Sunday, April 11, 2010

Excellent video of Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College, talking about leadership. A great quote:
I said, "Dad, I'm so excited about my studies at Brown. I think I'm going to major in philosophy." So my father slowly turned the car and put it off to the side of the road, he looked back at me and said: "Hey, when you finish your residency, you can study anything you want." He said: "Look, you are a Chinaman" -- that's how he used to talk -- "You're a Chinaman. And you are not going to make it in this world if you study philosophy. If you think this country owes you anything, you're crazy. You have to get a skill."
On Leadership: Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim (Washington Post)

Korean American readers, don't hate your parents just because they want you to become doctors. Rightly or wrongly, they are trying to look out for you in the way they know.

Big thank you to Ashleen G. for sending the link.

7 comments:

  1. This is a good topic.

    To some degree, having parents who push you to major in a STEM field is a good thing.

    It's much better than SWPL parents who encourage their children to "pursue their dreams" which usually ends up with them living in a cardboard box supporting left-wing income redistribution politics.

    But at the same time, I feel bad for Koreans who want to pursue their passion, but are constrained by their parents.

    I'm torn at how to calculate the proper balance between the two disparate views.

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  2. I think some parents have a skewed view of how valuable certain professions are. My little brother had serious developmental delays in language and general reasoning ability. He can pass for OK now, but if you talk to him you can still tell that there's something off. My mom, who's Asian, pushed him towards a white-collar profession, basically stepping him through all his homework in college so he could scrape by in all his classes and get an accounting degree. She was so certain that just having that degree would make his life smooth. Now he sits at home with a degree that's useless for him because he's not actually smart enough to be an accountant. If she had accepted his limitations and sent him to learn plumbing instead, he might well be happy and employed now instead of frustrated and shiftless.

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  3. wow fantastic... he must be someone of great calibre if he became president of Dartmouth

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  4. There's a lot more to education than studying the sort of things that make you money. Even if a degree in philosophy isn't worth it for its own sake, which it is, it can lead to a career in law, education or journalism. Philosophy teaches reasoning and writing, which most certainly do count as skills.

    Asians and South Asians have long disdained liberal arts educations, and I've seen where it leads. You get people that make a lot of money in business or engineering, but have alarmingly little knowledge of literature, culture, history and anything else that doesn't directly relate to their job. That's fine, I guess, if all you care about is money.

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  5. Oh man do I remember this debate, when my friend Adrian Lee, said to his dad I want to study art.

    There was a silence for a moment and nearly violence at the table that night. He eventually did go on to study art and became a photographer and journalist.

    Everybody else who was Chinese or of Asian origin went to do accountancy, law, IT etc, architechture and three of my cousins became doctors.

    As a curious twist of fate, almost EVERYBODY who took up a vocational degree including me for that matter has never had stable employment.

    Myself as the accountant, my job kept on getting outsourced to India and software kept on getting better meaning less need for accountants.

    Architechture was also outsourced

    Medicine my cousins only one of three of them managed to get a training place in the UK after graduating from med school.

    IT got outsourced as many know.

    And the lawyer Asian friends I have their bosses are starting to make noises about outsourcing much of the donkey work to India too traditionally researched by the junior to mid staff for things like precedents etc.

    Even suing people has become automated in that the one that works says that they answer the phone the secretaries enter into a 30 questions database and draws up the legal papers putting ? marks where research is needed.


    And thus my wider family jumped through all the hoops demanded of their parents and yet most of us ended up on the scrap heap before we were 30 years old. I mean FFS one of my family works as a WG because so much work is outsourced and the current economic crisises.


    Oddly this makes me think about Joon a Korean guy I met in Siberia who apparently went nuts oneday in his corporate zombie slave job bought a motorbike and rode across Eurasia in a mirror version of what I did.

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  6. @Adeel


    They maybe monetarily wealthy but culturally poor, however Asian cultures (I don't know much about Korea mind) equate wealth = happiness.

    You only have to look at the religion and the way people are obssessed with money in HK.

    If you look at my library of books I have over 3000 books from Orwell to modern fiction to American Psycho, my dad only seems to read books by Li Kar Shing (the richest man in Hong Kong) and or ways to make money.

    I bought him a translated version of 1984 in 2001 and 9 years later he still hasn't managed to read it saying that it was irrelevant.

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  7. I can feel all of these remarks. I think there definately needs to be a balance between parents pushing their children and children being able to choose whatever they want. Guidance is totally okay, but forcing someone into a job or position that they don't actually want to do because it pays well isn't such a great thing to do. Money is power, sure, but I'd rather be happy and satisfied with my work than being the fat guy in the BMW with a trophy golddigger bride (sorry to anyone reading if that's you).

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