So maybe the vaguely spiny leaves I had for lunch were not really thistles, but I needed some sort of a cool title, so... Anyway, there were tentacles involved, and they were pretty good if a little rubbery!
The real point here is the really cool ceremony I got to see on Saturday. It was a first birthday party. In Korea, these are done a little bit differently than in the United States. This birthday is when the totlet chooses a symbol of what they will become. The choices are between a pencil, a microphone, a stethoscope, a gavel, a computer mouse, and money (there may be a few other objects that I am forgetting). Before the ceremony, everyone puts a slip in the corresponding box to the item they think is most likely to be chosen by the baby. In this case, the baby chose the gavel (symbolizing law), so a few of the slips were drawn, and those people received gifts from the mother and father of the baby. Also, as is the case with many Korean special gatherings, lots of money was placed into various envelopes which were also given to the mother and father (who had spent a butt- load on the buffet, the venue, the flowers, the MC, their fancy hanboks for the whole family, and everything else). Basically, it was really awesome and I got to hang out with and play with kute Korean kids! I also got to see what life was like outside of Seoul. My host mother called it "the country". I think it was a lot more like the suburbs. Scratch that, it was more like the development of half of Seattle, which goes to show that maybe Koreans should not be looking so closely at "big brother US" in the way of advancements (except maybe the whole gay people are okay thing).
On the note of culture, I had to explain to a bunch of people about why my hair was braided and up for the ceremony, since that is apparently not very common. I also had to explain that I am black, since I'm not quite dark enough to be seen that way here and Koreans as a whole do not know that black people come in shades from all across the spectrum of shades of brown. Also, one of my host mother's cousins who spoke English came to speak with me. Unfortunately, when he asked where I was from and I said "Seattle" he just stared blankly before saying "Oh, Seattle" very unconvincingly. Everyone at the table thought it was funny, and he left looking embarrassed. He was cute, but not cute enough....
Everyday Acts of Activism