L’Artiste

I haven’t been doing much writing recently; I guess I’ve been too busy focusing on my work and being a good teacher. But recently a friend of mine mentioned how she’d had an exhibit back home in France. She’s really starting to take off as a painter.

I met Valerie back home in Aotearoa, when we were both doing taekwondo at the university club. I thought maybe she’d speak a bit of Korean, but actually, she only speaks fluent French, Spanish, and English! (Haa; that was a bad mono-lingual-Kiwi joke there.)

Anyway, I’m glad the article came out well.

Busan Haps - cover

That “the piece” has come out well is in large part thanks to the guidance of my friend the good editor Bobby McGill. He’s a pretty busy guy these days, holding down his full time teaching job, maintaining his post as editor-in-chief of the good magazine Busan Haps, and now with a new company, Meme Communications Ltd. That’s a great name for a marketing communications company.

You can tell straight away that these are some pretty smart, funny guys who are enjoying working together and making this company happen. Even the name of the group on their bio page is kinda funny: The Meme Team. Haa.

Best of luck to you guys, and to Valerie too!

Leave a comment

Oh! Music

 

Some of the group agreed to help out with some music because they wanted to record a fundraiser track to support Sarah Graydon while she was in hospital and in debt; the rest of us agreed. When we heard she liked The Beatles, Katerina suggested this song.

It’s been a lot of fun and great luck to get to play a little music with some great locally based musicians recently during the vacation. Having had a couple of practises and chosen four songs, we decided to try and record them. Fortunately, the Gwangju Community Center let us book a few sessions. Unfortunately, most of us were not very experienced at recording. Fortunately, some friends were able to figure it out. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for the fourth but were very happy to get three “in the can.” Fortunately, we met Paul Mossine. He agreed to film us live as we recorded one song.

Leave a comment

The Jeolla Safety Alliance

The Jeolla Safety Alliance has been well and truly established with the launch of this video.

Congratulations to Maria Lisak and William Harris for getting this video made. I hope it never needs to be used in a practical way; however, it is a very positive thing that this information is available and very clearly set out for anyone who speaks English in or around Gwangju.

Congratulations too, to Nancy Harcar and Laura Sparley for helping set up the Jeolla Safety Alliance. This group is, just like the video, a greatly positive initiative set up to address one of the worst negative realities of pretty much any given society.

1 Comment

Girls Do Science

I’m really glad to have discovered this TED talk today. This is what I like most about TED; the voices of reason and experience exploding some of the most dangerous societal myths.

A word or phrase in English which I possibly heard in my undergraduate women’s studies papers but was certainly outlined here is “implicit gender bias.” Dr Randy Newman talks about it from 12:30 in the clip below, but, her whole talk is really worth anyone listening to and discussing fully, even in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.

I especially like her conclusion from about the point of 15:30 onward. Indeed, perhaps the greatest benefit of the shared wisdom that is consciously communicated effort of higher education is the conclusions we can learn to draw from experience. Many – I dare say most – women experience similar bias within the varied contexts of their many different lives and cultures each day, yet few can consider and then communicate the full weight of them so eloquently as delivered here by Dr Newman.

With regard to implicit gender bias, wikipedia.org does not have an entry on that specific phrase; however, it has links on both implicit stereotypes and also implicit attitude. It’s great to see these and other expressions written out and explained with clear examples so well in English. I really hope someone can translate even just a little of these entries into Korean on wikipedia soon. Our sisters need to learn this stuff. I think maybe it’s missing from the general Korean education syllabus.

The positive side of this last point is that I’m very proud to be teaching “mixed classes” at GIST. In my first class I taught this morning there was an equal number of each. The second class is nearly the same, with five out of eleven students being female. This is immensely encouraging, although given that this is a language class, it’s worth wondering whether the same holds true in all the students’ main subject research labs.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Cop out #18?

You may well know that one of the most important international meetings ever to occur is currently underway. The strangely named COP 18 is being held in Doha, Qatar, until this Friday. It’s the COP 18 meeting of nearly 200 countries who are tasked this year with finding and agreeing to the details of an effective replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.

Then again, you may well not know about it. Judging by one major online news source, New Zealand certainly seems to be facing a virtual media blackout on the very mention of the two week long conference. One of the nation’s leading news websites, the appropriately named “stuff.co.nz,” returns merely one single article on proceedings, and that’s for all three of the searches under the separate terms: Doha, Qatar, and Cop 18. Appearing as the fourth result of a search for the term Qatar [edit/ update: now the third, perhaps as a result of ranking improvement], but, crucially, NOT appearing under either COP 18 or even Doha, the tone of the article is quite rancid with acrimony and bitterness, virtually espousing a negativity akin to passive/aggressive ranting. Furthermore, it deals not even with the current proceedings of the meeting, but rather questions the “rights” of the host nation to hold the talks in the first place. But more on this tone of implicit vitriol later.

Impure

This overt failing of the website demands answers to a string of questions. Foremost in my mind: Why have the editors clearly deliberately avoided making up-to-date news on this conference able to be searched under the most obvious term: COP18, the name of the event itself? Even Qatar, as the name of the country, would be useful as a reference point for some people searching for current stories of this world-shaping event.

