Monday, March 18, 2013

Hwe Shik Stories

A 'hwe shik' 회식, is a work dinner, an opportunity to join in fellowship with your co-workers, or a chore to be endured until you can get away from your annoying office-mates. While I was at Young-il HS, I was Crown Prince of the hwe shik, invited about monthly to dinners of numerous departments to which I not only didn't belong, but often never even heard of.

Well, things are a little different on the elementary school scene. In the month it took for Yangmyung Elementary to have my 'Welcome' dinner, I had already had at least three dinners in my honor at Young-il. This hurt my feelings, naturally, as it suggested I wasn't really being made welcome at Yangmyung. And not just dinners, but dinner, plus second round, plus third round (usually a noraebang). I have yet to hear of a noraebang experience by faculty at Yangmyung Elementary.

I'm not trying to say that Yangmyung Cho teachers are wimps, but they definitely don't have the perseverance of HS teachers. Anyway, we had a 'first week of school' hwe shik last Monday, and a "man teacher only" hwe shik tonight. Though the lady Vice-Principal was there, of course, because she's got bigger cohones than just about anyone in the whole school.

The place we went to was just up the street from my officetel, called "Blue Pine Tree".

 photo hweshik1_zpsef250a52.jpg

I would have said I've eaten or passed on every kind of Korean food by now, but they had some panchan or side-dishes I've never had before. And almost everything was veg or fungus. Finally, delicious though the other courses were, we got the meat: duck! Ironically, we had duck for lunch at school today. I didn't mention it, in case no one else noticed. Yum:

 photo hweshik2_zps8fad8c3d.jpg

Well, I was just about ready to go when finally the soju and maekchu started to flow--not that I was wanting, but I was looking forward to the effect it would have on the others. Finally, I heard what I was waiting for as the conversation turned to me. Not that I wanted to hear I was the winner in the "'Who can drink the most' Competition", although (parenthetically) it was me. No, I wanted to hear what the Principal thought about me ... as a teacher.

He was worried when I arrived last September, and thought I would not be a good teacher for young children. Yeah, you know, I understand that--sometimes little ones think I'm "scary". I totally get it: I am a big, imposing figure. But, he has changed his mind, and is very happy with me--the children like me very much, even though they think I am "hard" (a challenging teacher). He said the children think I am the best! I smile all the time and am very kind. I high-five them or greet them somehow when they come in the classroom, I can be silly or serious.

Back home, I used to do a weekly science lesson (10 minutes or less) with 4, 5 and 6 year olds, and a dozen times, I've had a little one ask me, awestruck, "Are you really Santa Claus?" That has already happened here--and I don't even have a beard anymore.

So, getting back to the point, we didn't even go to second round.

No comments: