'Seoulful' experience for Positive Lifestyle Program
17 November 2015
Major Christine Pickens* has conducted Positive Lifestyle Program (PLP)** training in Seoul, South Korea.
The major said the cultural and linguistic barriers were surmountable, especially with the help of a translator. ‘I can talk very fast,’ she said, ‘so I had to slow down my training delivery.
‘Having queries translated during breaks in the training was a challenge, but we achieved clarity through clarifying questions.’
The majority of those trained were female Koreans, mostly COs. There are 10 divisions in the Korea Territory, which includes The Salvation Army’s work and interests in South Korea, North Korea and Mongolia. The Salvation Army first started work in Seoul in 1908.
The major noted that ‘women in Korea are not on an equal footing with men, but this was not a challenge as a trainer. I was mindful when I was speaking to men, however, of the cultural context.’ Observing etiquette and appropriate body language, she clarified, was helpful in the communication process.
‘Since westernisation,’ the major said, ‘South Koreans face more societal pressures when it comes to raising children. Both parents in the workforce, and having older people institutionalised, are both key aspects to those pressures.
‘Then you have a growing HIV problem, and growing homelessness, plus a high percentage of young people committing and attempting to commit suicide.
‘The resulting counselling needs are wide and varied, including issues such as depression and the social stigma around sexuality and HIV/AIDS. There is considerable pressure for young people to excel and succeed in business and their careers, and in a very religious country there are expectations that people will spend time in prayer and undertake long working hours’.
Major Pickens notes that ‘the same learning outcomes in Australia were present in Seoul. People were made more aware of their own issues and how those issues can impact on their lives and on others.’
One linguistic variation came with the need to translate the PLP term ‘facilitator’ into the Korean word for ‘helper’, which brought a pastoral sense to the training.
* The territorial PLP coordinator and ‘learning and development consultant – community services’.
** PLP looks at issues such as anger management, problem solving, depression and goal setting, etc. It was first introduced to the Australia Southern Territory by Major Ashley Davies, in 1993, from the Canada and Bermuda Territory. It now has several components, including Aboriginal, African, youth, Chinese, Korean, and ‘group’ versions. The ‘New Possibilities’ PLP version has an enhanced faith component.
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