어린 시절의 추억들 (Childhood Memories)

For week 3 of my internship, I approached my cultural exploration in South Korea from a different perspective: examining what makes a person who they are. This starts from their childhood experiences, whether good or bad, which set them on a path to who they will become in the future. Taking classes on Korean culture and society during my semester abroad taught me more about the typical Korean student lifestyle and how much time they dedicate to working towards getting employed after college. Some students spend up to 14 hours a day studying and preparing for the one test that will determine their future, the CSAT or 수능 (suneung). Therefore, hosting an event like the flash mob surprise event called 스쿨 어택 (School Attack) opened my eyes to how much these students appreciate any distraction from their daily routine of studying. This event, hosted by my internship organization, 부산국제코미디페스티벌 (Busan International Comedy Festival), as a teaser for the upcoming festival, consisted of going to a local middle school and high school and surprising the students with an event where they would be able to participate, receive prizes, and watch performances. Being able to experience this from the perspective of the organizers, I gained a greater appreciation for the time and effort it took to put together all the events I experienced while in primary and secondary school.

The day of the event, I was required to be at the office by 8 AM, an hour earlier than normal. Then, by 8:30 we gathered our necessary items and headed to the first location, a middle school near Busan Train Station. Here, we set up the mics, took inventory of the souvenirs, and prepared everything for the event that began at 11 AM. Our roles were assigned, and I was in charge of handing out the fans to the students and taking pictures of both their reactions and the activities on stage. I was surprised by the excitement of the students when they found out they their school was picked for this event. Not only were they happy for the break from school, they were also extremely excited when they found out that the MC was 조재원 (Jo Jae Won), a YouTuber who is currently popular with the Korean youth. The first event held was the “칭찬 릴레이” or Compliment Relay, where a student is chosen to pick one teacher, student, or staff to compliment and explain why. Then the chosen student would pick another person. This was a touching activity and it showed how drastically different schools in America are from schools in Korea. The community seemed a lot closer in Korean schools and students seem to be acquainted with most of the other students at the school. Whereas in the States, I remember barely getting to know all the students within just my grade. After this activity was the “아무끼 대잔치” where students had the opportunity to come up on stage and show off their 끼 or special talent. These students either danced or sang and the students who came in 1st or 2nd received prize money. I was once again taken aback of how supportive the students were of each other and how they cheered each other on. The last event was a performance done by the 크로키키 브라더스 (Croquiky Brothers), a duo drawing circus. This performance was so much fun and through the reactions of the audience members, I saw how comedy could bring together people of all age groups. 

 

Middle School Event

We wrapped up this event, and moved to the next location, an all-girls high school that was on top of a large hill and had a view of the ocean. At this school, we went through the same process of setting up, handing out souvenirs, taking photos and video footage, and finally cleaning and wrapping up. However, slightly different from the middle school, I was surprised to see the girls wearing slippers and socks, some wrapped up in blankets, and others even bringing along a stuffed animal. This was one of the first times during my stay in Korea this year that I truly received culture shock. I was taken aback with how comfortable and homely the students felt at school, as this is extremely uncommon when growing up in the public school systems in America. Despite these initial appearances, the students brought a tremendous amount of energy to the performance and once again the event was completed without any problems. I had never thought I would find myself in another middle or high school gym attending a student assembly especially in a foreign country and this event made me nostalgic of my childhood. I really enjoyed being a part of this event as it was heartwarming and exciting for the students, the adult audience members, and the staff.

High school Event