From the BK to the SK




About a month ago or so, I went shopping and out to dinner with my co-teacher and a Korean teacher at my school. (The Korean teacher understands English very well, because she explains a lot of what I say to other teachers who don’t understand, but she can’t speak as well.) So after dinner, she drops my co-teacher and me off at school. As we say bye, she asks my co-teacher something in Korean, and my co-teacher turns to me and asks if I want some grapes.

I was slightly confused as to what she was talking about. I told her sure, thinking that means we’re about to go grocery shopping (Korean bomb), but instead the Korean teacher got out of the car and opened the trunk.

There are about three boxes FILLED with Korean grapes. My co-teachers laughs and tells me, “She has many grapes!”

I start laughing and ask why she has so many grapes in the trunk of her car.

“Parents send them in for her with students.”

 “Wait, why did they send in all of these grapes?” I ask her as she hands me about five bunches.

My co-teacher laughs (Korean often laugh when they don’t know an answer to something), and tells me, “They just do.”

“So the parents just decided to all send her grapes on the same day?”

She laughs and nods her head, and so I just go with it. I’m thinking, Ok, that’s not really normal. I’ve heard of gifts for teachers before because I gave money all the time for teachers’ gifts when I was in school. But grapes? I just imagined one of two situations happening:

a.)    The PTA of her class sending out a flyer to the parents asking each student bring in grapes as a gift for her.

b.)   Literally, the parents jut all waking up one morning and somehow all deciding that they were going to send their children in with grapes that day as a gift for this teacher.

I had to laugh. So we go inside the school to grab something I forgot (another food gift from a different teacher), and the principal is in my office with another teacher. We bow and bow and bow as gracefully and apologetically as we can for disrupting their conversation, and suddenly the principal starts talking to my co-teacher. As I said, everything and anything he says always seems of grave importance to me in the way that he carefully chooses his words, talks with very steady hands and stops every so often to reflect on what he’s saying. My co-teacher is very serious in the way she answers, saying the word for yes over and over again. I’m thinking he hates us for interrupting him, and I’m on the verge of tears. She turns to me and says, “Ok, let’s go.”

I’m like “What did he say?! Are we in trouble?”

She looks at me and smiles. “He says you must wash the grapes very carefully and in just the right way. This is very important that you do that. You must take the proper care when handling them.”

What is the deal with grapes in Korea? Someone needs to fill me in on the status of grapes here.



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