Wednesday, July 20, 2016

SNU, Day 2

I did my afternoon gig at Seoul National University today, finishing a few minutes early, then meeting up with Charles and his wife Hyunjin for dinner at Nine Ounce, a burger joint in the SNU neighborhood that serves juicy, delectable burgers. I'll be talking more about Nine Ounce in a different post. For now, let's concentrate on how class went today.

Eleven students were slated to come to class; about half showed up very late for various reasons, ranging from a funeral to final exams to traffic jams. I had no choice but to start class without the stragglers, so I began by passing out a review sheet that was meant to reinforce what we had covered the previous week re: résumés. I then had the students watch an excellent pecha-kucha presentation by Indo-Canadian Shawn Kanungo, who talked animatedly and humorously about spelling bees and the secret of Indian kids' success in them. As a class, we discussed the things that Shawn did right during his spiel, after which I segued into my own presentation on how to present.

The students seemed fairly engaged by my talk, although it ended with cheerfully sarcastic "golf clapping." From there, I had the students place their names on two sign-up sheets—one for the ten-minute, one-on-one brainstorming sessions we would be having that day; the other for our fifty-minute, one-on-one presentation sessions to be done on August 1 and 2. After a ten-minute break, we plunged into one-on-one brainstorming for the presentations that the students would be doing in August.

I sat with each student, and we talked over what the student's topic was, whether he or she had a thesis, what sort of approach the student would take to the problem they had chosen to work with, and so on. As with many students, there was occasionally some trouble when it came to narrowing a topic down. In such cases, I would remind my charges that time constraints meant they would be able to cover only two or three major points at best, so they needed to be focused and memorable in their delivery. Most of the students elected to craft their presentations according to a "problem-solution" structure, introducing the problem (e.g., finding a better alternative than detention centers for refugees, migrants, and "the stateless") with facts, then proposing solutions that would also contain the students' opinions on the matter. I found myself giving pretty much the same advice over and over: focus on delivering just two or three memorable points. Narrow your topic because you don't have time to range widely. Stick with the problem-solution structure. Do more research so you have a clear idea of what the problem and solution are. Be ready to define your core concept simply and clearly. Think about your conclusion.

I ended up finishing several minutes early, which gave me time to lumber over to Charles's office, talk with Charles, and change into my scraggly walking clothes while Charles worked on a page of translation. Sometime after 6PM, Charles and I headed out for a much-anticipated dinner... but that is the topic of a different blog post.

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