As you know, I've been teaching adults English at Masan City Hall two times a week for the previous three months. What you might not know is that it has easily been the most rewarding professional experience I've ever had. So when our class captain, "George", asked me to partake in a performance in front of his constituents and other second language learners, I gladly obliged.
What you might not know, because I hadn't posted the blog labelled "Testicle Festival" (available, as are 4 other never yet seen blogs, in my soon-to-be released "Some call me Waegook: The E-book addition"), is that this wasn't the first festival I've been a part during my stay in Korea.
A few Tuesday's back, the class said that they wanted to have a fun sketch in which they were going to preform a song. They asked if I knew of any American songs that would be easy to sing. My brain raced and the first three that came to mind were "American Pie", "Friends in Low Places", and of course, "Family Tradition". Though I figured no one had heard any of these songs, I sent out Mp3's (for educational purposes RIAA, relax) to each student to perhaps jog an aging memory. I mean, Koreans know "MacGyver" surely they've heard "American Pie". Nope, not even close.
After my suggestions for a song to performed were quickly vetoed, the class mentioned, voted and confirmed that they would sing a song that I had never heard before. This literally all went down within 20 seconds. My question to you is this. What song better typifies the west and the English language than ... "Let Me Be There" by Olivia Newton John? I honestly associate this Britain-born, Australian-raised singer-actress with tight spandex and jumping jacks way before anything Americana.
The performance went very well. If you didn't pick up on the Korean dialogue the first act is me asking directions from the Koreans, who by my presence were absolutely petrified (this isn't far off). The second act showed the very same Koreans after they took an English speaking class. As far as the song is concerned, many of the men in the back are reading the lyrics taped to the necks of the women standing in front of them! Boyyoung flawlessly performed her part and the chuckle from the crowd as I stood speaking in front of the mayor of Masan was due, I presume, to the fact that he doesn't speak a lick of English. Or perhaps I commited some type of Korean faux pass.
Our post-concert celebration was held off sight at a Korean restaurant. The beer and soju flowed like, well beer and sujo and the speeches came fast and furious. It's apparently tradition when a group of colleagues go out, that when sufficient booze has been imbibed, and the situation is right, the each person will take a turn to give a short speech. I ended up giving three because, well, I had a lot of appreciation I needed to express.
Tuesdays and Thursdays just won't be the same. I'm going to miss them!