Retirement Korean Style, part 2 and a New Principal

August 31st was the extremely last day for the old principal (which sadly I was never told her name, so I have no clue what it is, oops). At the end of the work day, everyone came into to my office to hear her final, final words and say goodbye. Then everyone lined up outside of the front doors of the school, like a backwards receiving line, instead of the guest of honor standing still and the guests walking by, the teachers and staff stood in a straight line and the now former principal walked by shaking everyone’s hands as they bowed or hugged a lucky few. I was a lucky one and was hugged. Then we walked her to her car that another teacher drove to the front gates and waved to her as she awkwardly drove away.

Then on Tuesday, September 1st, the new principal came. I don’t think that anyone really knew what to expect. They had several garland stands with welcoming signs decorating the foyer and front doors and someone had bought a bouquet but there was a lot of confusion when to give it to him, eventually a sixth grader was selected to give it to him. He’s a middle aged man, who seems to not have met a rule or tradition that he didn’t like. I had an awkward meeting with him around lunchtime, he was surprised to see that I wasn’t white and I was just nervous. Since being in Korea, it’s really hard for me to decide what I should say or not, because it’s hard on the first meeting to guage the new person’s feelings about Americans, kyopos, and adoptees.

Later in the afternoon, one of my co-teachers (Ji-hye) dragged me to another meeting saying that she needed the moral support. Instead I lost a major amount of face in front of the new principal, because if I spoke in Korean and repeated what everyone else was saying, I would have to explain how I was from a village but didn’t speak perfect Korean, which then I would have to explain my adoption, and I still don’t know how he felt about things. All the while KYY was laughing and smirking about my losing face. But if I spoke in English, I ran the risk of him feeling that I was slighting him like the male VP did at first. So one of my other co-teachers (Min-hee) said that I was embarrassed by the attention, unsure of what I should say, and a little embarrassed of my Korean, which is all partly true. So I had a private meeting with him, the male VP, and Min-hee, where he felt I needed to know that he prefered NSETs who are kyopo and that he would like to improve his English, so I was volunteered to have daily chitchats with him to help him improve his English and that he could help me be a better Korean speaker. Fun. Fun. Fun.

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