Saturday, July 2, 2011

More Random Observations

I hope everybody has a great 4th of July weekend.  I have never been truly proud to be an American until I lived outside of the States.  When people ask me where I am from, I tell them that I am from America, and do so with a lot of pride.  Many of the foreigners here are from Canada, South Africa, The UK, and Australia.  Americans have an indescribable swagger that becomes more evident when you see them interact with other foreigners outside of the states.

As an American, there are many things to be proud of.  Here is the source of my swagger.  I am proud to be a gun owner.  I am proud of edgy rock music, which is virtually nonexistent in Korea.  I am proud of American Football.  I talk about my favorite southern American dishes with a great deal of pride.  I love the look people give me when I tell them that I drive an SUV back home.  I am proud of my sense of style that is different than most here.  More on that later in the post.  Most Koreans love Americans, and sort of look at us like Richie Cunningham looks at Fonzie.  

July 4th has only recently become one of my favorite holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving are family holidays.  The 4th of July is a holiday for communities.  It is an opportunity to celebrate not only with family, but more importantly, with friends and neighbors.  Although we may have differing opinions on exactly what it is that America should stand for, the beauty of America is that we are allowed to peacefully disagree.  I encourage all Americans to get out, be with your friends and neighbors, see your local fireworks display, and celebrate the fact that you live in the greatest country on the planet.

I was even more proud when a random Korean, who happened to study in the states, stopped me on the street, and asked me, "Are you a southerner?"

I said, "Yeah, I'm from Louisiana.  How can you tell?"

"I went to Auburn.  You look like a stereotypical southerner.  I can tell by your hair, your workboots, your jeans, your polo shirt, and your costas.  I can pick out a southerner from a mile away, especially now that I am away from the it."  I enjoyed that conversation.  The rest of it was spent talking SEC football.

I feel bad for the youth of South Korea.  Much like westerners, they go to their regular school from 7:30am to 2:00pm, where they will be required to do lots of homework.  The similarities end there.

The youth of Korea works extremely hard.  On some weeks, they are required to attend school on Saturday.  Korean parents pay thousands of dollars a month to send their sons and daughters to these after-school academies where they will learn English, Math, Chinese, Piano, and etc.  These academies hold classes late into the night, and are usually more difficult, and assign more homework than their regular schools.  So when these kids get home, as late as it may be, they still have hours of homework to complete.  Because parents pay money to these academies, they demand results, so more pressure is put on the children.  These kids spend hours a day completing various homework assignments, and preparing for upcoming tests.

When I first started working, I would ask them, "What did you do last weekend?"

I would get the same answer every time, "I studied."  Friday and Saturday nights are spent studying.  Sometimes they let loose on Sunday afternoons, but they are unable to stay out late, because they have to go to school the next day.  Partying and hanging out with friends on a Friday and Saturday night are extremely foreign concepts to the average Korean teenager.  I now ask them, "What did you do last Sunday?"  Or if it's at the end of the week, I'll ask, "What will you do this Sunday?"  A large portion of Sundays are spent studying as well.  But their time to have fun with friends, or to simply relax, however short it may be, is spent on Sunday.  I feel bad for them.

I've had the opportunity to give numerous students of mine English names.  Boys are a lot easier to name.  They'll take any name that you give them.  Girls are a lot more picky.  I simply give them names that sound similar to their Korean names.  I have a little fun with boys.  Some notable names include Antoine, Clyde, Tyrone, J.W. (short for John Wayne), Waylon, Larry, Kingsley, and Chaz.  


  1. Happy 4th Chris!
    p.s. I'm totally stealing the name Tyrone lol ahhahah

  2. Happy 4th of July, Mom and I are in Washington DC. I know you would enjoy the history. Wish you could be with us. We love you and miss you.