unforgettable encounters during an extended, yet brief time in korea...
routine encompassed going on a school trip every friday, bringing the kindergartens to either: a museum, play, trampoline or even a photographer's exhibit. One excursion to the latter involved checking out some retired Japanese guys photos from travels around the world. To accurately picture the scene, understand I was the only foreigner to accompany or be spotted on such trips. Though there would usually be many other schools present, it seemed other foreign teachers were either not invited or purposely excluded from such events. Consequently, I would receive the load of eyes, pointers, screamers, "you so handsome"'s, etc. But, on this occasion, it went beyond expectations. Upon our arrival, we were quickly assigned a tour guide, and they also designated another employee to be a translator for me, to explain photos in English. It became obvious this was only half her newly assigned role, when I observed her starting to take pictures of me at every opportune moment around the students. Whenever I would get in lens range of a student, she would become the red carpet paparazzi.(missed getting her in mine below). The icing on the cake was tasted when after taking in the full contents of mediocre shots of the eiffel tower and such, they asked me to take them back through the gallery and show them my favorite pictures and explain why. I noted their hesitation at the Niagra Falls frames, thinking I'd get patriotic and point at the obvious scene I've seen too many times over, instead electing to test their creativity, I pointed out some nice shots of "connie in venice" and simply stated the photo taken from a distance made her mystery intriguing. They laughed and wrote down every word of it.
(judy and sarah you are deeply missed)
while walking around shopping downtown Daejeon, I noticed out of the corner of my eye some lady running in my direction from an angle behind. Catching her shouting "hello", but not automatically assuming she was addressing me, I kept a pace. Eventually she caught up and was standing in front of me, out of breath, but excitedly re-stating "hello!". After I return the greeting, she just stares at me smiling, guilt weighs on that I should say more, but I don't know what to say (I mean in our culture when someone runs you down its because either you dropped or stole something). She's scrambling, but has nothing to utter herself, instinctively she reaches into her shopping bag, looks around in there and pulls out a new pack of Halls and hands it to me. Obviously noting that she had a cold and it would do more good for her to keep the medicine, I politely declined. But, she insisted and wouldn't let up to the point where I realized it would be an insult if I didn't take them. So, I took her much needed Halls, she thanked me, and we went on with our days, me off to a mountain and her back to buy a new pack of Halls.
a unique event I learned to appreciate was strangers asking me to "get in their picture". This usually resulted in my agreeing to take their picture on the assumption of 'poor english', only to learn they meant what they said. They wanted a picture with me being the central figure in it. I began to turn the tables and indulge in this hobby myself, getting photos with random Koreans at all opportune moments.
strutting to school one day at lunch, I had just passed a convenience store when simultaneously an 8 year old came running out of the candy store, an ice cream cone firmly secured in each hand. As he peels onto the side street he notices my presence and without hesitation runs up smiling ear-to-ear and offers for me to take one. Returning the smile, I had to decline and watched as continued his original mission and gave the cone to his brother up ahead. In whose world do kids give away ice cream? No way in my hay day would the same proceedings have gone down, especially sharing with an adult, I would have eaten both cones.