Side dishes


Five more resumes sent yesterday and no replies today.  (see last post for what adoptees are up against here)

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Today’s conversation with a junior in high school today covered:  thoughts about testing for university entrance exams, (he thought testing did not measure potential – but it turns out several schools have changed to a western entry model which does measure potential – but its too early to have witnessed any effect) and suicide, (he felt those that commit suicide are self-absorbed and don’t stop to think that others are also going through the same experience) I also wondered about the demise of the yangban (the elite ruling class of old) which I theorized as never having really lost power and I learned that the chaebal ( dynastic, family-run corporations) were not the remnants of the ruling class but were instead turn-coats whose allegiance followed the money, whoever was holding it. (great business ethics model) I wrapped up with asking him whether it was true that the diminishing respect afforded the elderly had to do with western exposure, and the answer was not-at-all.  Probably due more to modernity in general.  He thought it was a bad thing, because the elderly have a lot of experience that the young could learn from.  What a nice, smart boy.

I also found out about social pecking order in student life and how important the beauty factor is, as well as more about university student life and the balance students strike between studies and extracurricular activities, most predominantly the club they join, which becomes the major part of their social lives. I taught him the difference between a nerd and a geek today, and how being a geek no longer has the stigma attached to it that it once did.  When asked to rate himself as a student, he gave himself a 10.  And I concur, since he was the only student to take advantage of an English conversation class.  We’re both glad for the extra time to be able to talk in-depth.

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So today I figured I’d better stock up on groceries while I still had some money left.

After getting some staples, I stopped by the banchan store and picked out a bunch of side dishes as my vegetable portions.  This time the adjumma was by herself, and after a few sessions of me pointing mutely at this or that dish, she asked me if I was Ilbon. (Japanese)

“Annio.  Migook saram.”  I said as I continued to pick out dishes.

Then she looked at me quizzically and asked me in Korean if I was Korean, to which I said I was.  And then I think she exclaimed, “and you can’t speak any Korean???”  To which I replied “no.  Annio.  Hangukmal.”  She really couldn’t believe this.  I think she must have said, “not any at all????”  And then I remembered to reply, “na-nun Ibyung-a.”

Her face dropped a million miles on the floor and she got soooo sad and gave an audible “awwwwwww,”  and she came over and gave me a full-on hug.  And then I think she must have been asking me if I was okay, and I was saying, I’m okay.  I’m okay.  The hug was nice.  Much better than the dark cloud and then moment of uncomfortable silence that usually happens.

While she was packing up all the dishes she stopped to ask me if I’d found my mother, and I told her no.  And again she asked me (I think) if I  was okay and she gave me a big hug and was patting me on the back like a child.

I told her again I was okay, thanked her for the yummy food, and carried my heavy bags slowly up the hill to my house.

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Thus concludes another noteworthy yet not really that atypical day…

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