of stage presence and emotions appropriate to the song's lyrics and story--well, I NEED to cleanse my eyes and ears.
Check it out.
"readers may find the website quite useful when seeking out movie times or general theater information while in Korea."
For people living in the Gangwon province area . . . don't be fooled by the Google map with no flags marking locations of theaters in our province. I don't know why, but apparently nobody living out here has flagged theater locations . . . or something.
The website does have info for Gangwon province--look for the link location names listed below the map.
I was immediately curious about who the author of this fine piece of reporting was--By David Chazan, BBC News--but he isn't Korean.
From the article, "The researchers said the results were far from scientifically proven and if kimchi did have the effects they observed, it was unclear why. " (my bold, my italics)
"Kimchi was reported to have helped to prevent Sars. The claim was never scientifically proven, but according to some Koreans, people in other countries followed their example and started eating kimchi. So one of Korea's national specialities may soon find a much bigger market. Whether it really is an effective remedy, only time and more research will tell." (my bold, my italics)
Of course, none of these things are going to matter . . . the only thing I'm going to hear about if this is brought up next week is that kimchi was in a news story on the BBC about how it prevents SARS.
Thank you BBC--not!
Friday, May 29, 2009
ChrisinSouthKorea has a blog posting of pics he took while he was at President Roh's funeral--I wish I could have gone too.
Check it out.
Thanks for sharing with us Chris.
***Read Ask a Korean's post before you even consider looking at mine. His post has a breadth and depth that I can't even begin to get close to . . . my post is merely an attempt to get people to do a bit of reading on their own, and to share my general impressions about the man based on a very limited amount of reading. Ask a Korean's post is the one to read--period.
This morning in my 3 hour lecture with the Korean in-service trainees for the 6 month Intensive English Training Program I was shocked to see so much grief on their faces.
One of the trainees, a woman in her 30s, was almost openly crying in class. In fact, at one point she was crying but hid it well.
The 3 hour lecture began at 9 and when the 10:10 to 11:00 hour ended I went to the bathroom, refilled my water bottle, and came back to find the computer and power point projector being used to watch the live TV feed from the Internet for the funeral . . .
The class captain asked me if it'd be okay if they watch a few minutes of the funeral--and I said yes, of course.
Surprisingly, after about 3 minutes several of the trainees looked over at me standing against the wall watching the screen and surreptitiously watching them to see their reactions . . . and they asked me to turn it off and continue with my reading strategies lecture--wow.
I 'understand' why Koreans are so affected by President Roh's death and suicide, but I don't understand it in the way that Koreans do. What I mean by this is that Koreans think with their hearts (an idea I read about in "Korea's Place in The Sun") and when you mix that with the social family paradigm you get the entire country grieving for the death of this man as though their own father had died . . . it's something that foreign people really can't comprehend fully no matter how long we live and teach here. We can get a glimpse of this powerful Korean mind-heart and the passionate intensity of thought-feelings expressed from the core of one's being . . . . but I truly believe that we can never totally experience it, and never fully KNOW it.
I decided that I NEED to do some reading about President Roh's life because I'm 99.9999% certain that it's going to come up in those organic tangential discussions that always happen during a lecture.
While reading I was listening to music off of youtube, and Paul Pott's performance of "La Prima Volta für Flashmob in Oberhausen" in the middle of a shopping mall food court . . . well, it actually made me a little choked up . . .
In a strange kind of way the lyrics of the song feel appropriate to me while writing about trying to understand the love that the Korean people have for President Roh, and the intensity of grief that is being expressed.
From wikipedia's entry,
Roh Moo-hyun (Korean pronunciation: [no mu hjʌn]) (6 August 1946 – 23 May 2009) was the 16th President of South Korea (2003–2008). Before entering politics, he was a human rights lawyer.
Roh's election was notable for the arrival to power of a new generation in Korean politics, the so-called 386 Generation, (i.e. people in their thirties when the word was coined, who had attended university in the 1980s, and who were born in the 1960s).
Reading this I have to wonder how many of the teacher trainees I have in my class were a part of the 386 Generation . . . I wonder about the kind experiences they must have had living through this period of Korean history . . .
