How to make your Prinicpal love you

On morning broadcast,

  1. Talk about your insomniac weekend and hold up a paddle board with the word “CRAZY” every time you mention the word crazy, which you do, a lot.
  2. Play the following Steve Martin comedy sketch, explaining how Koreans aren’t the only ones having difficulty:
  3. Explain that everyone in America is not rich like on t.v., that the majority of Americans are middle class and there are many poor.
  4. Explain how America values hard work and labor, and that there is no shame in dirty, dangerous, or difficult work and that actually, farmers and factory workers are iconic heroes in that America was built on their labors.  Show images of proud farmers and factory workers.
  5. Tell the story of the Korean teacher who, given the choice between a new teacher or an auto mechanic who makes $20,000 USD more than the teacher, wouldn’t allow his daughter to marry the auto mechanic.  Explain how an American girl marries for love and how Americans would not look down on an auto mechanic.  Point out that these are good examples of how radically different our cultures are.
  6. Explain how the world thinks Americans are obsessed with money, but that in an American classroom it would be unusual for a student to talk about being a CEO of a company and instead they would talk about what they like to do, whereas in Korea it isREALLY common for kids to say they want to be a CEO of a company.

The message is:  it’s okay if your dad’s a farmer and it’s okay if you don’t become a CEO of a company, and it’s okay if your husband isn’t part of the elite class.   Just do your best and be happy.

At lunch, the principal had me sit down next to him and said, in his broken English.  “We want you stay at our school long time.”

8 thoughts on “How to make your Prinicpal love you

  1. Most north americans are not “middle-class” — they’re simply constantly told that they are, for political reasons. It’s just that historically, a large enough percentage of the population were able to win wages which were formerly considered to be in the range that only middle-class professionals could receive. But that party is all over now, of course. Forever too. So I think we can consider the (always phony) “American Dream” to be well and truly dead.

    Of course, many “middle-class” people in other countries — who continue(?) to flock to the U.S. — probably still haven’t got the message yet.

  2. Koreans are actually obsess with all professions that ends in 사. Unfortunately the obession is a direct by product of being an ultra competetive society with new money. On the positive side, korea is no longer a poor country. On a side note, you should have some of your posts translated and post on korean site in order reach the audience that matters more.

  3. South Korea is one of those formerly semi-feudal ‘Third World’ countries which developed a ‘special’ geo-strategic relationship with the U.S. after both wars. So there’s all this tension between the old ways and the rather vulgar grasping after force-fed capitalist success, which you describe so well on your blog. It will be some decades or a century or two before all these contradictions work themselves out. (Assuming much.) It took the West much longer to do this the first time around.

  4. Economic class is a relative thing.

    Where I grew up, everyone where I lived resented my father, a teacher with four kids to support, for being upper class. We were rationed one gallon of milk a week and never allowed to order soft drinks the once a month we went out for fast food.

    I always thought of us as middle class, until I went to Korean camp and met my camp counselor, who was going to go to Radcliffe, and who considered herself middle class. And then there was my aunt, who lived modestly off of stock dividends, who also considered herself middle class.

    Later, when I was on welfare (going to school full time, AND working half time AND raising two kids) I thought I was poor. But actually, because of social services, even though I was often miserably disadvantaged, I only felt true poverty the one month my benefits got sent to the wrong person and I had to live by the grace of charities, eating with my kids in food lines.

    Still later, traveling to other countries (a life-long dream I was always too poor to ever consider) I saw people who lived EVERY DAY like I did that one month, with no options on the horizon and every day’s effort going into getting one meal.

    Even in today’s economic downturn/recession/depression, most Americans have never experienced poverty like that. So from my perspective, the vast majority of Americans are still middle class, even if their wallets are much lighter.

    What I also saw happen during the Bush era was the rich got much, much richer and much more callous/entitled. So a huge gap opened up between the middle class and the rich.

    That’s just my take on things, as someone who’s been both middle and lower class yet traveled abroad and seen true poverty.

    As for translation, my speech to the National Assembly has taken two months and gone through four volunteer translators to date, and still needs tweaking. It’s really not that easy, given the huge differences in our languages, trying to convey the message you really want to communicate.

  5. > Economic class is a relative thing.

    Actually, it’s an objective thing. What you mean, clearly, is that you are talking about your *subjective* understanding of your family’s economic status. If your family lived from waged labor — and teachers essentially do — you were (white-collar) working-class, whatever your income. But comparing a rich country to a poor country OTOH is really like comparing apples to oranges: because prices are not the same, and necessary expenses vary widely, etc. However: yes, Western poor people are generally better off than poor people in the so-called “Third World”. Just keep in mind that there are a lot more VERY, very poor people in the U.S. than maybe you imagine; and have been since the founding of the U.S.: they just don’t get into the razzle-dazzle mass-media too often…

    As for the *real* middle-class: it is truly objectively different from the working-class as well, taken from the economic perspective (and what other is there?). And your aunt is a perfect example of a real middle-class individual (tho’ it sounds like lower end, and probably slowly sliding downhill. But that was some time ago, right?) — because her income came from stock dividends, and not from waged labor. And it’s that simple.

  6. So often I feel like my readers (that sounds so weird to say) don’t really read my posts. I have often spoke of America’s hidden poor.

    Anyway, this post was not meant to become an economics or class analysis.

    But I really can’t believe the definition of middle class means not waged labor. I’ll have to look that up, as it’s counter to all I was lead to believe my entire life.

  7. To me, it doesn’t really matter if the economics jargon definition of “middle class” means not living off of wage labor, since it has a vernacular definition that is quite different. And it’s still worth discussing and examining that vernacular definition. Different terms have different meanings in different schools/disciplines, right?

    Maybe, rather than say “economic class is a relative thing” you should have said “poverty is a relative thing”. Don’t know how that can be argued with.

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