Monday, June 9, 2008

Something told the wild geese...

The New York Times has an interesting article describing a phenomenon we first heard about from our boss, Dr. Kim, on ski trip last fall: mothers taking their children overseas to attend school in New Zealand, Canada, the USA, or Australia to get them into an Anglophone environment and, not coincidentally, out of Korean schools. "Wild Geese" refers to the "migratory" flight two or three times a year of the fathers to visit the mothers overseas ("Penguin fathers" are, you guessed it, the flightless ones who can't afford to ever travel overseas and visit their families). We do, in fact, have some of these families at APIS, where siblings are currently at school overseas, and we have a couple of kids leaving APIS for U.S. boarding schools next year.

Anyway, you can see why, even as the clock winds down and we lose our minds trying to do everything at once (move apartments! foster the dog! arrange summer travel! finish grades! keep lesson planning! more more more!), we still have a basic belief that APIS is trying to do something important. Some people will always choose boarding schools, and there's nothing wrong with that, but the idea that families feel compelled to make this sort of choice at the risk of destroying their childrens' futures... well, it's flat-out depressing.

Although I'm jealous of the mother in the article who said her kids were speaking English together and actually losing some Korean language fluency. Even after months of crackdown, we still have the opposite problem. Kids who spoke English perfectly on arrival start devolving into Konglish ("I am genius!," or addressing teachers as "teacher," not by name) and some ESL students are still trying to get by on as little English as possible. You just have to try to remember how far they've come.

1 comment:

Mark Lee said...

I actually have a set of family friends who fit this exact scenario. First they sent their oldest son to an American boarding school for high school; then, the mother took the two younger children to Canada to enroll them in elementary and middle school. The father, a doctor at a prestigous univeristy hospital, is planning to make the move over, but at great cost: he'd have to start his career over from scratch and, when I saw him in Korea last month, was still unsure how this would all work out.

It's really heartbreaking, but also very revealing of the Korean character.