Thursday, May 27, 2010

Go Doosan!

A few years ago, if you had asked me what one does at a baseball game, I would have said, "Oh, you mean after you find your seats and before the seventh inning stretch?......Your guess is as good as mine. Really. I spend the time looking for the kiss cam. And wishing that A League of Their Own was real."

That was the old me.

I know that you might be hoping that I delve into a discussion about the subtle strategy of baseball and the beautiful simplicity....wait. No one would ever want that (except Uncle Bob, but I'll leave that to him...not saying your boring, but, uh, cough...yeah) I'm coming at you with something far more entertaining: large coordinated cheers.

Koreans have evolved far beyond the wave, and their number one accessory is the thunderstick. The crowd isn't just cheering for your run of the mill homerun, no sir-ee. They cheer for every at bat, every strike, every ball.*

The thundersticks are powerful. I wanted some...and for the cost of about $1.60, I had them. Unfortunately, I couldn't also purchase a working knowledge of Korean and a side of rhythm. After my single experience of a Korean baseball game, I have reached the unquestionable conclusion that the effective use of thundersticks requires the skills of what is known in the business as a "triple threat." One must be able to sing, dance, and act. Slapping two half full inflatables was not quite enough to cut it. I did do enough to earn a team spirit award though, seeing as I managed to make it though a few innings without inadvertenly smacking someone in the face.

*Chin-Hwa has just informed me that Americans cheer for everything, too, but I must have blocked this from my memories of baseball games of yesteryear. I usually block EXTREMELY BORING things, and baseball would be among them.*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Korean Holidays

Children's day was every bit of craziness I had imagined. (It has taken me weeks to get over the shock to write this post....okay, I was just lazy. But the first story is much better, so I am sticking to that!) I walked around the streets of a nearby neighborhood with some friends and we found a Children's day festival. The festival had food, rides, dance performances, and many, many people. It was like a mosh pit at a concert at the Ranch Bowl, but filled with kids wearing nametags and parents trying not to lose said kids. I've included one picture to give you an idea, but it doesn't quite capture the number of people present. Plus, there is an old man in the front. Just ignore him.

The highlight was running into a few of my students, who looked at me in such a way as to indicate that they had no idea that I had a life outside of school. The fact that I was with other Americans really made their heads spin. Most of them gave me a quick hello and goodbye and ran off to continue to enjoy their days. One of them bought me a Fanta. He was particularly brave.

Since Children's day, we have also celebrated Parents' day and Teacher's day. Guess which one was my favorite?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Children's Day

Although many of you think of May 5th as Cinco de Mayo, for the children of Korea, this day is something much greater: Children's Day.

What is Children's Day? I'm not quite sure yet, as tomorrow will be my first experience of the holiday. However, it seems like it is a day when all Korean children are spoiled rotten. Is anyone really surprised? I mean, look at Ji-Bin and Eun-Bin's faces above. Could you say no? I know I sure couldn't. What's that, Ji-Bin? You want my most prized possessions? Well, it is Children's sure. Take it and run, kid.

They don't go to school; they are showered with presents; their parents take the day off so they can celebrate by going to amusement parks and other places of childhood dreams; they've been counting the days for months.

I'm prepared for complete insanity. I have the day off, since the children are freed from school, and I almost want to wander around just to see if it is as crazy as I have imagined. I'm picturing kids running and screaming through the streets, covered in cotton candy remnants and wild-eyed from the pounds of sugar they have consumed. I'm visualizing the parks becoming a mob of kids fighting over single swings as their parents try to seperate them out. I'm seeing a rise in sales of Nintendo products at Lotte Mart. I'm prepared for the worst.

A few friends and I are going to brave the storm and go to lunch. If I make it back in one piece, I'll give you all a full report. If not, at least I will go down surrounded by giant clouds of joy.