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Another issue

Today I’d like to share something else that sometimes bothers me about the orphanage. Last time, I talked about the sanitation of the home. Thanks for your replies!

Living in Korea has certainly taught me to look at things with different eyes. So much of what goes on here is related to culture, and it is easy to draw conclusions about right or wrong. I am trying to figure out how to walk the line.

Today’s issue though is as much about culture as it is about staffing crunch at the orphanage.  Social services isn’t a very glamorous job anywhere in the world, and I’m sure it is hard to find high-quality employees to care for the children at the orphanage.  Ideally there would be 2 adults to watch the 22 elementary boys that I work closely with.  However, this doesn’t always happen.  If someone is sick, or unable to come in, often the kids are on their own.  Then the 6th grade boys are in charge.  I should say, that when they run the show, at least the younger kids eventually do their homework, shower, pick up their clothes, etc.. but it’s not always smooth.  Sometimes they resort of rather strange enforcement measures!  One day one 6th grade boy had a a spray bottle!  He would tell a younger boy to do something, and then spray him like a dog when he wouldn’t do it right away!

Or sometimes the 10 preschool kids (birth - kindergarten) are left alone with  5th grade girl to watch them!  Now, I know some 5th graders could handle that, but not many can.  And the girl who gets that responsibility isn’t known for her tenderness!

Children in Korea have substantially more freedom than their American counterparts.  Really young kids criss-cross the city on bus and subway to go back and forth from school to 학원 (tutoring centers) all day long.  Groups of kids can be found in the busiest parts of the city with no adult chaperone in sight.  I think this plays into what happens at the orphanage, and coupled with the staffing issues gives the kid a lot of independent alone time.  That can be a good thing, but these kids who don’t have parents, or have very poor relationships with their parents desperately need adults to guide them!  Those kids really are just raised by slightly older kids!

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