Posted by: C. Cali Martin | October 9, 2009

A Waeguk’s Cultural Ponderings + Our Most Peaceful President

This afternoon, I met one of the Korean teachers for coffee at Starbuck’s near our hagwon. Her English isn’t incredible, but my Korean is total shit, so I can’t judge. We got on the subject of the differences in the educational systems of Korea and the U.S. I commented that if American schoolchildren studied at least half as much as Korean children, no one could contend with America for power – ever. If we had an education system half as productive and efficient as the Korean system (or the culture as educationally-oriented), America would be in a much better position in 20-30 years (in my opinion). She commented that the parents are too strict on their children to study; children only listen to what their parents tell them; they study too much. That’s really a complaint? She stated that the American system was better because we encouraged creativity. Koreans train their children to follow orders – to be robots in society. Conversely, American students play sports; they are creative; they are athletic; they think for themselves. I was astounded by the differing viewpoints – and the points she made, for each has its own merit. Realistically it is true that American children have those opportunities – the flaw is that they take advantage of those liberties. “Creativity” can be to blame for a lot of problems, both inside the classroom and out. However, I cannot but see her point – Korean children are automatons. We have had “incidents” at the school were teachers and students alike have exhibited this on numerous occasions. Is it possible to ever find an effective medium?

On a somewhat similar note: President Obama’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. Exciting! I do not profess to agree with every proclamation ordered by Mr. Obama; however, I think his policies have been, for the most part, reasonable, just, and well-thought-out. I also do not know much about politics and so am ignorant of many aspects of our country’s complex economic and political arenas. Even though I may not know the finer details, I am still aware of the public opinion of America, perhaps moreso than many of you reading this. Believe it or not, a lot of people do not like the U.S.! I hope, by the way, that those of you reading this are already aware of this fact. If this is news to you, please, crawl back into your hole and wait for the Second Coming. We are not the great beloved country we once were. This is not all due to the Bush adminitration, but they definitely helped “America” taste sour in many people’s mouths. President Obama has implored less-than-approachable nations to disban their nuclear weapons programs and terrorist regimes. That’s more than one can say for the Bush years. This way may not be the most productive, however, giving these countries a way out is essentially offering the proverbial olive branch – if they take it, there is potentially one less threat in the world; if they refuse, then we’ll bomb the hell of out them. Making the attempt at diplomacy is more politically savvy than aggressive behavior, is it not? I support the decision to award our President with the Nobel Peace Prize, just as I am proud to be an American. His approaches have drastically improved the way others view Americans – this can be seen in polls and even in day-to-day interactions with non-Americans. Thus, “Congrats, Mr. President. Please keep up the diplomatic endeavors and you will receive support from all across the globe”.


Also, South Korea and Japan have determined not to extend financial support to North Korea. The country is impoverished due to Communist regime under Kim Jong Il and required assistance – but not until nuclear weapons organizations are disbanded. The two countries will offer a “one time” deal to North Korea for financial support: eliminate the nuclear weapons programs and you will recieve the help you require. North Korea has determined to speak with President Obama and other members in Washington regarding this same issue and will therefore neglect to answer South Korea and Japan’s offer until they have met with officials in Washington. Hopefully both of these meetings with Kim Jong Il and North Korea will result in a favorable outcome for all parties. Negotiations and discourse are the first steps towards success.

Of course, I could always be wrong.


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