Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend of Survival and Etiquette


I would really like to continue my promise to myself to blog every day this month, and I suppose that's what I'm doing, but tonight is limited by necessity to an explanation rather than an actual entry.

I had to cancel plans tonight so that I could spend my Friday evening creating a lesson for an open class that I am supposed to have next week - this being the class where district supervisors drop-in to class for a time to see if I am indeed worthy of signing-on for another contract.

As fate would have it, my knack for coming-across excellent inspirations for lessons in every life continued in the form of a strange call-to-politeness to Seoul citizens - just in time for the G20 Summit. There are better blogs about it here, but I'll be using the graphic to get students talking about what their text books wants them to talk about this week: making polite requests.

For example:

A) Would you mind not spitting in public?
B) Of course not.
A) Thank you very much.

or...

A) Would you mind waiting until everyone gets off the subway before getting on?
B) Not at all.
A) Thank you very much.

Perhaps my favourite though is the one suggesting that people yield to emergency vehicles. Isn't this a requirement when taking a driver's test? Or is it considered "etiquette"? No, it can't be... can it?

I know there are cultural difference aplenty here, and it's interesting to explain to people back home (for example) that it's incredibly rude pass something to someone or to receive it with only one hand. This example increases in rudeness exponentially the older the other party gets. Anyway, it's a good reminder that not every public act we regard as deplorable or rude is considered in the same way all over the world.

Anyway, it's equally interesting to see that the Seoul City Government has gone so far as to implement this massive "Global Etiquette" campaign that must be fraught with political incorrectness. Is Korea simply saying that, as one friend put it: "Obama's coming - time to clean-up your act, Korea"?

Anyway, for anyone who has lived her previously, I'm sure you could appreciate some of the initiative that went into this. I do wonder though if it has actually caught-on, or if it's going to be completely ignored. Regardless, it's interesting to see that at least the "globally-minded" municipal leaders are at least a bit embarrassed by those who feel the need to loudly empty their sinuses on the subway platform, etc.

So yeah - that's what I'm doing tonight. Then tomorrow I'm off to an all-day field trip at Olympic Park with my high school class, then I'm off to ride in the 6PM Saturday 'til 6AM Sunday Han River Endurance Challenge, then I'm home to sleep, wake-up, finish my lesson, and head out to a charity concert of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra with my rabbit. A busy weekend, but a good one.

Somehow though, I can't see myself going past midnight on my bike. I'm sleepy just thinking about it. Too much, too soon...

1 comment:

Tuttle said...

I think every Asian city goes through a thing like this when they are on the "international stage". Seoul has previously done it for the Olympics 88 and World Cup 02, including discreetly shuttering boshintang restaurants.

Shanghai went through a very public etiquette campaign on how to behave, including spitting, cutting in line etc, for the World's Fair. As did Beijing leading up to the 08 Olympics.