I knew it was coming, and I knew it would be sprung on me, and it happened today! This morning my co-teacher tells me, “So we can’t go get you a phone today because we have the new teacher welcome dinner, but tomorrow we will go”. Ahem??? Perfect example of how Koreans do things! It was fine though. I’ve been keeping my weekly schedule pretty clear because I knew I would only find hours before it happened. I’ve learned to plan for lack of planning/information!
So, I got a ride to the place from a teacher who shares an office with me. She doesn’t speak English very well but I was impressed that she made and effort to communicate with me for the entire car ride (about 25min.). Her daughter lives in Montgomery, Alabama and is very home sick because she doesn’t have any friends. So we talked about ways she can meet people, and I’m going to try and think of more to tell her tomorrow. It was a very nice conversation. We talked about all the cities we had been to in the US and she’s been to quite a few that I haven’t so that was cool! Her English is actually a lot better than I thought! Makes me more inclined to work really hard to learn some Korean. I’m averaging about a phrase or two a day.
We got to the place for the dinner, and it turned out to be a kind of banquet hall that you rent out for events like birthdays, weddings, etc. and they had a massive buffet set up. One teacher explained to me that since the school is so big with so many teachers they have to rent out really big places with lots of space. I immediately noticed the karaoke set up in the front of the room. My co-teacher had been reminding me all day to prepare a song. Crap!
After everyone arrived we all went to get food. One of the teachers told me that I would have to pay for my food if I got any less than 3 plates, so the pressure was on to eat a ton of food. It was decent food, and I tried to get a little of everything (skipped the seafood, still can’t handle that). They also had a ton of fruit so I loaded up on pineapple, kiwi, and strawberries. Fruit here is so expensive to buy so I haven’t been eating a lot.
The toasts quickly began after everyone was slowing down, and then before I knew it was Noraebang time! The cute 6th grade teacher was running around with the book making everyone pick a song. If you’ve ever done karaoke with me, you know it takes me a long time to pick a song and get the courage to get up there. I was going to go all in though, so I picked the first song I thought I knew pretty well. Since it took me so long to decide, I was near the end, but I got to see some classy acts. The principal and vice principal jammed out, and everyone kind of stands in a circle of whoever is singing. Everyone claps along and sings the parts they know. I of course don’t know any Korean songs, but I told my co-teacher I want her to teach me one so I can impress everyone next time! Everyone started dancing and moving to the music. I quickly loosened up and then it was my turn! Ah! Cute teacher hands me the mic…and I start singing Billie Jean by MJ! Everyone was so excited and gathered close around me. I pretty much only focused on the tv, but I started to dance and get real into it. Some guys started to moon walk and dance with me. I actually did a pretty good job. Everyone told me I was such a good singer, haha. So, I’d say it was a success. They all wanted me to do an encore! I had a lot of fun. The vice principal brought me a beer and told me I was a great singer, and then in front of everyone asked me if I had fun! If I ever get a teaching job back home…I’m going to suggest this as a team building activity. It’s a great way to let loose and have fun with co-workers, and see each other in a whole new light!
After everything was over I got a ride home from one of the younger teachers in the school. She’s so adorable, and gets so mad at herself for being unable to communicate with me. I can tell we’d be great friends if it wasn’t for the language barrier. She told me on Friday that I need to hurry up and learn Korean so we can talk. I’m working on it!
Friday I have a dinner with the 5th grade teachers. Can’t wait to see what that is like!