Underlying Force Behind a Great Power
By Jung Woo-hyun
I felt excited and nervous as I looked down at the exotic white-covered village through the small round window in an airplane. The airplane landed, and there I was in an entirely different world. I was standing in America! Obviously both the people and language were different. Yet, it was later that more astonishing differences than I expected came home to me.
I chose to learn English and experience American at the Madison campus of the University of Winsonsin. My temporary home was a university dormitory where lots of American students lived. (Since my language school was included in the university, I could stay in the dormitory with university students.) I assimilated into this miscellaneous students naturally freely discussed our thoughts, culture, and everything else.
What I recognized by living, talking and drinking with Americans was that I had a misconception about America. I mostly considered America a country teeming with profligate freedom, which begets cruel criminals, immoral surrogate mothers, drug addicts, and other notorious characters. With these pre-conceived notions, I wondered how America had become the most powerful and prosperous country in the world and maintained its well-built infrastructure.
The reason of mighty America was easily testified by the college student's behavior. Most of them broke down their time into two categories, weekdays and weekends. During the weekdays, I could hardly hear a blatant noise in my room on in the corridor outside my room since everyone was busy doing their enormous homework projects and preparing for the next day's classes. On the other hand, on the weekends tranquility turned into tumult with parties, singing, and you name it.
One day, the mid-term exams were impending. On my way back to the dormitory, I could perceive quite a different atmosphere in the street. All of the cafes along the street were full of people reading books and writing down notes seriously. I ascertained that they were students preparing for the exam. However, I wondered whether a cafe was a better place to study than a library. Curiosity led me to check the library in which I found there was no space due to lots of people reading books and eating sandwiches for supper while sitting on the floor. There was a spate of people. The milieu in this American university library was very different from one in Korea where I could see a bunch of vacant seats with piled books on the desk signalling that someone had vacated his/her seat for a long chat just outside the library.
The difference between attitudes in two libraries concerned me. What I learned in an American library was the ethos behind a great power. Where there is smoke, there is fire. This is unchangeable. That mighty America has been deriven by the individual forthright effort of its people is what we should take to our hearts.
A new year and semester has just begun. With a new belief and novel thought, we should be an exemplar of all a new standard of excellence.
Our behavior is a harbinger of Korea's doom.
The writer is a senior student in the Dept. of English Lang. & Lit. at DU
Jung Woo-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
<저작권자 © 동국포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>