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Published On: Tue, Jul 9th, 2013

Asiana flight crash landed at SFO killing 2 teenage students from China

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On July 6, at 11:32am, Asiana flight 214 crashed landed at SFO. It has been 57 years since a commercial plane crashed at SFO and over 4 years since the US has had a major plane accident. This accident is a classic example of intercultural communication where the Korean co-pilot respected hierarchy and waited for the captain’s orders despite knowing something was terribly wrong. Most Asian cultures respect hierarchy but with the growing demand in commercial travel, we will have even more young, inexperienced pilots flying the friendly skies relying on their authority figures to instruct them.

This plane originated from Shanghai and stopped over Seoul before heading to San Francisco. On board this flight were 141 passengers from China of which 70 were students flying to the US for summer camp. One group of 29 students with their 4 instructors was from Zhejiang. These students were part of a tour that went to San Francisco for 2 days and then to Los Angeles. The Chinese students were supposed to work on their English skills at a West Hills church-run summer camp in the mornings and tour universities in the afternoons. They would have lived with host families in the San Fernando Valley and gone sightseeing on weekends. They had planned to tour the Bay Area before heading south but all of that changed on Saturday. 3 out of the 29 students were missing. One was hospitalized for injuries but the other 2 students did not survive the crash. Our thoughts go out to the families of the 2 female students Linjia and Mengyuan.

I think that Chinese parents, given the one-child policy, will be quite shaken by this accident. They will think hard before they let their only child get on a plane to fly all the way to the USA. However, the way our emergency response team and SFO handled the accident and got the passengers out before the fire got worse was amazing. With over 300+ passengers, the two fatalities is truly remarkable. If you have international students who are expressing their anxiety for flying, let them know that flying is still safer than escalators and cars.

Irene Tieh
Cross-Cultural Connector and
Founder of USA College Connection

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