Weeks into the start of another school year, the PTO and administration have come to settle a new attendance policy for KIS students: seniors at school, virtual for the rest. After weeks and months of tedious social distancing protocols, the introduction of this policy has spurred discussions across our school community ranging from teachers and parents to bus drivers and the Hyundai catering lunch workers.
First, let’s keep in mind that this “decision” wasn’t really an individual’s choice but rather a national command from the Korean Ministry of Education to all students of public and international schools in South Korea. In other words, whether you’re a student, a teacher, or a parent, you’ll have to stick with these policies, at least until they further revise our plans.
As a senior myself, I’m not intensely bothered by the new “senior only” policy. Not only am I breaking away from the unhealthy habits and temptations of virtual learning, but I am also enjoying the physical company of my peers (socially distanced, of course). Though the school feels a little empty, it is much less hectic. And yes, taking the school bus to school and back home every day is tedious and time consuming. But still, I very much enjoy the presence of being at school and just learning in real life.
A great emphasis of this issue is directed towards the students’ perspectives. Not just seniors, but juniors and the underclassmen. Although individual preferences can vary, it is true that being present at school isn’t always the most favorable option. Some people think of it as a convenience to learn virtually, while others think it is an opportunity missed. What about parents? While some parents think their children are having valuable learning experiences taken away, other parents strictly disapprove of their children going to school.
So many perspectives surround this debate and they extend to the forms of arguments and more complaints. In fact, complaining has become a daily exchange in our everyday regimens. But today, I’d like to challenge this commonplace routine that we’ve all become so accustomed to.
Why are we complaining in the first place? Remember back in March when we yearned to come back to school? Taking things into perspective, we are still international school students with a plethora of privileges. We have school buses comfortably taking us from and back to school. We have access to English spoken classes that are supplied by our online resources and expensive computers as well as internet connection. Are the school lunches not “tasty” enough? At least we still have access to consistent meals and besides, packing our own lunch is always an option.
Simply put, we are still living under favorable circumstances amidst a very difficult time. Things could really be worse. Though everyone is being economically impacted (unless your mom or dad works for Zoom), most of our parents still afford to send us to expensive hagwons and provide allowances while assisting us in their full capacity.
Things are and have been difficult for us. But let’s remember that there are always others struggling more. And more importantly, everyone is going through the same –if not worse – difficulties as us. And although many of us are fairly aware of these privileges, we could practice setting for a deeper consideration, at least before taking out our complaints.
Maybe it’s time to abandon our individualistic mindsets and make room for broader perspectives. You decide.
– SJ Yang (’21)