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Letter from the Chief - April 2012
[ Issue 114 Page 2 ] Tuesday, May 01, 2012, 01:16:57 Jae Young Byon jaebyon@kaist.ac.kr

Dear Readers,

Yes, I admit it - I am a HUGE fan of football. By football I refer to, of course, that incredible sport that is wrongly termed “soccer” in certain parts of the world, and as a passionate fan I try to catch all the matches that Chelsea, a club I have supported since my days in elementary school, take part in. My recently formed conviction that I jinx my team when watching them live has discouraged me somewhat, but I still find myself glued to the TV screen whenever the opportunity arises. The point of all my rambling is that Chelsea have recently emerged from what has thus far been a tumultuous and disappointing season to win 10 of their last 14 matches. This reversal of fortune has coincided with a change in management, and interim manager Roberto Di Matteo has been lauded for possibly saving the team’s season.

What does this tell us, exactly? Well, I believe we can take away many things from this case, but most important is recognizing that the measurement of success is often a subjective business. It could be argued that previous Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas’s unique approach to the game and his plans to rejuvenate an aging team may have led to his sacking, with the club’s owner too impatient to “sacrifice” this season in order to reap much greater rewards in a year or two. Di Matteo’s reliance on the old guard, while proving highly effective for the time being, cannot last and is only prolonging the inevitable period of much-needed transition at the club. We will never know what success Villas-Boas may have achieved had the management and the fans kept trust in him through a difficult season or two. What we do know is that the public has decided to criticize one manager and praise another on a set of judgment criteria that is as arbitrary, or as valid, as any other. If the older players’ continued decline prevents Chelsea from performing at the highest level, perhaps only then will the fans and pundits alike rue the sacking of the visionary manager.

We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, and whether we like it or not, there are jobs and roles each of us is best suited for. If we can find different football managers, all of whom are unquestionably talented but with highly contrasting skill sets and suited to different teams, then why do we students, who haven’t yet made commitments to professions or work, limit ourselves to a handful of jobs and a fixed standard to judge ourselves by? Aside from our similar academic achievements in the past that allowed us to enroll at the university, we KAIST students are all unique individuals. Attaining high grades at school or in college does not necessarily mean that you should continue your studies to become a researcher or professor – by all means you can, but if you should be so blessed as to have other skills and interests, those too would make fine career options. Likewise, students with less stellar GPAs may in fact be better suited to academia, as is often pointed out by many of the professors.

If that isn’t reason enough, consider this: with recent advances in medical technology and the general rise in living standards, people can realistically expect to live beyond a hundred years of age. This means that there’s plenty of time to choose, reconsider and perhaps most importantly, work at your profession. If I’m to work for a century, I’d rather not spend that time working at a job I hate. I suggest you do your best to avoid such a situation yourself.

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