In Egypt, auto fixer teaches and learns

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In Egypt, auto fixer teaches and learns

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt ― Kim Bu-jung, 46, has a job few other Koreans do: He teaches auto repair techniques to Egyptians.
“There are a lot of Korean cars here, and we have to be responsible for repairing them,” said Mr. Kim, a researcher at the Korea University of Technology and Education.
Few Koreans live in this port city, 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Cairo, Egypt’s capital. Here, Mr. Kim has been commuting between the Muhammad Big training center and his residence. He has a gaunt look, having lived alone for six months.
He says he has gotten close to his 20 Egyptian trainees and has naturally learned a lot of Arabic. He boasted that he could speak “fluent survival” Arabic.
Mr. Kim is cheerful these days ― the Korea International Cooperation Agency opened a training center for auto repair techniques here in June, the product of a six-month effort to teach and prepare staff members for the opening of the center.
“When I came here in January, I was surprised to see nothing but a blackboard and rusted auto parts in the training room,” Mr. Kim said. “I know that from now on, I can teach things properly, in an advanced facility.”
Eight Korean cars and training equipment were shipped from Korea. The training center has high-tech facilities, and even students from an engineering school at Alexandria come to the center for hands-on training.
Mr. Kim first came to Egypt in 1997, when the Korea International Cooperation Agency opened an auto repair training center in Cairo and sent him as an instructor. He saw that the streets were packed with Korean vehicles and realized he had come to the right place.
Hyundai Motor and GM Daewoo Motor & Technology cars command half the new auto market in Egypt, but there were few technicians who could work on Korean cars. There was no training in repairing Korean autos and training facilities were insufficient.
Now the Korean auto repair training centers in Cairo and Alexandria have hundreds of applicants every year. The unemployment rate in Cairo and Alexandria is over 20 percent and taking those kind of courses guarantees a job.
Born in Uiryeong, South Gyeongsang province, Mr. Kim is a well-known auto technician. He learned auto repair skills in high school, and placed first in the Korea Skills Competition in 1979 and fourth at the World Skills Competition in the United States in 1980. Before coming to Egypt, he went to the United States to teach auto repair technique instructors.
“Auto production and exports are important, but repairs must follow,” Mr. Kim said. “Otherwise, [it’s like having] only gynecologists but no pediatricians.”


by Seo Jung-min
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