Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Unexpected Trip to Dreamland

Hi everyone! Shirby here. Let me tell you about my trip to Dreamland.

In May 2012, the elementary school I worked at had their first field trip day of the year. Everyone except a few select staff were left at school to "hold down the fort".

A majority of the school was going to go to Cheongju… or Daegu… or Daejeon… or somewhere fancy like that. I can't remember now, it's been too long. …and the kindergarten was going to an amusement park called Dreamland.

Now, I hadn't known about the kindergarteners going on a field trip. Since I worked with 1st-6th grade, I only ever heard about their activities. I had been told to arrive at school early in the morning so I could join them.

I was waiting on the bus with first and fifth graders. They were so excited, and it was quickly rubbing off on me. This would be my first field trip with them. This was also my first time being a chaperone on a school-related trip.

Then the bad news came.

I had to get off the bus. The teachers and staff told me (in the best way they could) that I would not be able to join them because they had miscounted. I was taking the spot of another teacher. I would need to stay at school.

So, I was feeling pretty down, pretty sad.
--(I mean, I'm pretty sure I'd taken a taxi that day because I wasn't yet able to read the bus schedule and figure out which bus to take so early in the morning. It was one of those stressful moments of life that engulfed me with fear... only to disappear when I successfully overcome them).--
The teachers and staff are apologizing a lot, and ushering me away from the chaos of the busses. I'm wondering how the rest of my day will go. I ask my teacher if I can go home. The students won't return until well after my classes end. She tells me I must stay at school for a few hours, and then I can go home.

*pause, makes a face*

Ok. Ok. So, I head into the school. The busses are driving off behind me. The classroom where my desk is is locked, so I sit in the office. (This was before I knew how to ...or even that I had permission to... ask the staff for the room key). After about 5 minutes, I decide to go play on the school piano.

After about 10 minutes of piano playing, I hear my name being called. One of the teachers finds me and tells me (in Korean) that I can go on the kindergarten field trip. I don't understand most of what he's saying, but I just nod and follow him to the kindergarten side of the building, where the head teacher translates for me... and I hesitantly agree.

I have a lot of dumb questions running through my head.

What? Why haven't they left yet? Why is there room for me to go with the kindergarteners and not the classes I work with every day?

Then, I tell myself to shut up and be happy that I don't have to sit in a near-empty school for 2+ hours. This is an adventure, I tell myself. Accept it!

And so I did. It went a little like this:

As I look through the footage, one part of the trip stands out most in my mind. Lunch time. The kids had packed lunches, and the teachers had prepared lunches for themselves. It was one of those moments where I was truly grateful and thankful for the sharing culture that exists in Korea. Not only did the teachers share their lunch and extra drinks with me, but they made a show of sharing bites of lunch from student lunches. Honestly, it looked kind of like they were abusing the sharing culture a bit, but as a result of the teachers walking around and nibbling bits of food from each student, some of the students got up and shared food with me. I hadn't prepared a lunch. I hadn't known to prepare a lunch. I wished I had known, because then I would've gotten up and shared whatever I had with the others, too. As I sat there and shared lunch with everyone, I wondered how lunch time would've gone at the other field trip I was suppose to be on.

When I arrived back at school with the kindergartners, the staff who had stayed at school kept asking me if I'd really had fun on the trip. I had this feeling that they were either set on making up with me, or they couldn't believe that I'd enjoy running around with little kiddies all day.

Let me tell you, I made crazy brownie points that day. The kindergarteners were a portion of the students who I would ordinarily never have gotten to meet during my time at that school. Suddenly, they all knew me. For the remainder of the school year, they would greet me in the hallways and shout HELLO at the top of their lungs during lunch. The trip also allowed me to get to know the kindy teachers better. I found them to be great people, teachers whom I also wouldn't have gotten close to had it not been for the field trip.

Dreamland was a fun experience, and a great adventure.

'Til next time,

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