on the other side of the world….
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SAFEM Expo (and a piece of social commentary)

Tank, Chad, Kate, Teacher Joe (our main co-teacher) and some of the 6th Grade Girls

Two weeks ago Samcheok hosted the SAFEM Exposition. It happens every few years, no one was able to tell me how often. This week long event is the biggest safety fair in all of Asia. Samcheok was flooded with people from all over to visit booths about safety. Last Thursday our Camp was cancelled and we got to accompany the 5th and 6th graders on a field trip to the Expo.

Inside a Tank


I have to admit that on the surface this was all fun and games but I think I can speak for both myself and Chad in saying that the exposition of the military gear was a bit unsettling. A lot of what we encountered was very familiar. I do not know the specifics but I do know that the US was the designated country to help South Korea get on its feet after the Korean War. Considering how familiar these tanks were I assume that they might be one of the few American things we have encountered here.

Anyone know more about this?

Daddy, look! We got a new car!

Okay, so we got into it a little bit . . . For the kids.

Teacher Joe!
Teacher Cha-duh
Do you remember us mentioning the creepy mannequins that stand on the side of the road to direct traffic? Here are a couple of examples.

Another main highlight for us was the indoor cave reconstruction.

Kate the Stalagmite

This was really fun. We ran around the plastic rock with the students for a while but then we got separated which was great for a photo shoot.

Chad going down the Ice Shoot!

At least someone in Korea is painting!

Flash backs to the Knife Edge (inverted) on Capitol Peak!

Henry is back! Chad takes a fierce approach to conquering this gigantic bat!

Treasure Chest! I felt like the Little Mermaid but not as graceful. . . no mer-tail.
I took this picture for my Mom. Are they not too cute? I am not sure where they but their little sweaters.
Here is the stage that we could here from our apartment late at night. This is a Chilean band, it made me think of my boys back home. :)

Dancers from Thailand (Marlie do you have one of these outfits yet!?) (My friend Marlie is teaching Thailand right now. Chad and I want to go and visit her in January!)

This is the huge smoke stack-cake in Samcheok. I just thought you needed to see it.

This is our grounds keeper/bus driver! Check out his fancy bus driving outfit!
This brings me to an interesting and off topic point. I think that through out this blog you have probably picked up on the fact that the social system here is very different from in the States. AKA WOMEN ARE NOT SEEN AS EQUAL. Another piece of the social differences is the hierarchy of position. So, for example, this bus driver is supposed to treat me, a teacher, with more respect than he would treat a fellow bus driver. I am not supposed to treat him with the same respect as I do the principle. This has been incredibly difficult (possibly even more difficult than knowing that they are always going to go to Chad about anything and not me). I grew up with my parents pounding into me to treat everyone equally. Everyone should receive the same amount of respect. The fact that it is offensive to some that I treat someone “bellow” me with the same respect I give to someone “above” me has been incredibly difficult. This part of their culture is incredibly difficult to adjust because in my opinion it is WRONG!

Well, we are here to promote change, to help bring Korea into the Western World. How much of that can I do without offending everyone? A thin, wavering line. All I know is that I will not stop respecting people. i just need to figure out how to respect without offending others. Wow.

I just had to get that out there. One of the reasons I know I will never make Korea my permanent home.

Happy Sunday! We are off to play Badminton!

1 comment

1 Marty { 10.26.08 at 6:26 pm }

Wow, fabulous post! I miss you soooo much!

Interesting about all of the military stuff, I find that sort of display to be very creepy. I guess it’s better than having a glorified image of it all. Traffic mannequin = creepy.

You had to mention Henry, didn’t you?

The societal sexism is hard to take–maneuvering between trying to respect everyone and not offend will be a challenge. Eep! I wonder why status is such a big deal?

Just some thoughts!