Korea Day 2–AND NOW TO WORK

Well, today dawned, sort of, with a heavy fog obscuring any stray sunlight that happened by. I actually got a few hours of sleep last night, from  9 p.m. until 3:30 a.m., certainly not enough. Tonight I’m going to try to stay up later and ease wakeup toward 5 a.m. Maybe by the time I head for Cairo it will be properly situated so that it can get screwed up again after another 12 hour flight.

As it appeared to have promise of a cool day, I wore my corduroy slacks, a long sleeved shirt, and a Travel Sport Coat, as we headed to the school to begin our work. Little did I know that a lot of that would come off later, when the temperature climbed into the 80’s. Momentarily, I thought I had been transported already to Egypt.

We met with a variety of groups throughout the day, including the school’s steering committee, students from grades 3-5, and the teaching staff after school. In between meetings we roamed the buildings, visiting classroom briefly to get an idea of student involvement and classroom management styles. The fifth grade classrooms are in the middle school, two blocks away and on the third floor. A barrier has been erected in their hallway to prevent them from contamination from the middle school kids. I met their counselor, an attractive, 6’1” lady blonde from Cheyenne, certainly not a person I would have expected to see here. I also was asked by the Korean Culture teacher if I knew a lady from Wyoming who is now in Germany; I immediately knew he was referring to Barbara Mueller, from Buffalo, Wyoming, and whom I had met two years ago on another of my assignments. Thus, one enters the World of DoDEA! It’s actually a small community where folks know each other in many places, and which turnover is not only among students (50% a year at this school) but also among staff (25%). I met with a group of a dozen teachers, the matriarch of the group has been at the school for four years; most of the rest only one or two years.

Given this situation, one of the problems faced by these schools is maintaining continuity, and in having an effective mentoring process in place to train the new folks. On the plus side, all schools in the system use the same materials while most professional development is dictated system-wide in recognition of all the transiency. All schools use the same curriculum, which does provide a strong element of security and comfort to those who move from place to place. One of my team was being interviewed late this afternoon for a potential move to somewhere in Bavaria, having been in the Far East for many years in Okinawa, Japan, and Korea.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday will complete our visit to this school; we then have a few days of rest before doing the same thing at the high school, next week. Our plan to visit the DMZ is on hold, as we are on a waiting list for the tour this Saturday. If we don’t get that, we’ll go on one of the other offerings, either a special cave and lake, or the flower gardens in Seoul and a temple or two. Oh, I almost forgot, there is a golf course here, too.

I’m really wanting to get out to the countryside, and see the rice paddies and other local cultural settings. It may be difficult, given that I have lots of report writing to complete this weekend, but I need to make the effort. I do know that it’s comfortable to be back in a civilized place, one where people drive on the proper side of the road. And are not courteous drivers. Japan was totally opposite!

I’ll let you know if they follow through from North Korea with their threat to burn South Korea to ashes, in just a few minutes of time, and soon. I was trying to find their email address to ask them to hold off until after I leave, and I’d like to send them the name of a good hairdresser.

Always Be Happy                                                                           To Our Youth…Always

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