Thursday, September 27, 2007

On "Ungroup The Koreans"

Last week's Weekly Sillimanian featured an article on their "Kipin' It Real" section entitled "Ungroup The Koreans." Written by Suthai G. Katima, it has created a lot of flak from, you guessed it: Koreans. I'm reprinting the article in full from the online edition of the Sillimanian.

Most of them are white, chinky, and all of them come from South Korea. If you guessed who I'm talking about then you're a genius. South Koreans are all over the place! Just when I thought we had enough of them a few years ago, now Dumaguete City is starting to look like a Korean Colony.

I prefer to call them just plain Koreans like most of us do because those North Korean communists don't even exist outside their own country, and to my observation, their country is like a gigantic, high-security prison. I would seriously freak out if I see a North Korean walking down the streets of Dumaguete City. How often does that happen?

Obviously, Koreans come to the Philippines to study English. This country is the sole provider of competitive English Education in South East Asia. Not to forget, it's very affordable, and Silliman is one of the well known universities when it comes to English. Sounds cool doesn't it? But do you see a significant improvement in the Korean's ability to speak English? Personally, I haven't. There are Korean students who have been here in Silliman for more than two years, and still their English is the same as before.

It's pretty obvious, but people hardly notice. Koreans have a hard time communicating and holding a conversation with their surroundings and I haven't seen a decent Korean student get better in English, despite all the education that person is getting. And so we ask, "What gives?" There is nothing wrong with the English education that Silliman provides them. It's the Sillimanians that are holding them back. That's right, "us".

This is the reason why Koreans prefer to group together rather than playing around with their new Filipino friends. Its not that they make it hard for us to understand them, we make it hard for them to understand us. And because of this, they lose confidence in communicating with us and stick to the group where communication is not an inconvenience. We should not forget that we Filipinos have English as our second language. We know it better than Koreans do. So in general, it is us who should accommodate them.

One of the main reasons why Koreans don't improve their English is they never put it into real life practice. If Koreans continue to stick together and speak Korean, when will their English get better? But it's because we don't accommodate them in our society that they group together in the first place! So I think you're getting the idea on what solutions can be applied. Well, one solution would be to (Drum roll please) UNGROUP THE KOREANS!

By ungrouping and getting them to mingle with us more, they are obliged to use whatever English they know. By being more accommodating, and making them feel comfortable with us, their Korean-group-together will be out of their daily routine. It's like breaking up NSYNC and making them all go solo. It's easy. Do you have a Korean friend? Well then, quit ignoring that person and start talking to him/her. Invite that Korean for lunch with your Filipino friends, and any other activity you have. Don't forget, we're the host, and they're the guests. And in Filipino culture, that means so much more than simply smiling and saying hi.

Fellow students tend not to bother with them because it's a hassle in creating mutual understanding. But how would you feel if you were treated the same way in their country? And mind you, there aren't a lot of Filipinos in South Korea. Learning English in Silliman is just half of the process. Putting it to use is the other half. And yes, WE are the other half. By welcoming them to our society and by encouraging them to play with us more, they will become more confident and definitely improve their English.

Actually, we tend to be intimidated by the Koreans when in fact they are more intimidated by us. We know English, and they don't. So why don't we all share the wealth, and be one big happy family? Having a Korean as a friend can be very rewarding. The sharing of culture and traditions is a wonderful experience. Silliman being branded as a Korean refugee camp isn't a bad thing after all. At least they help improve our economy, and by giving them a pleasant experience, we might just put the Philippines back into the map again. So let’s get on the challenge: Ungroup the Koreans!

A Korean student's reaction in this week's edition will follow.

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