Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interactions in a Nutshell, well Three

Ian's birthday is tomorrow.  Unfortunately, so is our weekly meeting.  It was originally scheduled for 11:30 (which gave me hopes of a run), but when I went in to ask Gene if it could possibly be moved to Thursday, he told me it had been moved to 11am because Julia was going to be there.  The (possible) good news is that we might be discussing time off for Mom's visit.  The bad news is that we have a meeting with Julia on Ian's birthday.  No matter the general outcome of those meetings, it's always stressful, long and disheartening.  Hopefully, she gives us time to eat lunch before classes begin.

*This just in (via text)- Our meeting has been moved to Friday.  Thank you, Gene!*

Julia was at Sinback all day today.  She didn't say much to me, but her proximity makes me nauseous.  David showed up later and paced around outside my classroom.  That seems to be his specialty.

On the last post, Mom wondered about our interactions with locals.  Honestly, we have very few personal encounters with them.  Our hours keep us from random meetings and on the weekends we're usually pretty self contained.  That said, our interactions usually fall into one of three categories:  1) parental 2) condescending/correctional, or 3) overzealous servitude. 

Type 1 is, by far, the easiest to deal with.  Chun wha and her family fall into this category.  While we love how amazing and kind they are to us, it gets a little tiring because we're not seen as adults.  Twenty-somethings are pretty immature here, so no one really expects us to have opinions or needs.  That makes being an employee pretty difficult. 

Strangely, type 2 usually comes from strangers.  A couple good examples of this are the gym owner warning us not to run and Ian's special neighborhood friend thinking we were packing the Halloween candy for our lunch.  These people mean us well, but they think we're completely mentally deficient and devoid of life skills.  Julia is somewhere between 1 and 2.

Type 3 most often happens to me at the local bakeries.  I cannot purchase something without getting something for free.  It doesn't matter when I come in or who is working.  They ooh and aah, ask me to wait while they package something random up, give it to me and refuse my money.  It's very sweet, but totally awkward.  I've observed Korean patrons and they don't seem to be served with the same fervor.  This is the type of behavior that makes many Western travelers say "Asian people are so friendly and willing to help."  That statement isn't wrong, we just see it a little differently now that we've lived here.

I hate to generalize an entire population but, as they are a very small, homogeneous society that craves conformity, it's easy to put people in boxes.  I hardly know any of the people we work with.  Even Chun wha's thoughts on life are a complete mystery to me.  The only real exception to this is Gene, and he's very atypical.  I know that the language barrier plays a part, but it's much bigger than that.

Tomorrow, Ian will take picture at Goam so that you can see the changes happening there.

Good night!

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