Saturday, July 24, 2010

The good stuff...

Last night, I finally had the Dragon family over to my place for dinner. Mr. Choi, one of our school’s Phys. Ed. teachers and in many ways, the patriarchal figure to our many students, has with great kindness and generosity had me join his family for dinner at his home and at restaurants four times since I came to the school in March of last year. One of those times included having my visiting parents out for dinner and taking them back to his family home for dessert, to watch a video of his participation in a zany physical Korean game show, and to try some of his “stamina increasing” home alcohol brew. He told my dad that it was “liquid Viagra!”

On the drive home that night, Mr. Choi and my mom sang an impromptu version of the Carpenters’ “The End of the World”, which both knew by heart for different reasons. A classic moment, really.

So, last night, though I was beginning to regret my timing due to summer camp stresses, I had Mr. Choi and his wife and their two girls: Molly and Choi Lee, my Math teacher friend Monica, and the rabbit over for dinner.

The rabbit helped me immensely amid my running-around, making alternate arrangements for dog-sitting, and generally losing my mind over my chaotic schedule where everything seemed to be bottle-necking into a 24 period over Friday and Saturday.

Though we had had great times together on previous visits, I knew that the family might be a bit nervous knowing that this would be there first time going to a foreigner’s house for dinner. Having the rabbit and Monica there was a huge help for everyone.

Choi Lee (the youngest girl, and natural gymnast, as a side note) was particularly shy when she came into my place – hiding behind her mom, and actually leaving the apartment for some time - her father having to go and retrieve her. She did warm-up.

I thought last night of the times that my sister and I would accompany our parents to their friends’ houses for dinner, how we would occupy ourselves, and how we would work hard in our own ways to survive spending a night with relatively strange adults.

Molly, whose English is quite good, always seemed to enjoy being around me and using her language skills, while Choi Lee preferred to hang on tight to her parents until she thawed as a result of the increasing general comfort throughout the evening.

Last night, Flip & Flop played a role, too. As I suspected, the girls really loved the stairs at my loft – climbing up with my two turtles and letting them race about upstairs – finding little adventures with the turtles and the various landscapes they would create for them with my mattresses and boxes. And both girls thought of a turtle tribute of their own to present.

The dinner of Deun-jeong Jiggae, vegetarian chili, and salad went over well, as did the ice-cream and fruit dessert. After that, we had a few games of “Yut” – a traditional Korean game, and a few more drinks, and then a quick skype conversation with my parents back in Canada before everyone headed home.

I was stressed leading-up to the night, not sure how comfortable everyone would feel about being in a foreigners house (what customs to expect etc.), but afterward I couldn’t have been more pleased. Having so much Korean fill the room put everyone at ease and made everyone I’m sure feel more confident with trying some English from time to time.

It felt like family – especially when we had a chance to connect to my real family back home. Not sure if my mom though she would ever have an opportunity to sing a duet with Mr. Choi again, but she did.

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