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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

May I be excused?

Lunchtime in Korea is very different from lunchtime in America!  For starters, everyone eats the exact same thing!  Secondly, there's NO teachers lounge!  Instead, teachers sit at a table right smack dab in the middle of the kids in the cafeteria!  For all you visual people out there, this is my school's cafeteria!

Thirdly, where people sit at the table is a big deal.  In America, the host at a dinner party, or special employee usually sits "at the head of the table!"  Right?  Well, not in Korea!  The highest ranked employees (ie: Principal, Vice Principal, and/or Head Teacher) all sit in the middle of the table.  I, for whatever reason, have been asked to sit beside the Principal everyday.  I think this is their way of showing (non verbally) how much they appreciate/respect me.  I'm honored. :)

Fourthly, when you're finished with your meal, you can't just get up and leave the table.  I'm not talking about students here!  I'm talking about teachers!  We have to wait for either the oldest person, or the highest ranked employee, at the table, to stand up.  Then, and only then, can we get up from the table!  So, today, for instance, I finished my lunch by 12:15pm, but had to wait until close to 12:30pm for the Principal to stop talking, finish eating, and stand up!  This gets really annoying sometimes!

Now you think that's bad?  The kids have it a little worse, but in a different way!  They are not allowed to leave their table until they have eaten everything on their tray... EVERYTHING!  When they're done, they walk up to their teacher, or their classroom leader, hold their tray in front of him or her and wait for the approval.  If there is some soup left, or a vegetable uneaten they are told to sit back down until they finish!

Just another little cultural tidbit to help you live a day in my life! :) 

Happy eating! 

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