Not to be a downer this week, but did you hear about the American exchange student who was detained in North Korea for 17 months for attempting to steal a propaganda poster? Maybe. Did you also hear that he was RELEASED IN A COMA and DIED a few days later?

Otto Warmbier, 22, died this past week after being in a come in North Korea for months.

I just...I don't know what I want to say about this, except that it's terrible and I hate that it happened. Even as adult students, we're not safe. As educators, especially in this country, we want to encourage travel and the broadening of horizons in other ways, but do we also need to educate our students about the real dangers of certain places? Most middle schoolers and high schoolers these days probably have some negative feelings toward North Korea already; they may not fully understand the conflict (I'm not even confident that I do), but they know the connotations of the words when they hear them in this country. 

Was Otto wrong or "stupid" to try and steal that poster? Morally, no. Practically? Maybe. He did say "I have made the worst mistake of my life." But even then, he couldn't know the real repercussions of his action(s), and maybe neither could any of us.

After Sunday's bear attack (and another one Monday!), a classmate and fellow outdoorsman said, "It doesn't mean we should just sit indoors and play on our computers for the rest of our lives." But how do we protect ourselves, and our students, in these kinds of cases? Do we just keep them informed with news articles like these, or is there a better/another mode of prevention? Will there be another case like this? How many similar cases have there been before this one, where no one died but was seriously injured or harmed, physically or psychologically?

I don't like the state of the world right now. I don't like it all. How do we change it?


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