Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday

Last week, it was one of the first grader's birthdays. This kid was throwing a birthday party. I didn't see it start, but soon everyone in the classroom was holding little paper cutouts. Invitations. By milk-break time everyone in class was talking excitedly. This party was such a big deal that several students took the time to tell me all about it.
"Shannon Teacher, Lotte Mart! 2!"
"Two," I asked? Two students looked at each other for a moment, then agreed to make hand movements simulating going up the flat escalators (those moving sidewalks, only they're elevated) in the store.
"Upstairs," I asked? They almost nodded. They weren't sure. Then I moved my fingers as if to walk up the stairs, and pointed up.
"Yes, 2!" Alright we were on the same page. What's happening up on the second floor?

After much more charades and random Korean/English words, they had successfully told me the event, location, time, and persons hosting. It was the hardest I think I'd ever seen them trying to speak English. Well, that's not quite true. There have been instances where these little guys hastily attempt to tell me who's been fighting  in the hallway. They give me all the details in the form of replays. Who started the fight, how it was started, where they are now. Still, I felt especially proud of them for telling me about the birthday party because they had to think of altogether different English words, and rather than be satisfied with sound effects, they took the time to think of the words to say.

While all this explaining was happening, it seemed like every kid in the classroom pulled out their cellphones to call their parents about the party. They looked like little businessmen and women, seeing when they had an opening in their busy schedules. One of the students, whose mom is the 3rd grade teacher down the hall, called his mom while she was teaching to ask about the party. Why couldn't he just walk down the hall and ask? Better yet, why couldn't he just wait until lunch time to talk to her when she wasn't busy? I left the classroom and saw her standing in the hallway, on the phone. Ridiculously funny.

You know, I've heard that Korean birthdays are celebrated differently from western cultures. I haven't experienced a Korean birthday party yet, but I've heard that it is the birthday boy/girl who pays for everything if they want to, say, go out to dinner with friends. I find this strange. Shouldn't friends/family pull together to do something special for the birthday girl/boy? Another thing I've learned is that its customary to eat seaweed soup on your birthday. I don't know the exact details, but I believe it's a traditional food because it's what the mother would eat while she was pregnant (for the baby).

Well, I like seaweed soup, provided it has bits of cooked beef floating around in it. Though, since my birthday falls in between Christmas and New Years, I wonder who I'll be spending it with. You see, Christmas in Korea is a dating holiday, and New Years is spent watching the sun rise in the East. I have a feeling people will have plans (as always).

'Til next time,

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