This generation had been veterans of student protests against authoritarian rule, and advocated an assertively nationalist line towards the United States and Japan, and a conciliatory approach towards North Korea. They took up many positions on Roh's staff.
Wow . . . so some of the teachers in my class may, and likely were, political activists. I have no idea if this is true or not but it's something to consider. I think that teachers often make the same mistake that students make and erase the humanity, the identity, and personal history of their students because of how institutionalized the teacher-student relationship has become . . . by actively engaging in research about what impacts my students, and by actively humanizing my Korean trainees enables a deeper understanding of what takes place in my classroom--and at the most simple level is an act of developing and deepening compassion for them as they grieve in spite of my difficulties in understanding the WHY of their grief . . .
Roh was born in 1946 to a farming family in Gimhae, near Busan, in southeastern South Korea. In 1960, he led a protest at his school against mandatory essays extolling then-President Syngman Rhee. A high school graduate who never attended university, he worked at odd jobs after serving in the Korean army.
(my italics, my bold)
Alright . . . I'm really starting to realize that this is a man who defies the typical stereotypes of passive mindless obedience to authority that too often characterize how Korean culture and people are seen by new foreign teachers (I was one of those) . . . after living and teaching here, and learning more about the history and culture of Korea it becomes apparent that this is not true.
In 1981, he defended students who had been tortured for possession of contraband literature. In early 2003, he was quoted as saying, "When I saw their horrified eyes and their missing toenails, my comfortable life as a lawyer came to an end. I became a man that wanted to make a difference in the world."
I'm beginning to get a better sense of who 'Roh the man' was . . .
He opposed the autocracy in place at the time in South Korea, and participated in the pro-democracy June Struggle in 1987 against Chun Doo-hwan.
Not something you did lightly at that time. The risks of physical injury, jail time, and other penalties . . . wow.
He grilled the government over political corruption allegations in a parliamentary hearing, which won him his first public attention.
In 1990, he did not participate in the Democratic Liberal Party and he criticized Kim Young-sam. Instead, he joined the Democratic Party, a faction of the Democratic Reuinification Party. He ran for re-election in 1992, but was defeated. He ran for the mayor of Busan in 1995, but was defeated by the candidate of Democratic Liberal Party. Shortly after the election, Kim Dae-jung founded the National Congress for New Politics, but Roh criticized the party and Kim Dae-jung unfavorably. (my bold, my italics)
In 2000, Roh was appointed as the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries under Kim Dae-jung, and this position would later constitute his only real government experience prior to the presidency. Roh would later use his lack of experience to his advantage in a populist presidential campaign, depicting himself as a newcomer and outsider unbeholden to the traditional business and political elites. Roh won the presidency on 19 December 2002, by defeating Lee Hoi-chang with a narrow 2% margin of victory. Roh's surprise election was made possible by a last minute Internet and text message campaign that targeted younger voters, as well as a wave of anti-American sentiment that had swept the country in the previous year.
(my bold, my italics)
Roh must have been a breath of fresh air for the suffocating Korean people under the previous administrations. This is something that as a Canadian I have no personal basis from which to relate to and understand how Koreans, especially the 30-something generation/young voters who supported him, are grieving the loss of this man.
Reading the rest of the wikipedia entry on Roh it looks like he was a very HUMAN president. That he was not this untouchable unapproachable man ringed by riot police and water canons unlike someone else in office . . .
Three months into his presidency, Roh bolstered skepticism about his ability and experience when he stated, "I feel incompetent as president and a sense of crisis that I will not be able to perform my presidential duties." Roh set the tone of his administration with a number of political gambles, including threats to quit pursuant to a national referendum, and measures to uncover and reveal the names of the descendants of Japanese collaborators more than six decades after the Japanese had left Korea. The investigations, criticized as politically motivated, and coming far too late to provide any substantive redress, mostly resulted in damage to his own party members.
(my bold, my italics)
I don't know the history and politics of this well enough to make an informed opinion . . . that being said my sense of a president being willing to investigate collaborators is a good thing regardless of the passage of time.
