How many people do you know who have been to Seoul, South Korea? Is the number south of one? Or is it one because you know me? Well, about eleven months ago before I committed to teaching at Shinjin I didn't know anyone who had ever been here. Heck, it was difficult to find anyone who knew anything about Seoul besides that the Olympics were there in a year everyone seemed to forget. Now, amazingly, I think of Korea as a second home, my best friend has been here and loved it, and the latest astonishing visit came from my parents.
I couldn't believe it when I read the email saying that they were going to come. Sometimes people refer to me as an "All American boy" and they're surprised when I do anything outside of playing football, listening to rock and roll, and eating hot dogs, but in comparison to the background of my parents I look like a Gen-X'er. The idea of my parents walking the busy streets of Seoul, getting relentlessly bumped into, trying to order off a menu they can't read, and, to cap it off, staying in my apartment for a week honestly scared me a bit (to say the least). It's been a while since I lived with my parents and even then, we didn't share the same bathroom (that could or could not smell like raw sewage any day of the week). If anything went wrong in the five days they were here in Seoul, I thought it would be easy for things to go really downhill, fast. But just like people underestimated me, I underestimated my parents.
Their week in Korea was a whirlwind of things happening. The morning after they got in we all woke up and gathered around my computer to listen to the Giants beat the Packers in overtime on the radio, and that set the tone for the whole week. Palaces, dinners with friends, lunches with my principal, temples, museums, malls, the DMZ and even an aquarium later and we had made it to the finish. The whole week went off without a hitch, but that's no way to describe it. Everyone loved them, and they loved everyone they met. I got to see some new things, and they got to eat some new things. It went better than I could have possibly expected it to go.
As we walked toward the airport bus I felt like cheering as if the Giants were winning all over again. A week of close quarters living, and 24/7 contact while being a full time tour guide for my parents in a country where I didn't speak the language was over, and it would be a week we would both remember with smiles for the rest of our lives. What a success, but I didn't cheer, I stayed calm and got my rest. Korea was just like the NFC Championship game, it wasn't what they came for, the trip wasn't over, far from it. The Super Bowl for them was China. The People's Republic of China, the land of well over one billion people who don't speak our language, eat our food, or know anything about football, rock and roll, or hot dogs, and there was still one more week for everything to go wrong. But would it?
Check out the great pictures from my parents trip to Korea, and I'll have the rest of the trip to China up soon.