In Korea, fall is wonderful. But it only lasts for about thirty minutes. For the past two weeks, it’s been depressingly cold. Since I don’t have a true winter coat, I spend all day trying to get warm. It’s not easy.
My office is connected to my classroom. There is no door separating the two. If I leave the office for more than a few minutes, I return to find that at least a few of the windows are wide open. For this reason, the classroom rarely warms up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The same thing happens in most classrooms and every hallway in the school. During the early afternoon, it is actually warmer outside than inside the school. This makes me wonder if the school’s energy savings project is a bit of a joke.
The school was kind enough to supply me with a small space heater. Since Koreans have a paralyzing fear of fans, the heater is incapable of circulating air. So the area immediately surrounding the element is irresponsibly hot, and the rest of the office is chilly.
Yesterday, while reading through some blogs about China, I came across an interesting and well written one called Ed in China. Apparently, Chinese schools are also completely void of basic logic:
The chilly situation is mitigated somewhat by electric space heaters – we’ve got them in all the offices and classrooms in our school. They aren’t particularly effective in the coldest weather – kids and the rest of us have to keep dressed for outdoors indoors to be even close to comfortable. Anyway, it’s quite commonplace to see these things blasting away, doing their best to reduce the chill, the effort defeated by keeping all the doors and windows open. So local kids and local staff will be sitting around freezing – heaters firing away – windows and doors open, complaining about the cold, while dressed for winter – indoors.
If you try to step these folks through a logical progression that not only is the practice a colossal waste of energy, but also isn’t making anyone warmer, they just don’t follow it. The reply is that they need “fresh air’ to keep them healthy. This, amazingly, is in cities with air pollution that is often off the charts. Explaining that most of the electric heaters use air filters is a hopeless exercise. China is big, growing, powerful and all the rest, but the inability to think logically in this place is one of several “Achilles’s Heels” that are huge speed bumps – even with the progress being made.
On the bright side, at least I know what I’m getting myself into this time around. I think Korea may be good practice for China.
Until next time.