Thursday was my first day of school. And for the first time BreeAnn and I got ready for work at the same time. Not a lot of words are said at that hour of the day. A smile from across the apartment, a “Hey, you look really good”, and a kiss good-bye was about all that was exchanged. It was still fun sipping coffee and getting ready together.
I walked about three minutes to my bus stop and started perspiring. Partly because of the humidity and partly because it said the next bus that was coming for me was twenty minutes away. I started to panic but then I noticed a different numbered bus that could get me to school was only four minutes away.
After arriving at school I met my co-teacher in an office that has several work stations. I was then informed that today I would not have any duties with children, and I could go in the English room and prepare my introduction powerpoint for my classes next week. It was nice to ease into school this way and gave my co-teacher and I some valuable planning time.
I was then told that I would be broadcasted to the school near 10:30. So around 10:30 I straightened my tie and went downstairs to be on the school’s TV. First they played the national anthem, and I guess I never asked what the courtesy is when in another country. So I stood politely with my hand on my heart just like them. The principal, vice-principal, and head of teachers spoke first and then I was introduced. The teacher next to me nudged me and my co-teacher was also waiving at me to go stand in front of the podium. It was a little nerve-wracking but I made it through and went back to my room.
Around lunch time I went back down to the teachers’ room and we all walked together to the cafeteria (shic dang). They were all so nervous that I wouldn’t like the food, but it was really good. Some sort of soup, a potato side dish, rice, and roasted duck with hot sauce. We sat down together and had some nice conversation. Luckily a couple of my teachers were willing to translate for me. As I was sitting there one of the new teachers who is 62 was looking at my face. It was then translated to me that “This woman is a teacher during the day but at night her second job is fortune-telling. But she does not read palms. She reads faces.” And apparently she was giving me a free face reading. The teachers told me, “She says that you have good ears. You will have a long life. You have a big nose, and people with big noses are rich. Also she can tell by your lips that you will have three children. One child in Korea, one child in Japan, and one child in America.” I just smiled and nodded politely. Later she picked up my spoon and scooped up the remaining rice and told me to eat it. She said she was like my mother and I needed to eat all of my food like a good boy. It was quite an eventful first lunch.
Randomly throughout the day people would ask me if I like volleyball. First the principal, then vice-principal, and a teacher or two. Apparently the teachers have a very competitive volleyball league with two other elementary schools. They practice once a week and have a competition every so often. So they asked me to practice with them on Friday (today) but I had a teachers orientation. Later on I think I might have to give it a try.
At the end of the day I was invited to eat dinner with them Friday (today). A teacher was kind enough to write down the name of the restaurant and area in Korean. She said to show it to a taxi driver and he will take me to the correct place. I was running a bit late so as I popped my head upstairs into the restaurant the whole staff started clapping! I smiled, bowed, and said, “Annyong haseo” (Hello). They really like it when I try out my Korean on them. I was sat next to the principal and across from the vice-principal. I was so nervous because in Korea, they respect them so much more. We respect ours too in the states, but this is on a different level. Most people do not talk to them unless they talk first. If they pour you a drink, you always hold the drink with two hands and drink away from them. Also I was sitting on the floor, which I was never really good at. Overall it was a very enjoyable experience. I ate Octopus Bibimbap which was really good. I was also near about four or five other English speakers. So I was able to have conversations with all of them and enjoy myself. I look forward to more outings with the staff of Seosan Elementary.