It's a beautiful, warm and sunny day in Dongcheon-dong. Saturday, Cinco de Mayo, Children's Day. The flowers are in bloom, the temperature is perfect, the humidity is low, the yellow dust and pollen are in the air. Spring in Yongin-si.
Having just return from a Homebrew Beer Tasting and Cinco de Mayo get-together over at a park at Woomi (a neighboring apartment complex where a lot of "marrieds" and "singles-plus" live), I've decided to reflect on the saying that really got me excited about moving to Korea: "We work hard. We play hard."
It's a philosophy I've lived by (along with several others) for a few decades now. One of the things I enjoyed about my former school community was the work-hard play-hard mindset of my close circle of friends. How perfect was it to hear that I would encounter the same perspective here. And so I have.
Work hard? Yes. We all put a lot of time, energy, and effort into our lessons and our students' successes. I truly enjoy the creative energy at work and the collaboration that gets me up in the morning and helps me enjoy each day. Many (if not most) evenings are, in part, dedicated to correcting papers (author studies and comparative essays at the moment). But then there's the "play hard" part.
What does that look like? For me it goes something like this once a week swim laps in the morning with about 5 others who are crazy enough to be in a pool at 6:30 am, twice a week do training circuits with 8 - 12 other women in the fitness center, once a week do meditative yoga with 4 - 7 other women (candles and all), and sneak in some time to walk or bike with my husband or play frisbee or soccer outside with my kids. Then comes the weekend. Likely there is at least one gathering. It might be a night out for dinner at a Korean BBQ place, a hors d'oeuvres and drinks at someone's apartment, a neighborhood playground crawl with families, a baby shower or birthday party for someone, or a holiday to celebrate (like an Easter egg hunt or trick-or-treating). Last weekend we attended the school musical "Little Shop of Horrors" twice!
This weekend we were at a colleagues apartment for snacks and margueritas on Friday night, then off to Saturday Morning Baseball for Alec and swimming for me and Anna at the same time, then home long enough to prepare beer bread and salsa for the Cinco de Mayo get-together. The surprise treat was that since it was Children's Day, the PTO had free food and a give for the kids after baseball and family swim. At Woomi's Cinco de Mayo a wonderful cross section of the staff came, representative of grade school through high school, teachers, staff, and admin. Adults and kids (including the baby twins!) What a perfect day for it, too.
Tomorrow (Sunday) I will be going on a field trip of sorts with a group of women from our school to the House of Sharing, a non-profit organization that houses and helps Korean Comfort Women who were sex slaves to the Japanese during WWII and who are now in their 80's. We have raised funds for them and now we're going to visit and learn more about their organization and what they do. (See the next post for more.)
And that is how we are working hard and playing hard here in Korea!
Life is good.