Wednesday, September 22, 2004

You would think, that if you were going to point and yell "foreigner" at someone as they walked down the street, that you wouldn't do it in English. Just goes to show you. It's always funny when that happens here. Yesterday I was walking to school and I passed the schoolyard I pass everyday on my way to Ding Ding Dang. The boys and girls were in the courtyard doing their daily exercises. The girls in pink, the boys in blue. A group of girls looked my direction and one of them saw me, started grabbing her friends arms and yelling "Foreigner! Foreigner!" It's weird. I am positive they have seen white people before, and I wasn't wearing a loin cloth or a bone in my nose or anything at all exotic. I just waved and said "Hello". This of course resulted in the same peals of laughter that we get everywhere.

I was talking to one of my older students the other day about the school system here in Korea. She started telling me how when she turned 14 she had to cut her hair. "Had to?" I asked, "You mean your Mum made you cut your hair?" Nope. The school made her cut it off. Once girls start middle school they have to chop their hair into this ear-length bob. It is supposedly to prevent vanity and to save time. I was shocked. This is not the first time I have encountered this same approach to education. I attended a high school in South Africa (only as a visiting student) and they were shocked that at 16 I was aloud to wear makeup to school or have pierced ears, let alone a nose ring. It is just such a different perspective on the role of the schools and teachers.

Speaking of which, as I was walking past the school yesterday I also witnessed a student being smacked across the face. Hard. By a teacher. The student looked about 13 and the teacher was a full grown man. The kid hardly even reacted, despite the fact that he was slapped so hard I could hear it from across the street. One more reason why I won't be emigrating here to school my children!

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