UNC School of Government interview

25 01 2013

i just finished a phone interview with UNC. they work quickly. the application deadline was 1/15. roughly 50% of interviewees are accepted into the MPA program, so i’m no shoo in. but i’m more interested in the MPA program than I was prior to the call.

the interviewers were professional, prepared and gracious. two professors, two students and one graduate hosted. one of the students works part-time as a research assistant at the SoG and part-time at the Triangle J Council of Governments, most recently working in database management. i was glad to hear students have time to sandwich contextual work around their full-time course load. T, W, TH courses leave some time to make a little money the rest of the week. the alumnus said she was about at the same place in her career experience-wise as i am.

i also liked that professor ammons tactfully questioned whether a dual degree made sense. i applied for the MPA / Master of City and Regional Planning, but it might not make sense. three years is a long time to be in school, for age and money one, but also for want of getting this show on the road and doing interesting work.

i’m reenergized this evening about economic development. just like asking students to present what they’ve learned helps them clarify their thoughts, articulating why i want to go to school and work in econdev renewed my mojo.

i can imagine an urban lifestyle for the next two years, learning and working and living like a pauper. it feels fulfilling.

NCCU, maybe not a good choice for grad school

15 01 2013

The UNC MPA application is out the door, and I’ll submit NCSU this week. I believe I ought to explore programs outside of the state and the US for good measure, but my inner naysayer says out-of-state tuition will be prohibitive, and what sense does it make to learn about economic development in an international program, when I want to make a difference in my country.

Should someone be foolish enough to admit me, I can’t believe I’ll be going back to school. For 10 years, I’ve been prostrate with indecision and the feeling of should. I don’t believe in school for school’s sake or for hiding out from work or for delaying decisions. Now I want to go back and get better at what I do. UNC seems to be a training ground for city managers and has an excellent reputation, but I’d rather go there for continuing ed, as I already went there for undergrad. NCSU comes across as more practical. What am I saying? Any school that will look past my 2.65 undergrad years is the school for me.

I’m looking at UNC-G and NCCU for good measure, but NCCU may be a myth.
There are no deadlines or dates on any of their grad school pages. Bad sign?

Try calculating your age with Korean math.

8 01 2013

Today’s newspaper lesson led to a cultural exchange on how we calculate age.

Our class is called Oxford after The Queen’s College at the elementary school camp where I’m teaching this month.
My students are writing for a newspaper they created called Oxford Adventures.

When filling out their reporter profiles today, Kate asked,
“What should I put for my age? My real age or my international age?”

kid reporter3

Kid Reporter profile from timeforkids.com

Me: “This is a British paper, yes? Use your international age.”
Kate: “Teacher, what is my international age?”

Koreans have this peculiar practice of giving you a year when you’re born.
Also, in Korea (and in Vietnam), you gain your year on new year’s day. So, if you have a child in November, that child will be two years old in two months. Or to be extreme about it, if you have a baby on New Year’s Eve, that baby would be two years old in less than 24 hours.

As far as my friends know, Korea is the only country that gives you credit for time in the womb.

I thought we’d use Kate’s age as an example, then my other students would know how to calculate their international (EBK—everywhere but Korea) age. No. We ended up plotting every student’s birthdate on the board.


i had to make a chart.

For example, Kate: born January 21, 2001, is 11 compared to her 13 years of Korean age.
Perda (great names kids pick for themselves, eh?), who was born on Christmas Day in 2001, just turned 11 as opposed to her Korean age of 13.

“But teacher. That’s so WEIRD.”
“Really? Well, Westerners think it’s weird that you’re already a year old when you’re born.”

The conversation continued into lunch. I gave a green sticker to the first student who could tell me my co-teacher’s international age. (Jae was born in August 1986.)

Two students finally guessed 26.

“But Jae, what is your REAL age?!” asked Perda.
Perception is reality.


Jae and Perda

korea’s gender pay gap – a workforce woe

4 01 2013

My 30-year-old student HyoJung and I chatted yesterday about this OECD one-pager on gender equality in Korea.

Women now outpace men on reading tests here and are neck-and-neck with men in attaining uni degrees. HyoJung told me that employers often credit freshman (new) male employees with two years of experience when they start their jobs, as deference to their military service. Let me think about that. Is that fair? HyoJung doesn’t think so.

Korea has the largest pay difference between genders in OECD countries at 39%.
(Sidebar, Korea also has the skinniest women in the OECD–the US has the fattest–and Korean women are only getting skinnier.)

Korea also has the lowest birthrate in the OECD, and perhaps the lowest rate of males doing housework at 45 minutes per week.

So couple these factors–one, lower pay, slower promotions and lack of incentives for women to rejoin the workforce; and two, not as many future workers being born–and Korea will be begging, borrowing and stealing workers in less than two decades.

Or will the market force societal norms to change? It’ll be interesting to live here in 2032.

In class today at the elementary camp I’m teaching at this month, my kids debated the resolution, “Students should help with housework.”

Nine-year-old Lisa said, “Of course, students should help with housework. If they live in the house, they should help clean the house. It’s fair.”

My most articulate 6th grader Martin said, “I don’t think students should have to do housework. We are students. Our job is to study. My dad’s job is to go to work. My mom doesn’t study. Her job is to clean the house.”

I asked Martin a follow-up question about whether his mom worked outside his home (some, he said) and let it go at that, having broken our debate structure.