Floods ravage South Korea

Many of you are probably wondering how we are faring with the floods in South Korea right now. The rain is STILL coming down, but luckily most of the damage has been south of the city of Seoul. Some parts of southern Seoul have been affected, like the subway tracks that are underground and many of the stations in southern Seoul. But luckily, we have not experienced that.

More news on the floods and what’s happening here:

Landslides Caused by Heavy Downpours in Korea Kills More Than 20

(Arirang News)

Heavy rains cause fatal landslides in South Korea

(BBC News)

Landslides and floods kill 38 after worst downpour in nearly a century

(The Korea Times)

41 dead, 12 missing as heavy rains batter the nation

(The Korea Herald)






Learning about Dasol Son

I learned so much from my host student at Daeil Foreign Language High School. Her name is Dasol Son and she is a sophomore at the school. She applied for the privilege of becoming a host student to an American teacher and was paired with me as I was appointed to be teaching her class.

Classes tend to move in cohorts, with the same students in each class or most classes, and so they tend to have the same classes with the same teachers. So it was interesting to be able to talk with Dasol about her experiences with the Daeil school, as well as her fellow students, her study habits and her ultimate goals.

Dasol works hard. She spends most of her life right now in classes, studying (individually or in study groups) and preparing for classes. I asked her about her weekly schedule. She is in classes from 7 am until about 6 pm (with a few breaks here and there in the schedule). She has individual study time from 6-10 pm and either stays at school or spends that time at home in individual study.

From time to time, she may extend that study time until 11 pm or 12 midnight, depending on a test coming up, a paper that is due, or an upcoming deadline. Monday through Saturday, she maintains this schedule. Yes, you heard that right … Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, she attends church in the morning with her family, and then spends the rest of the day (afternoon and evening) working on homework and playing “catch-up” on classwork and coursework for the week ahead.

So the next time you are overwhelmed with homework and your schedule is making you feel like the walls are closing in on you, think about Dasol’s schedule. She’s probably still studying.   🙂

But why? Why is she doing all this work when she could be spending time going out with friends? Spending more time with her mom and dad? Or going to the movies with her brother, who is home from school at SUNY University in Buffalo, New York?

She wants to attend a prestigious college or university, either in Korea or in the United States. She knows that her future is in her hands. Her education is the key to her future success and she doesn’t want to lose. She wants to win … and win big! So she strives to be the best in all she does.

When I asked her if she was the top of her class, she laughed at me. She said she doesn’t study enough to be that alpha girl (see earlier post on alpha girls). But she said she definitely wants to be one of the top students in her class, so she continues to compete with the best and the brightest at Daeil Foreign Language High School.

What does she think about all this pressure? She said sometimes she gets overwhelmed by it all and has to have a “heart to heart” with her mother, her closest friend and confidante. But she said they talk about the reasons why an education is so important, how it will help her in the future, and what she can do to impact that future. She said once they have that conversation, and she is reminded by her mother that she can do this and how intelligent, bright and energetic that she is, it helps give her the fuel to keep working. Her mother is definitely her role model and her strength to keep succeeding.

So how do you really get to know someone and their family’s commitment to their educational success? You follow them home! That’s in my next blog entry …


Touring Daeil H.S. with Dasol Son, my host student

Upon arrival at the Daeil Foreign Language High School for our first day of class, we were greeted by our host students. Each host student was assigned an American teacher, who they escorted around the Daeil campus. They explained to us more about the school, the students, the faculty, the rigors of education at Daeil, and their highlights and challenges of attending Daeil High School.

Best of all, the host student visit included a trip home with the student to have dinner with their families and to visit with them in more detail. It was a great opportunity for students, parents and American teachers to talk in a more relaxed atmosphere about their lives in Seoul, South Korea. We were also able to talk about their weekly student schedules, how the Daeil School schedule has impacted the lives of the entire family, and what are their hopes and expectations of a Daeil education upon graduation.

My student’s name was Dasol Son. She is amazing! From the moment she introduced herself until she introduced me to her mother and brother at the end of the day, her English was spectacular. While she claimed that she struggles with English (but loves and seems to excel more with her fluency in Japanese), it was hard for me to notice any issues with her English because of her thorough and meticulous approach to making sure her sentences and thoughts were just right.

The host students did an excellent job presenting information about their school, their education programs and their college goals and aspirations upon graduation. They explained the different types of programs available throughout their tenure at Daeil High School, such as international voluntary programs and more than 30 active clubs that focus on student interests and talents from languages to poetry, literature and drama.

Following the presentation, students gave us an individual tour of the Daeil campus. Now keep in mind that the campus is on a steep hill. It consists of three large buildings cascading up the hill, interspersed with lush green gardens, playing fields and parking areas for parents, teachers and administrators. The campus is truly beautiful and exemplifies the commitment and focus that students and faculty have toward student education in foreign languages.


Pyeongchang named site of 2018 Winter Olympics!

Shortly after arrival in Seoul, the world found out that Pyeongchang, South Korea will be hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games! The city was electric with excitement over this HUGE win for the people of the Republic of Korea. We are SO happy for them.

Check out the following stories and news coverage on this monumental achievement:

Reaction to Pyeongchang’s 2018 Winter Olympic win …

“I didn’t expect a victory in the first round, frankly speaking. I thought there would be at least two rounds. But well done, I mean the best one has won convincingly.” — Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee President.

“I had some confidence but I did not expect this number, 63 (votes). I believe that all the IOC members understood our message. I believe that all the IOC members understood our message. They understood it was right time, right place, right now.” — Cho Yang-ho, Pyeongchang 2018 bid chairman.

“Now Rio (Summer Olympics host, 2016) and us have shown other developing countries that with a good bid and a good campaign they can host games, too. It’s a great chance for developing countries to take hope to organize either the Winter Games or Summer Games in the future.” — Park Yong-sung, Korean Olympic Committee President.

Read the full story at USA Today.


Winning bid an emotional journey for Kim Jin-sun

From the Korea Herald – For Kim Jin-sun, Pyeong-Chang’s recent victory over two European rivals to win the bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics was a poignant moment. Kim, 64, had been an executive director for Pyeong-Chang’s two earlier, failed Winter Games bids. A three-time governor of Gangwon Province, where PyeongChang is located, Kim is a principal figure that launched PyeongChang’s Winter Games project more than a decade ago.

And when the alpine town beat Germany’s Munich and France’s Annecy in an International Olympic Committee vote in Durban, South Africa, on July 6, Kim could barely contain his emotions.

Read the full story.


Bobsleigh head sure of Pyeongchang success …

From the Korea Herald – Last week in Durban, South Africa, a group of Korean delegates were leaping and hugging each other with joy when the International Olympic Committee finally declared PyeongChang as the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Ermanno Gardella was there too, joining the festive crowd and enjoying the success of PyeongChang’s bid.

“I supported PyeongChang,” said the secretary general of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, or FIBT.

The 69-year-old Italian, along with other officials from the sports governing body, arrived in Seoul on Thursday, and they are now in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, to attend the two-day general assembly of the federation.

Read the full story.






In the news: North Korea faces famine: ‘Tell the world we are starving’

From the Telegraph: More than a decade after North Korea was struck by famine that killed up to a million people, the country’s poorest are once again facing starvation, reports Peter Foster in Yanji.

Read the full story.

“People are very poor again, they are going to the mountains to get grasses and weeds to make into soup,” he said. “Some people are having to eat manure when they cannot get any rice or corn.”