This gross negligence leads me to wonder: Why would the editors want to deliberately bury this, the one and only story referring to this, the major environmental meeting on the calendar and concerning all related issues and nations?

To be quite clear: stuff.co.nz is an aggregate news site. It supposedly presents ALL major news articles from ALL the nation’s local daily newspapers throughout the nation. Perhaps such stories have been carried in print but not put online, however, this in itself would be markedly unusual and would raise the question of why those stories have not been published online. Clearly then, there is something extraordinarily strange going on here, for which the editors of all the local daily papers would seem to have something to say which is not being said, online at the very least. Perhaps, for example, editors are venting their views and highlighting the meeting via their editorials, which are generally not included on this site.

To return to the tone of the article, it is rare to find any article on any subject which presents such a litany of examples of negativity in so many different contexts. From the title itself to the quotes, the attitudes presented are critical of the host nation in a way which belies New Zealand’s own hypocritical attitude as a developed nation, reliant on the huge amounts of methane and carbon pollution produced by the livestock industry, and our reliance on the majorly disastrous airplane to get us anywhere beyond Auckland’s beaches.

Clearly, the approach of stuff.co.nz bodes badly for the likely attitude of New Zealand’s representatives in Doha, Qatar, at the COP18 conference itself. Fortunately or not, the bad news for the rest of the world as presented by NZ’s governmental representatives is in fact the case, as is borne out by articles presented by the other news site, nzherald.co.nz. The tone of defensiveness continues even in this most recent of articles from yesterday’s news, though gratefully, the absurd vitriol has abated. Rather, as the title of another piece pointed out a day or two before, “Climate change talks may be ‘embarrassing’ for NZ.” Why anyone would bother with the straw man attempt at a handshake pass with the words “may be” here is a laughable question in itself. There is no question, and the better verb form here is an emphatic: ARE. This state of affairs is in fact so offensive to the rest of the world, that even the online activist group Avaaz.com has been called to arms with this petition they are ready to present to the NZ Prime Minister.

In the 1970s New Zealand citizens repeatedly raised record amounts of money for charity on nationwide “telethon” events, and we also learned to feel good about our identity as a naive young nation by doing relatively well in such irrelevant events as the Commonwealth and the Olympic Games (on a strictly per capita basis, of course). In the 1980s we, the people, faced down the might of the US with regard the imposition of the threat of nuclear catastrophe by resisting the visits of nuclear powered and possibly nuclear weapon-equipped ships. We, the people of New Zealand, also stood against the governments of both New Zealand and South Africa, demanding introspection of our own cultures. In a dramatic string of events which saw the streets and the rugby fields covered with riot police, we asked hard questions, namely: the place of politics in sport, and the place of racism in the very structure of our daily lives. It was a time of maturing as a nation; of facing ourselves and taking on our own responsibilities as a people.

And yet in this new century where the major threat is the weather bomb of our own making, we have not enough foresight to insist, loudly and clearly, that our very own leaders stand with those low carbon footprint countries who will suffer most as a consequence of our recent luxuriously oil-soaked lifestyle.

Clearly, that website needs to be renamed immediately. The only question is which is better: stuffall,co.nz, or completelystuffed.co.nz…?

As you contemplate the answer, please go ahead and help the New Zealand government to grow up a bit, do the right thing, and change their tune: please vote in Avaaz’s petition and forward to others who might appreciate the opportunity too.

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Sungyoung, the cheerful adaptasaurus

I love this woman a whole big heap of a lot.

She’s intensely beautiful in a majestic myriad of ways that makes me feel humbled and privileged just to have shared a conversation with her.

1 Comment

Dear Mum and Adrian,

Today I had to walk to the office and class because of another typhoon. It was raining hard this morning when I left my apartment, so I did not take my bike, although it’s still only about five minutes’ walk.

Typhoon Samba is perhaps the third large storm we have had in the last month or two. This one has passed further away from Gwangju though, and as a result of its more inland path, we have had only a fairly constant wind and an annoyingly ongoing drizzly rain for a few days now.  I am looking forward to cycling to work again soon, and then going for a longer bike ride to explore the countryside after work too. Maybe tomorrow!

In the meantime, I am enjoying the swimming pool. It is very peaceful and quiet, and yet also sociable. In many other pools around Gwangju there are too many people, but I still meet nice people in the GIST pool. Two weeks ago I met a nice Filipino guy named Joey. Yesterday I met one woman from Tanzania and another from Thailand, and there’s the new guy from the Czech Republic. His name is Bohuslav, and he eats in the cafeteria. Sometimes I see Tanya from Russia who swims in the early afternoons, just after lunch. There’s also a tall European or middle-eastern guy who swims in the mid-afternoon. He seems like a very confident swimmer. Finally, my coworker John’s wife and young children swim there at least a couple of afternoons per week, so, the pool is not exactly empty.

As for work this week, I am glad to have now started all my courses. It is a large variety of different papers to be teaching. I have to do a lot of preparation and planning each day for the next day’s lessons. But, the students are varied, and interested, and they are interesting too. I am looking forward to actually talking with them about their lives here at GIST and elsewhere, and not only talking about the business of learning English.

Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.