Saturday, November 2, 2013

Feels like the Beginning - Part 1

This weekend I went on a trip to 거제도 (Geoje Island) with about 30 teachers and staff from my school including the Principle and VP. Everyone from my office came except my sixth grade co-teacher. Up until we departed, I had no idea what the trip's itinerary was. Nothing new there! I rarely know whats going on or what's going to happen next. Such is how life is here.

Initially, I did not want to go on this trip. I had plenty of reservations about going and even after I committed to going, I nearly backed out....with good reason! I developed acute tonsillitis this past week and had to take a trip to the doctors office (which is another post in itself!). By Thursday I felt much better and by the end of the day I decided to suck it up and go on the trip. You might be curious why the reservations. Though I've been here two months, I would hardly call the teachers I've met acquaintances, let alone friends! So it would be like going on a tour with a bunch of strangers. On top of that, Korea has a notorious workplace drinking culture - I'm not much of a drinker! In any other case, I would've said no to this trip. Something inside said "go."

Several weeks ago Yun-mi, my fourth grade coteacher and the eldest in our office, told me "It will be a good experience for you." Those simple words stuck with me. It will be a completely uncomfortable experience for me -this is what I kept thinking. Then I remember my good friend Tim Halverson once said, "God is more concerned with the message you bear than the comfort of your setting." So, as I said, I sucked it up and went.

Flash forward to now. I am 100% the heck glad I did.

We boarded the bus Friday at 3 in the afternoon. Normally I would have a 3oclock class, but the entire school scrunched all the classes into the morning so that the teachers could leave early. To heck with the kids, right? Well, I'm sure the principle going on this trip had something to do with it. So after some delicious birthday cake after lunch (a gift from one of my 5th grade students) I got on the bus, took a seat by myself, and prepared for a boring three hour ride down beyond Busan to an island I had never heard of until a few days before. After about 20 minutes into the ride, Mr 홍, who I will now and forever refer to as 행님(hang nim) which means older brother, got on the PA and told us (in Korean of course) we would now switch seats. We all drew cards and had to listen for our match.

This is when I met Sunny. Her real name is 순미. She is a 4th grade home room teacher. We are the same age and she can speak English very well. I recall seeing her maybe once or twice before this time. In Korean, I asked her name. That began a conversation that lasted the rest of the trip to our destination. It was the only real conversation I had with Sunny for the whole trip, but as soon as we arrived, I felt better about my decision to come.

To be continued....

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