Reading through the section about Roh's presidency after the attempted impeachment seems to illuminate the primary problem for Roh as a president that is mentioned earlier in the text: "In 2000, Roh was appointed as the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries under Kim Dae-jung, and this position would later constitute his only real government experience prior to the presidency." (my italics, my bold)
Roh was a man of big dreams yet seemed to lack the political saavy to make them come true. One of these dreams was,
As part of his "balanced national development" campaign to reverse the concentration of wealth in Seoul, Roh also pursued a plan to relocate the capital 100 miles away to Chungcheong . . . After much controversy, the Constitutional Court obviated Roh's plans by ruling that the relocation of the capital was unconstitutional, thus inflicting a huge blow to Roh's political standing. Roh's plan was then amended to the creation of an "administrative capital," though this plan too never saw completion.
(my italics, my bold)
I think the song "Le Temps De Vivres" (see an original performance by George Moustaki here) is a song Roh might have liked,
D'etre libres mon amour
Sans projets et sans habitudes
Nous pourrons rever notre vie
Viens, je suis las, je n'attends que toi
Tout est possible, tout est permis
Viens, ecoute, les mots qui vibrent
Sur les murs du mois de mai
Ils te disent la certitude
Que tout peut changer un jour
Nous prendrons le temps de vivre
D'etre libres mon amour...
Roh definitely was a man of vision and I have to respect him for pursuing his dreams in spite of almost insurmountable odds.
Another piece of music sung by Chanticleer I was listening to while reading and writing this blog,
During the visit, Roh proclaimed he would not seek any more apologies from Japan over its colonial occupation, in the hope of maintaining a friendly relationship between the two countries. Although Roh's proclamation was made in good faith, some expressed concern that Japan may have interpreted this as the termination of its responsibility for the colonial past, and use it as an excuse to deny any claims for compensation that may arise in the future.
On this particular issue I have some issues with wondering how Roh the human rights lawyer and activist would even consider doing something like this . . . the Comfort Women have not yet had their grievances fully resolved and an official apology given to them by the Japanese government.
If anything says how much Roh was liked by the people of Korea it might be this,
After leaving office, Roh retired to Bongha Maeul, a small village in his hometown. This marked a break with previous custom, where former presidents retired to heavily guarded houses in Seoul.
I really don't know what to think about this . . . I remember reading about it when the Korean news was talking about it . . .
Since he left office, an investigation found that 238 computer disks, including the 72-terabyte presidential records of Roh administration "disappeared" from the presidential residence sometime before President Lee Myung-bak took office in February 2008. Roh claimed that it was approved by President Lee. This disappearance was controversial for a few months, and ended with Roh returning the archives.
And finally a series of events that lead to the loss Korea is now grieving for . . .
Roh's self-righteous stance resulted in harsh condemnation of the ex-President for hypocrisy when the scandal broke, a criticism he himself acknowledged in a message on his website when he stated, "I have lost my moral cause just with the facts I have so far admitted. The only thing left is the legal procedure" Roh further added, "What I have to do now is bow to the nation and apologize. From now on, the name Roh cannot be a symbol of the values you pursue. I'm no longer qualified to speak about democracy and justice.... You should abandon me." Despite these appeals, Roh continued to deny all knowledge of the receipt of money by his family from Park Yeon-Cha, in contradiction to Park's testimony. Roh refused cross-examination with Park.
And this is why I want the investigation to be re-opened. Roh's name should be cleared of these allegations if he was innocent. If the investigation is never re-opened his name will always have the taint of corruption on it that diminishes him as a human rights lawyer and man of the Korean people . . .
Roh Moo-Hyun died on 23 May 2009 after jumping from a 30-meter (100 ft) high cliff known as Bueong'i Bawi (lit. Owl's Rock) behind his rural home in the village of Bongha. He sustained serious head injuries and was sent to a hospital in the nearby city of Busan at around 8:15 a.m. (23:15 GMT) and pronounced dead at around 9:30 a.m. (00:30 GMT). According to his lawyer, Roh left a suicide note on his computer saying life was "difficult" and apologized for making "too many people suffer."
