As I was reading through the International Herald Tribune on Tuesday morning, I read an article about reading in 21st century. It was about a heated debate on whether digital reading was effective or not. Digital reading includes reading digital materials like blog posts, websites, or scanned books. While the opponents of the digital reading claim that lack of reading books has caused the decline of verbal scores among teenagers, advocates of the digital reading argue that reading websites and blog posts  allowed the readers to read diverse amounts of texts in shorter period of time.

After reading this article, I felt that I was neither for nor against the digital reading. I have experienced what lack of reading books can do to me as I realized that my SAT verbal scores were very low. By reading more books over the summer, I was able to increase the scores. However, I also experienced what digital reading can do; as I surf through websites, I quickly gain more information by reading website articles. In addition, by surfing through websites, I was able to increase my reading speed.

Just like issues such as nature vs. nurture, I believe that by reading both books and websites, one can achieve two things: increased verbal skills and diverse perspectives. Yet, I also realize that for teenagers in 21st century, it is harder for them to choose to read books. Digital reading provides more options that intrigues their interests. Certainly, there will be books that will interest them, but I think those books can’t hold their interests for long because teenagers would have to spend more time reading those.

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This week, I was able to experience the reality of volunteer/charity culture in Korea through the UNICEF camp. On the last day of the camp, we were supposed to hand out pamphlets to the people in the Bongwha subway station, to persuade them to donate to UNICEF. Unfortunately, we were only allowed to do this for an hour because the subway managers kept telling us to leave, saying that we were being a nuisance. Although we tried to be  as quiet as possible, the managers still wanted us to leave as fast as possible.

This experience was shocking because I was astounded by the managers’ lack of respect for the volunteers. We did not want to hand out pamphlets in the subway for commercial reasons. We were doing this for a good cause. Also, UNICEF was a global organization, so there would be little reason for the volunteers to steer away from our duties and cause troubles like what wandering salesmen in subways would do.

Even the organizers were disturbed by the managers’ disrespect. I hope in the future, many more Koreans would respect charity work and try to help these organizations like UNICEF as much as possible. I believe that many of them do not see much value in charity work yet. But, when I recall this experience, I keep thinking about a story  about a Korean golfer that my father told me. A famous Korean golfer Kyong Joo Choi always wondered what made Tiger Woods play golf so well. Of course, talent played an important role but Choi believed that Woods had something else that helped him to become a world-class golf player. So one day, when Choi made a small donation, Choi felt that charity has helped  Woods to play golf so well. According to Choi, he felt proud and safe, because it seemed that the people who were affected by his donation would help him to win golf tournaments. Finally, Choi had recognized the value of charity. 

Just like Choi, many Koreans would not immediately recognize the value of charity/volunteer. But I hope, when I’m an adult, many Koreans would feel what charityvolunteer can do to their lives. Just as they give something to the needy, the benefactors would give something back to them.

Shifting away from Friedman, I decided to talk about an issue which I think is problematic in Korea- air conditioning. Despite the campaign about decreasing the use of heavy air conditioning in buildings, I believe that many other buildings failed to recognize the urgency of the campaign’s message. For example, a building where my hakwon is starts air conditioning from 8AM until 8PM. When it’s air conditioned, rooms in my hakwon get so cold that we cannot help but open the doors a little bit. Also, some of the students and I bring sweaters to warm ourselves.

I’m not saying we should not have any air conditioning. I just want to say that we should try to use less air conditioning so we could save energy especially during the time when oil prices are increasing. Also, if we are continuously exposed to heavy air conditioning, then we might miss the opportunity to savor summer in Korea. Yes feeling the heat and humidity in Korea can be an unpleasant experience. However, I believe it is even more unpleasant if we cannot feel what really summer feels like due to air conditioning.

        

 Although the mad cow diesease protests have cooled a bit, i would like to talk about how friedman would respond to this issue now that I have finished reading his book, “The World Is Flat.”

        It is clear that Friedman is a strong advocate of free trade- since it would ultimately allow flattening process to spread throughout the world. Therefore, it is likely that Friedman would not favor these protest very much because it would delay free trade agreement in Korea. However, he would not criticize the protestors. Rather, he would most likely criticize some of the American government for letting the bad image about American beef to prevail in Korea.

        While i was surfing through the websites about certain colleges, I was able to find a document related to the mad cow disease written by Professor Sean Decatour from Mount Holyoke College. It was interesting to find articles on mad cow disease because I could easily relate this to the protests in Korea.

                                 

 

I’m glad I read this book: it captures the beginning of a powerful force that will shape the later period of the 21st century. It explains the driving force behind the news headlines we see everyday. Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that just by reading this book will enable the reader to understand what is going on in the world.

           Clearly, one of the things that kept popping up in the book was the impact of technology. However, the impact that Friedman mentions is unlike what we see in academics. When textbooks talk about the influence of technology, I did not clearly see the impact. I just understood; I did not necessarily see the impact working in my daily life. Now I do, just by reading this book. Now I see how people in the early 1990s worked so hard to put fiber cables all over the world just so they could get connected with people from different countries. Now I know why the invention of PC was such a remarkable event to the history of mankind. Technology, according to this book, enabled worldwide collaboration- the kind of collaboration that would be quite impossible without the aid of technology. After I first heard about the debate of technology widening the gap between the rich and poor even more, it was hard for me to see the positive side of technology to the individuals who want to contribute to the world. Thanks to Friedman, I could see how technology has empowered those individuals by offering them cheap and fast medium to connect to more people.

           Because the book is written by a famous journalist, the book is faced-paced and full of excitement. It portrays changes in positive and negative light. For instance, in Chapter 1, Friedman presents his beliefs in series of changes that he experiences. This manner eventually excited me because he received emails telling him the incidents where the flattening process is occurring and scurring through Asia to actually experience these changes. It’s first-hand experience that I, as a student could rarely get. Therefore, by seeing Friedman actually moving around and talking to people about the flattening process is exciting because he gets to see all these revolutionary things like the biggest screen in Asian located Infosys center in Banglore or Chinese in Dalia being the “backroom” for housing industries in Japan.