Anyway, to make a very long and dramatic story as short as possible, most of you know that for weeks now, I’ve been working hard to finish the English newspaper at my school. I finally finished it, proof-read and error-checked it, and sent in the final file just before heading off to Jeju for my Fulbright conference. When I returned on Tuesday, I found that they had printed it….but not before making a few changes. Which wouldn’t have been a problem….except they didn’t proof-read it again before submitting it to the printers. And, amid the changes, one student’s name had accidentally been erased from the article that she wrote. This happened to be the front page article. It also happened to be same student who the exact same thing happened to last year. And that student also just happened to be my host sister, In-suk. Yeah. The plots thickens.
I figured it would be best that In-suk find out the bad news from me, so the next day at breakfast I told her about the problem. I didn’t really anticipate just how bad the news really was. She started bawling. You know the kind of crying that’s so hard that you’re gasping for air because you just can’t stop crying? Yeah, that’s what she was doing. So then my host mother called 3 of my co-teachers (and also left work in the middle of the day to come directly to the school and talk to them!), In-suk was still crying, and everyone at work was grumpy. All before 8:00 in the morning. Yeah. Really, really really bad start to my day.
Wednesday is also my longest day anyway – I teach 6 classes, don’t leave school until 7:00, and then lead Bible study at 8:00. Needless to say, it was a rough day. But then when I got home, everything had changed. My host mother greets me at the door asking how I am, apologizing for me having to deal with all of this stuff at work – she kept emphasizing those “선생님 나쁘다” (bad teachers). Now, on a good day, I really don’t think that my co-teachers are bad; but it was really nice to have an acknowledgement of my frustration. She even hugged me; the only other time she’s done that was when I left for America for Christmas.
Later in the evening, I tried on a new dress and showed it to them. They were ecstatic. They kept calling me “우리 로렌” (My Lauren), and saying how beautiful I was. I love my host family; but even so, I’ve never felt as close to them in the entire 6 months that I’ve lived with them as I did last night. I felt embraced, truly accepted as a member of their family.
Then, the next morning, host mama hugged me again. My host dad, in his sincerest Korean, apologized to me for the actions of “all Korean people” (모두 한국 사람). That was the only time throughout this entire ordeal that I teared up. I knew that I had not wronged anyone; but neither did I feel wronged by anyone – it was just a frustrating situation – and I was not expecting an apology. The fact that he gave one anyway really meant a lot. And In-suk even took the time to write me a letter! I had put a little note and present in her room when I got back the night before, knowing that she would need a pick-me-up after such a bad day, so the next morning she gave a gift in kind, and a letter. I’ve typed the letter out below:
To: 로렌 (Lauren)
I was very surprised for you! When I had come back home, I saw your message and present! Thank you. Yesterday morning was very terrible day. But I’m sorry that I don’t know well your frustrated mind for newspaper. Because of angry, I don’t care about your mind. One more time I’m sorry. And always thank you. I proud of you because you are my family. Forget the newspaper, and then we smile! Please, have a good sentiment every day.
I like your smiling. You are pretty when you smile. Always thank you. Despite of your tired, consider me. Thank you always. I love you! ~In-suk
“I’m proud of you because you are my family.” One of the goals of the Fulbright program is to foster cultural ambassadorship and exchange. But forget about learning Korean or making friends from all over the world or teaching my students the electric slide in dance class. That sentence right there is the one pocket of ‘cultural ambassadorship’ that I am far and above the most proud of. In-suk really and truly considers me her family. She loves me.
I didn’t want to mention all of the frustrations of yesterday morning. But then, I decided that it was worth it, because through telling you about them, I could then tell you just how big and wonderful my God is, how His love and grace surpass any bad stuff the world can throw at me. He took an awful situation, and turned it into a learning experience for me, and an opportunity to grow much closer to my entire host family. Praise the Lord! 🙂
If you want to see the infamous newspaper, I’ve uploaded pictures of it below :).