Hi all, I hope things are going well. I wanted to write a post today about how completely floored I am that a people as kind as Koreans exist.
You remember that post I wrote about that constant scowl I carry to ward off strangers? Well, that seemed to have vanished on its own. From greeting all of the teachers every morning to saying “hi!” to every student that enthusiastically calls my name in the hallways, the amount of time I now spend smiling has already outweighed the whole amount I did last year. Seriously.
You remember my ahjumma story, right? Well the kindness hasn’t stopped there, and it’s still only been a few weeks. Today I came back from the bank, where an extremely helpful bank teller has been helping me with the difficulties of banking as a foreigner. He doesn’t speak English too well, I don’t speak Korean too well, but somehow we’ve met in between. I had a problem withdrawing money today so talking in broken Korean, miming at times, he patiently listened, furrowed his brows, sometimes laughed, and eventually figured out what I needed. At banks here, they give you water or coffee as you wait, and he got up abruptly to get me some when I told him I didn’t have lunch yet. We talked a little about chuseok plans and at the end of the trip he said to come back again soon, to which I replied 당연하죠! (of course! ^^)
One day my class had a field trip to the downtown area of Daegu where we painted book shelf/stand things. It was a little too big to fit in a backpack so I carried mine home in my arms. On the subway, I chose to stand because all the seats were full, and suddenly an old woman snatched it out of my hand! WHAT? But then I remembered that sometimes this happens – a seated stranger will sometimes offer to carry your things if you end up standing on the subway. Nice, huh? I bowed and thanked her, when behind me an elderly man asked me, “where are you from?” I replied in Korean and had a short conversation. When a seat opened up, I offered it to another elderly person standing up, and the good feels practically filled the entire subway car. I made sure to thank the old woman who helped me carry the book stand and she smiled for daysss. And as I got off on my stop, I got a “very beautipul” from the elderly man ;__: <3
I’ve also ventured to have small conversations with local shopkeepers, who are always super impressed by my rudimentary Korean XD I will say that people here really appreciate when you try to communicate with them, if even in English. And it isn’t just confined to words, even a smile or a bow can communicate so much. I will say that my time here so far hasn’t been easy, and sometimes the staring eyes of people on the sidewalk get me, but thinking about successful cultural exchanges like these have helped me a lot. In all, I am grateful that I’ve been welcomed here by such kind people to teach, and I want to try my best for them, even if it means giving up a seat or smiling through a rough day. So far it’s yielded amazing results.