Last Friday, my teacher’s class took me out for a teacher appreciation dinner.
The one male teacher didn’t show up, so it was a girl’s night out. Which was interesting, because I got to explore a little of what it means to be a woman in Korea. I can’t say it sounds like the greatest thing in the world, but hopefully it is improving. The married tend to feel burdened by their lives, (I’ve even been told by married women, upon hearing I am divorced, “you’re lucky to have divorced so young.”) and the unmarried feel pressure to get married: again, it sounds very similar to the lives of women in the United States during the 50’s.
The school nurse, whose English level is very high, told me of all the English teachers she’s had, and she’s had many, she likes my approach best, because I force them to express their thoughts and opinions and not just repeat dialogs. I found out there have been three English teachers before me at this high school, and they all had a difficult time there. Except the last one who was a guy. He went to every church service, allowed Mr. Lee to skip every class, and used a lot of handouts. He was there three years.
When I got back from Gangneung today, Y said that all the teachers were talking about me while I was gone. She said that I have taught them all something. That most Koreans would change their positions given what I was up against. But I didn’t change and held my position. That I fought for what was right no matter what. She said they think I am courageous and beautiful and strong.
Both Y and I were nursing ailing stomachs and bowels and she asked what we do when we have those kind of problems. So I told her we eat bland food like toast or rice or a banana. She went and bought me a box of some kind of bread. “Not delicious. But healthy.” and then drove me home with them. I love Y.
And then my tutor is the greatest. Somehow, my one hour lessons seem to stretch on to two or more hours every time. Because we get to talking about other things. It’s really great to be able to speak with someone who is fully Korean but fluent in English. I can ask her questions about culture and get a thorough explanation of their subtleties, and I can complain about problems I encounter with culture shock, and she totally gets it because she’s traveled a lot and doesn’t give me that buck-up and shut-up smile that the other Koreans give me. She’s also so aware of western culture that she recognizes when some of the things we encounter are unreasonable expectations from Koreans. Most of her friends are also adoptees, and she’s totally aware of all we’ve been through and then continue to go through once we move here. She’s the first Korean I’ve met who’s offered to just hang out – her suggestion – and she’s always offering to help above and beyond the lessons. I need to get her a belated teacher’s day present, since I didn’t know about it when I should have gotten her something.