Expat Dribble

Andrea Avery Jackley: An expat with lots of dribble to write about.

8.30.09

An unforgivably long time has passed since I posted last. The end of August marks the end of our “intensive” summer classes, which had me working around 12 hours a day, and the beginning of the new fall semester. Recovering from my exhaustion – and the summer  heat – has been a “process”, to say the least. So, back by unpopular demand, here is my semi-rational account of what’s interesting lately:

Slick Willy Clinton swept into the Korean Peninsula on the wings of his corporate jet and worked his magic with good ol’ Kimmy Jong-Il to the North, ensuring the safe – and dare I say, chivalrous – release of two American female journalists. And I hate to further disappoint any sniveling Conservatives who’re already grabbing their jockstraps at the return of the “Big Dog”, but he’s still unbelievably popular around the world. Around the time of Bill’s arrival in North Korea, I attended a small gathering of foreign internationals, including a couple of Scots, Canadians, South Africans, and of course, Koreans, and the sentiment was unanimous: they just love Bill.

South Korea launched an unsuccessful rocket last week, whose mission was to place an observatory satellite in the Earth’s orbit, that actually went too far and then fell apart. The rocket itself was built with Russian technology, while the satellite, which was lost upon its separation from the rocket, was domestically built. While I could really care less about the mechanics or implications of the launch, it HAS spurred a really entertaining round of finger-pointing between the ex-Soviets and the Koreans in the media. In the meantime, President Lee Myung-Bak has dubbed the launch “half successful.” I never thought of it that way.

On a personal note, I didn’t have much time for exploring over the summer; but on the eve of the departure of a good friend last weekend, enviably back in Edinburgh now, I accompanied her to explore Incheon city. And it was well worthwhile! We were able to see preserved buildings – banks – from the Japanese occupation, a neat little architectural museum, the country’s only official Chinatown (very cool), General MacArthur’s and other Korean War memorials, and a spectacular view of the East coast and its islands.

Also, for those of you who fail to head over to the “Inane Observations” page of this blog, this entertaining bit is worth sharing: “I’ve been teaching my little class of ‘monsters’ since I arrived in Korea – a precarious grouping of fifth-graders, comprised of seven lawless boys and three girls who tend to follow the flock. The boys are always thrilled whenever they learn of a new Western slang or “swear” word, usually from a television program or a rap song that makes it across seas. Anyway, I walked into the classroom the other day to the students laughing hysterically as Brian, one of the ringleaders, was writing on the board. When he was finished, he displayed to me quite proudly the words ‘Sun of the Beach!’ ‘TEACHER! VERY bad word!’ he exclaimed. I played along, swallowing my own giggles, and said, ‘Yes, Brian, VERY bad word! Never say it again!’ That was followed by three or four mimickers chanting the phrase in the background.”

Finally, saving the most poignant for last, we lost an invaluable American this past week in Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, the “(Liberal) Lion of the Senate”; whose name has been written on hundreds of congressional bills, many that have become law, over the decades he served. For all his personal failings, we must not lose sight of the numerous triumphs this man – who suffered more personally than many of us; with the untimely deaths of his three brothers, a devastating plane crash that broke his back and left him in a lifetime of pain, and the illnesses of his own children – helped champion over the years, including:

“(1) The Freedom of Information Act, (2) the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and (3) the Americans with Disabilities Act. He helped (4) Soviet dissidents and fought (5) apartheid. Above all, he conducted a four-decade crusade for universal health coverage…” TIME.com, Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009: The Brother Who Mattered Most.

He also expanded access to and funding for neighborhood clinics, one of which I attended up until I was around 22 years old, and helped author the bill to require COBRA insurance benefits for people who lose their jobs.

Women’s sports receive equal funding thanks to Senator Kennedy.

Simply put: We’re really gonna miss you, Teddy. Thanks for everything.

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