Thursday, November 14, 2013

What a day: Walking, Talking, and an Unexpected Party

**This post is from a while back, early October -- got lost in the muddle of things. It's all about housecleaning today :D

Refreshed from the holiday (i.e. day off from school), I got tons of lesson planning done and I got to listen to and watch, through the window, the students at Doam practice a dance for the upcoming sports day. Who I presume was the phy ed teacher chanted into the loudspeaker as the kids danced their hearts out to a Korean song that belongs in a Wes Anderson film. It was so fun. The kids were loving being outside and I couldn't help but root for run through after run through; I could've listened to the sounds of sports day practice all day.

After lunch, Sin Hyeon Gyeong asked if I wanted to go for a walk. We walked around the school grounds, including the playground. Students were playing soccer, swinging, jumping on equipment, riding bikes, and chattering away. I told Sin Hyeon Gyeong that I wished I could go back to elementary school. We laughed about getting older -- queasy stomachs after swinging and "mom" worries. She has two boys so her mom worries are real, mine just sympathetic and about my little brothers. But her attitude about those worries are right on. She told me, "I tell them to be safe. If you want to climb high into a tree, take the time to get down." She is the coolest. 

We also talked about Hangul and King Sejong. He was a good king, a good man, and he invented a writing and reading system that works. Korea has an illiteracy rate that is essentially zero. That stat was particularly astounding to me when I first learned about it. I'm not exactly sure why, but I could better understand why it was perfect to take a day off from school to celebrate. To celebrate Hangul, what it means to and what it gives to the Korean people, and to honor a good king who was also a good man. The pride runs deep in Korea. I greatly love and admire that.

After school, I had sort of an unexpected party. Two days before the holiday, I was finally able to walk "home" with the second grade teacher. We had made plans to do this during my first week of school after she discovered I liked hiking and that we lived in the same area. She speaks some English (quite well) but with my lack of knowing Korean, our conversation was limited yet pleasant. We talked about the upcoming holiday, hiking (at Bukhansan and Mount Yongmun), and the various "things" around us. She would point to something and say what is was in Korean and then I'd say what it was in English. When we made it to her house, she generously invited me inside and we ate dinner -- water kimchi, kimchi, rice, and soup (delicious).

This successful walk and talk led to a visit to my apartment. I knew for sure that it was going to be the second grade teacher and the President of the school. Now, this is something that would have made me mildly uncomfortable in America -- having such a respected teacher and the President of the school coming over to my house. But being in Korea, I'm like, "Come on down!! You're the next visitor to my tiny apartment!" Totally unfazed. It wasn't until we arrived at my apartment that I realized two other teachers from my school would also be joining us -- for a small church service. Five people. In my apartment. Again, bring it on, Korea.

However unexpected, it was a great experience. We sang a hymn, they asked me where my English Bible was (um, in America), and they brought traditional house-warming gifts of tissues, laundry detergent, and bottled grape juice. The President showed us pictures of her sister's family, who live in America, and they enjoyed looking at the pictures I have taped to the walls. We went out for dinner at a place just up the street from my apartment. Rice, fish, kimchi, soup, rice water, and loads of other Korean side dishes I can't name. As we were saying out fare-thee-wells, I was asked about my hip size, which I think may translate into a shopping excursion one of these days. Who knows haha. 

What a day. Full of company and honest conversation. 

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