Monday, May 17, 2010

Sports Day and A Wedding

May 4th was an exciting day for Hakseong Elementary School. It was our schools Sports Day, (more commonly known as Field Day in the US) and it was quite the spectacle. They had flags from several different countries hung up, tents set up with food and drinks (coffee and beer) for the school staff, and all sorts of gaming contraptions. The kids could barley contain their excitement before the festivities began.

Once all of the student's did their warm up in unison, which is an event in itself, the games began! There were relay races that involved just running. Then there were races that involved somersaults, and hurdles that were entirely too high and hula hoops. The younger kids did balloon pop races and bob-for-candy-that's in flour-where everyone else has also slobbered on, and tunnel races. There were several games of tug-a-war and a very interesting game they called "Blue Yellow." There were no rules to this game. Just two teams (blue and yellow) and about 200 cards in the middle of the field. When they blew the whistle, the teams rushed to the middle and began turning the cards to their teams color. Kids were punching and sprawling out their bodies to protect these was mayhem.

I got to participate in a few events myself. The first was a tug-of-war game with the parents. I was just told to get in line. Everything else was explained in Korean. There were three ropes laid out and two teams on either side of the field. Not how I usually play tug-of-war but I went with it. They blew the whistle and everyone started I started running. I quickly figured out the team that gets two ropes is the winner. Well, these are grown mom's and dad's and they are just as competitive as their kids. Let's just say I ended up flat on my back in the dirt with a mild case of rope burn. We lost.
After searching for some water (it's not readily available in Korea) I was handed a beer and once again waved over to participate in another activity. This time, it was a 200 yard race. All the mom's ran first and then the dads/male teachers. For some reason I wasn't allowed to run with the mom's, instead, I was put in the male league. This was an odd situation. I knew how competitive they were in the tug-of-war but I wasn't sure what to do. Should I run full out and try...or kind of hang back and jog a bit. But I didn't want to lose because I wanted to redeem myself in front of the students after wiping out in tug-of-war. Well, our school's business manager was in this race too. (He is the one at volleyball that's always yelling at me in Korean when I make a mistake. ) So I decided, as long as I beat him...that's is fast as I need to run.

Being a little cocky, he told me I could scoot up 3 yards for a head start. Well, that irritated me even more. They blew the whistle and I started out about 70%, then I noticed the business manager gaining...I decided there is no way I'm letting him beat me. Well...I don't know where it came from, but I just took off. I ended up beating everyone and even won three bars of soap and some toothpaste for my first place finish! The best part was seeing all the little girls cheering for me yelling, "Sarah Teacher number one!"

My thighs were sore for the next week from that little joy sprint.

Saturday May 8th Johnson got married! When I first met him, he went on and on about how he wanted to get married and how he wanted me to help him find a tall woman (even though he's only 5'4.) He met his lovely wife E.K in late October and popped the question in December.

I had been looking forward to this day ever since he told me because I was interested to see what a Korean wedding was like. I had heard that Koreans were beginning to have more western style weddings but I'm not sure where they had been looking for inspiration.

The wedding was held at the World Cup stadium. There is a very nice banquet area below the field. When we arrived, there were tons of people going every which way. I saw a sign with Johnson's name and so we followed it. There were several teachers from my school standing around outside of this room and when I looked in, I noticed that is where the wedding was. The whole thing was kind of bizarre. There was a small room, filled with white chairs and fake roses. The aisle was raised and lit up with different colors of neon lights. There were mirrors on the walls and the ceiling and neon lights lining the entire room that constantly changed colors. That's when it hit me...they must have been going for the Vegas style wedding!

All the sudden, Johnson started waking down the aisle and bowing and then his wife did the same. There was no announcement letting everyone just started. Most people that were standing outside the room didn't bother to come in. The seats were all filled so we just kind of stood in the back and watched in confusion. The whole ceremony lasted about 15 min and then they took a few pictures and it was over.

We didn't know what to do next, so one of the 6th grade teachers, Park, told us to follow him. We went downstairs to eat at a buffet. But the buffet wasn't just for Johnson's was for all the guests of all the weddings that day. After we ate...we just left.

I was told that you don't even need to show up on time to the wedding. As long as you stick around for the group photo then that's all that matters. You just want proof that you attended. It was all strange and interesting and exciting and I am glad I got to be a part of it!