I don’t usually use this blog to educate people about science, but I am afraid that I feel it is necessary. So let’s take a moment to learn about coral, and what it is made out of.
Coral comprised of thousands of tiny animals called polyps.
Polyps are too small to see with the naked eye, but under a microscope you can see that a piece of coral is not a single entity. Rather; it is like an apartment complex.
A cooperative colony of polyps that all live together comprises what we think of as “a coral.”
Inside the coral polyps are something called zooxanthellae.
Zooxanthellae are specialized chloroplasts that are able to take sunlight and metabolize it into food for the coral, the same way a chloroplast in vegetation absorbs sunlight and metabolizes it into food for its its plant host.
Some corals also have tentacles that they stick out in order to try to catch bits of food that go by. However, all coral are dependent on their zooxanthellae for long-term survival.
You can think of a carnivorous plant like a Venus fly trap: it eats flies, but it will still die without the nutrients its chloroplasts make from sunlight.
This is why you must never touch coral. When you touch it or step on it, you are smashing hundreds of tiny polyps, and this does permanent damage to a coral. In fact, certain kinds of sunscreen are poisonous to coral, so you may even kill the entire colony just by being clumsy.
The lesson? Coral is a living organism made of many smaller living organism, and it’s not okay to touch it.
After I graduated from ASU, I took a job teaching English in South Korea.
I really wasn’t prepared for how hard it was going to be to adjust to the culture. I had to learn about new holidays, as well as a new language, and new ways to shop and travel.
I had volunteered as a teacher at The Thomas J Papas School for the Homeless, so I had a little bit of experience in a classroom. I had also volunteered at Tumbleweeds shelter (for teens) so I had a little bit of experience in talking with kids about difficult subjects.
However, nothing could prepare me for the role of a teacher in South Korean society. They expect a person to teach morals and values in addition to the subject matter. In Korea, it takes a village to raise a child. If any child asks you a question about anything, you’re supposed to give them your perspective.
At first this was hard, but I did learn to give advice with my lessons and to keep a cheerful and productive classroom in the meantime.
Later, I was given the freedom to design my own curriculum and write my own textbooks. I was very proud of my Dungeons and Dragons class, because the kids really enjoyed it, and they learned a lot of vocabulary from it.
I completed three contracts in South Korea, and worked under four different school directors. I was able to manage all the transition and complication, and still find time to explore the country.
In the end, it taught me a lot about teaching. However, I learned a lot more than that. I learned about culture, language and International Business. I gained perspective and became a more well-rounded person. I am very proud of the time I spent there.