Thursday, November 02, 2006

Festival at Dongbu

Today at my Thursday school, they had another day of a multi-day festival. I did and saw half a dozen things that I have never done nor seen at a school before. Below is a pic of me with the head teacher at Dongbu. He has a deep bass voice that thunders through the halls when he makes announcements and has always seemed to take an interest in me. I always figuratively looked up to him so I didn't realize how much bigger I was than him.

I felt really out of place because I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing. I knew I had a part in the afternoon, but till then I was clueless. The morning was devoted to sports competitions. The entire school was divided into red and blue teams with each side wearing a jersey vest over their clothes. There were some familiar favorites among the sports and a few that were a blast, but would never be found in American schools.

The first surprising thing I saw was a massive game of "chicken". the boys gathered in "united." Each unit was composed of four boys. One boy sat on the shoulders of two other boys, then his legs were held by a fourth boy. These boy units went around field trying to grab baseball hats off each other. When the whistle was blown, the boys in each unit moved as if they were one. It got pretty physical as each boy tried to grab the hat of the opposite team while keeping his own hat on. I could imagine one of these boys tripping and the whole bunch falling and breaking arms and dislocating shoulders. Luckily, there were no injuries.

The second surprising game was a strange race I saw where students ran across the backs of other students. Each team made a long line with students bent over. Two students on either side of the lines, helped the runner stayed balanced and he or she ran across the students. After the runner passed over the backs of the first students, those students would run to the end of the line. Again, I was surprised that no students were hurt.

The third surprise was all the squid. It must be squid season because today I had no less than four different kinds of squid: roasted squid jerky strips, spicy squid salad, bite-sized boiled squids, and a vinegar squid salad. I was also offered raw squid but I passed. The bite-sized squid were interesting--there was a surprising crunch.

My fourth surprise was the cup of beer I had at lunch--in the cafeteria. Alcohol often has been served in afterschool events, such as after volleyball matches. I'll tell you what, after getting sweaty, my idea of a refreshing drink is not soju (Korean liquor). This was the only time I've even been served during school, in the cafeteria. The experience was more of a social hierarchy thing. The PE teacher, who had been trying his hardest to interact with me--despite the fact that we don't speak each other's language--practically tripped over himself to pour my some beer so he could toast me.

My fifth surprise was at the talent show. The entire school assembled across the street at the gym that is shared with Dongbu Elementary School. They brought in a production company with sound, special effects, and an emcee. As I sat waiting for the show to begin, I got antsy, so I decided to go backstage to talk with the students. I found that all of my freshman students were dressed in drag. They were all in dresses with fake busts, lipstick, and wigs. Some of them were pretty convincing too. For the talent show, they were doing a fake beauty contest. It turned out to be really funny.

The final surprise for the day was the last act I got to see before leaving. My freshman guys got changed out of drag. I was backstage talking to them since I didn't understand a word of the Korean songs and skits that were on stage. I saw them preparing props and things, but wasn't sure what they were up to. What I saw completely floored me. They were doing Jackass-like stunts. There are about twelve guys in the class. They gathered in a semi-circle on stage and started breaking boards over their heads. They wrapped one student's head in duct tape before tearing off. Two students stuck latex gloves over their entire heads.

The most surprising stunt of the act was when they got out the lighters. One student opened up a bottle of "health drink." The Korean get these out at special occasions. They are basically sugar, alcohol, and special extracts--the most common is a vitamin c drink. Well, I didn't know how much alcohol was actually in the drinks until a students put some in his mouth, and then sprayed it into the lighter flame. The spray lit on fire! I was surprised not only that over-the-counter health drink was so flammable, but also the school was letting these kids do it on stage!

Below is a pic of me at some of the teaches at Dongbu.

1 comment:

  1. i like the pics of you and your friends. keep up the posting...



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