With Great Power…

September 14, 2010

I finally had the chance to tour my town’s nuclear power plant this weekend, charmingly referred to as the “Energy Farm”. Strangely enough, the information desk had the best English map of Uljin-gun I’ve seen since I arrived. I grabbed a few copies for potential Couchsurfers, and made my way to the timeline room.

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It’s pretty much what you would expect for a kid-friendly, toning-down-the-danger kind of place. A timeline of the history of nuclear energy (that did not include nuclear weapons testing). Displays of different types of power: wind, geothermal, solar, hydroelectric, biofuel. There was even a game I couldn’t quite figure out, that seemed to require you to stabilize the uranium before it went critical.

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There are four nuclear plants in Korea. The one in Bugu has five active reactors, and, based on the construction and number of foreigners pouring in, seems to be working on a sixth. All in all, they account for 45% of the electrical consumption in the country… that’s a lot.

I’m also referring to the power I hold as a teacher. I just kind of slipped back into the position, but recently I’ve been starting to think about just how influential my teachers at age 6, 7, 8, 9, etc. were to me; I remember them all. Some fondly, some less than fondly. But I’d hate to be remembered as someone these kids despised. I’m good at speaking to the older classes, but I’m thinking everyone under the age of eight at that school won’t like me unless I let them leave class to get water every five seconds (which they ask) or have them play games every day. It just isn’t going to happen. I can live with that.

Today I was teaching my Red and Orange classes about body parts and asking questions regarding their friend’s appearance. For example, “do you have green hair?” and “who has brown eyes?”

When I wanted them to describe me, however…

“Do I have brown hair?”

“YES, YOU DO!”

“Do I have two eyes?”

“YES, YOU DO!”

“Good. Do I have six feet?”

(One student looked just to be sure)

I couldn’t help but laugh a little, him thinking I might have six feet. I suppose it’s possible he recognized the word “feet” before “six” and instinctively looked down.

I also think I need to be more aware of any physical contact. Now that the students have a remedial grasp of my personality, I don’t really have a problem poking them when they try to sleep or whacking one (softly) on the head if they make an obvious mistake. Still, I don’t want to be misunderstood.

I’ve always been considering long term goals, wondering if Korea is a country where I could eventually be accepted, with enough adaptation to the culture and language practice. That was never a possibility in Japan, but I’m keeping an open mind about Korea, and using only firsthand knowledge this time around: no stories from expats, and no blogs.

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