Roh's last words,
I have owed to too many people. The amount of burden I have caused to them is too great. I can't begin to fathom the countless agonies down the road. The rest of my life would only be a burden for others. I am unable to do anything because of poor health. I can't read books, nor can I write. Do not be too sad. Isn't life and death all part of nature? Do not be sorry. Do not feel resentment toward anyone. It is fate. Cremate me. And leave only a small tombstone near home. I've thought this for a while.
And I'll end this post with two songs that I think offer some solace to Korea.
- Do not stand at my grave and weep,
- I am not there, I do not sleep.
- I am in a thousand winds that blow,
- I am the softly falling snow.
- I am the gentle showers of rain,
- I am the fields of ripening grain.
- I am in the morning hush,
- I am in the graceful rush
- Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
- I am the starshine of the night.
- I am in the flowers that bloom,
- I am in a quiet room.
- I am in the birds that sing,
- I am in each lovely thing.
- Do not stand at my grave and cry,
- I am not there. I did not die.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I don't know why but I hadn't clued into how if I put up 10 posts in a row that it really disrupts the flow of the stream and clogs up peoples' mail boxes . . .
So with this in mind I refer to this scene in Finding Nemo,
"I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food."
I've adapted it for my own uses,
"I am a nice Twitterer, not a mindless Twitter. If I am to change this Twit, I must first change my Twitself. Twits are short, not long."
To all the other Twits out there on my stream--sorry for the Twitanity.
p.s. Making Twitologisms is fun--ha!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Bought 3M Hand Instant Sanitizer tonight . . . OH MY GOD! Foreign English Teacher spending his birthday in quarantine for Swine Flu???!
Press play to begin the soundtrack . . . and then press play on the next video.
Behold . . . I give to you,
3M Hand Instant Sanitizer
From wikipedia's entry on Respirator,
|N95||Filters at least 95% of airborne particles|
The most common of these is the disposable white N95 variety. The entire unit is discarded after some extended period or a single use, depending on the contaminant. Filter masks also come in replaceable-cartridge, multiple-use models. Typically one or two cartridges attach securely to a mask which has built into it a corresponding number of valves for inhalation and one for exhalation.
Now my only problem is choosing how to decorate it like An English Teacher Under Quarantine in South Korea . . .
From An English Teacher Under Quarantine in South Korea,
"So my awesome friends and fellow quarantinees (sp?) made me an awesome crown/hat/tribal mask thingy for my 30th birthday today. It’s made of cans, masks, plastic bottles, toilet paper, and a whole lotta love! EVERYBODY, and I mean EVERYBODY--go and wish him a happy birthday by emailing him at email@example.com
I'm gonna go do that right now.
The women had a pretty polished act. Even getting into position and climbing up to the top of the web was done with style and grace.
The guys running around with vid cams and SLRs had a lot of fun--so did I, for that matter.
It kind of surprises me--when it shouldn't--that a lot of people sat DIRECTLY under the performers . . .
A fair number of foreign people turned out . . .
Setting up . . . .
More people . . .
Dropping the ropes they used to get up in the air . . .
And now for some cool I'm-hanging-in-the-air-with-a-look-of-mystery pics . . .
I LOVE THIS PIC! Serenity personified . . .
Another of my favorites in this series . . .
Nice . . .
Monday, May 25, 2009
She was pretty good but her material lacked in originality and magic . . .
Seriously . . . a mime doing the 'washing the windows' routine? If you pull out this one at an INTERNATIONAL festival for mimes shouldn't there be some kind of original twist on the material? Something that hasn't been seen before . . . oh well.
As far as stage presence goes she didn't have the caliber of other-worldliness that the first mime had . . . her expressions reminded me of Korean comedians on TV--not that of a mime.
And then came some kind of hybrid mime-ballet dance posture thing . . .
Hmmmm . . . it's too subtle . . . I don't get the message . . . why choose a swan?
The story seemed to be the woman saying goodbye to her husband who was going on a business trip . . .
She then meets a stranger wearing sunglasses, a hat, and trench coat . . . I wonder if trench coats have the same cultural connotations in Korean culture as they do in western?
How does a mime show the 'climax' of the story? You faint . . . okay.
Giving the peace sign as she gets kissed by the other guy . . . nice.
Part 3 coming soon . . .