Monday, May 17, 2010

unusual/racist story in textbook

So there was a video scene in a kid asked her "mother" what time it was. The girl was south Asian-perhaps Indian or from Pakistan and the lady was African-American. The kids noticed the difference and large numbers of them snickered. There is another character in the book who is African-American so I know the kids weren't snickering just because there was a black character. They started snickering when the black lady entered the scene, after they had already seen the south Asian girl. I really don't know what GEPIK was thinking. Was their intention that it seem that the black lady had adopted a south Asian girl or were they downplaying the difference in color between the two females? I really don't know what they were doing but it seems really misguided.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

brain droppings...

Some interesting things with very little relation to one another, but at least worth writing down:

  • Today went into a police station-my crime is having loved pajeon too much-and it was abandoned. The door was open but it was cleared out. There were a couple of small desks, but that was it. The door was open, there were no barriers telling you that you couldn't go in, so me and a fellow English teacher just walked right in. I just can't imagine seeing that in the States. I imagine they are re-modeling or moving to a larger building. If a police station was closed in the States, I imagine the security around it would be quite tight and certainly there would be no way to physically get into the station. I can't really remember ever having seen an empty police station. It reminded me of that Stephen King movie "The Langoliers where passengers disembark into an abandoned airport. Very strange to just be able to walk around in an abandoned police station.

  • The Korean word for apple is the same word as that for apology. Consequently, in order to atone for something wrong, Koreans sometimes give someone an apple. It has obviously a bit of a double meaning. Also, the Korean word for Grandma is harmony. I found that out last year when I read it while teaching the kids. It was written in English and the kids said, "teacher, Grandma!". I thought that was nice because obviously Grandmas are often associated with all things nice.

  • The Korean word for "friend" is the same as the "f" word in Spanish. A bit ironic really, and it makes me giggle when I think about how I could possibly get out of a tight situation in southern California if I said that-"dude, you're my friend-if we were in Korea" "Oh, you barely got out of that one dude." "Nah, I'm for real, the Korean word for friend is chingu." "Well, you better get your ass outta here 'fore I change my mind."

  • You haven't really been embarrassed until you've had to explain what the word "d***head" is.

  • Had to tell a Korean friend that the Irish word "craic" cannot be used with "my" or "your" or "his" (or "a"), because its meaning could easily be misconstrued and so it must be used solely with "the".

  • Went to Songtan recently which is where the Osan Air Force Base is. I have to say, it was as if I could do what Dorothy did and tap my heels together and be transported to another place. That place would have been Anytown, USA. Yeah, it was cool for an evening, perhaps even one evening every couple of months. But not more than that. Itaewon is Gyeongbokgung compared to Songtan. I didn't see an awful lot of Koreans where we were hanging out. Again, not complaining because it wasn't bad to have a fatty burger and home comforts, but I don't think I am into doing it too often. It's just not Korea.

  • It's really strange understanding so little of what goes on around one. The longer time goes on, the less I understand. Which is cool because when you're so clueless about what's going on because well, I'm just so ignorant that I can't be accountable for stuff, but not having ANY idea what people are talking about is a bit....well, I can't put my finger on it, but the Roots song "It Don't Feel Right" comes to mind. However, as Newton's Third Law of Motion indicated, for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. OK, so my becoming more unaware of what's going on around me isn't really a physical force (I'm just gifted that way...), but still, I've been going to a language exchange group the last couple of weeks and have been able to use some of the Korean I've picked up from studying. I don't know tons of Korean, but I do know quite a few words and I can read and write a bit, but didn't have too much opportunity to speak Korean at the hagwon last year because so much English was spoken there. Anyway, it's great to be learning some Korean and knowing that all the studying I did last year is bearing some fruit. I was reading the sentences in my book and I could pronounce them quite well and could read decently also. Anyway...fingers crossed on that.