Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dinner and the After-Party

I bet you're wondering what happened to the rest of the story? I'll tell you!

After the badminton game, there was a teacher's dinner. I wrote this email to my mom about it. Below is a CNN article that further explains my experience.


On Wednesday all the teachers and staff played badminton together. Korean
schools (teachers and staff) like playing sports games together, and many
schools like competing with each other! I don't know if we'll compete with
any schools. After the game, we all went out to dinner. This dinner was just
like the first one at the beginning of the school year, but a little
different. Besides it being a school dinner, we were also welcoming one
teacher and saying goodbye to another. The current second grade teacher was
a substitute (which I hadn't known until the day before this dinner), and
had been hired from the first day of school. The original 2nd grade teacher
was on maternal leave from having a baby.

In Korean culture, drinking is a big part of these dinners. In the past, man
or woman, people couldn't refuse drinks/toasts, etc. from superiors during
these dinners. However, today, it's become more acceptable to turn down a
drink (although men still get pressured to do so). Foreigners are not
completely held to these rules (especially if their religion forbids
drinking), but they are still encouraged to share in this culture. A lot of
the Korean-American male TaLK scholars are treated as locals in this case.

This drink that I'm talking about is usually soju in a shot glass, and
there's a ceremonial way of sharing it. The youngest pours for the oldest
first, and the oldest drinks. Then the oldest pours for the youngest (into
the same cup) and the youngest drinks it. There's even a special way to
drink and pour, which makes it "a korean thing."

So anyway, I feel like I have to explain the whole culture thing to you, but
I will just continue with the story. In the past, I've been able to avoid
these "drinking encounters" with superior staff and other people at dinner
by simply avoiding eye contact, or talking to people whenever it looks like
someone might come over and ask to share the drink. Oh, but this time, the
vice principal called my name when I didn't make eye contact with him. I
ended up having to do this ceremony with him, with guidance from my mentor
teacher. He reluctantly only filled the bottom of the glass because I kept
asking him if he could pour water instead. In an effort to not be completely
rude, I poured for him and drank when he poured for me (it's only done once
between people). Ah, but now I know that if I go to another dinner, he will
try and get me to do the ceremony toast again and drink a little more than
last time. I can't help but think " this is war!" and i have to battle
against or negotiate with this part of Korean culture.

Well! That was the biggest bit of news. After the dinner, we went to a
noraebang (no-reh-bahng....literally "singing room") (a building with many
different sized rooms for people to rent and sing karaoke). I embarrassed
myself singing in front of everyone with a squeaky voice because I was
really nervous and the song was a little too high hahahah. They didn't seem
to care. Everyone took turns singing.



'Til Next Time,


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