Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A Dream Unfolds

I received a beautiful gift today -- one that is both thoughtful, and so unexpected.

Two of my colleagues, (one, a Korean language teacher, and the other, a math teacher), had been working together on this gift for a few weeks now, without my knowledge.

This morning, the two of them walked into my classroom and presented me with a bright yellow enevelope and a black pouch. I wasn't sure what was going on, or what the customs were in terms of receiving and opening gifts, so I simply said 'Thank You' and placed the envelope on my table. They insisted that I open it at that very moment, because they said they had instructions for me.

Still feeling those nervous butterflies dancing in the pit of my stomach (the ones that surface everytime someone says they have a surprise for me), I slowly opened the envelope. It revealed a paper with some Chinese, Korean and English words printed on it. I was confused. They then asked me to open the pouch, which contained my very own Korean “dojang” 도장 (aka Korean Seal).

Mrs S and C had been working on this gift with a lot of attention. For days, they looked over my name in English, focusing on the characters, letters and sounds, while trying to synch them with similar sounds in Korean and Chinese characters. I remember Mrs. C had approached me not too long ago, and had asked me to spell out my name in English. I wasn't sure what it was for, but I did it anyway, without much thought.

I guess this was the final result.

It seems everyone in Korean has their own dojang stamp, and it has more value than a signature made by pen. If someone were to steal your dojang and use it as their own, it would be considered identity theft. Although, they do need to be registered in order to be considered legal.

"If you want to buy a car or house, you need a dojang, otherwise it's not valid," said Mrs S, while we sipped on our post-lunch coffee. "I gave my daughter one for her 10th birthday."

I always wondered what the seals around the sign-in table were about.

Anyway, after just completing three months at my school, and in Korea, this was such a welcoming present.

Now, the meaning they came up with. They played around with my name a little bit, because they said they wanted it to reflect my personality, and their wishes for me. They blended in Chinese characters with Korean to get "SI MONG".

The paper in the yellow envelope read as follows:

[SI - pronounced "SHE"] UNFOLD


"A Dream Unfolds!"

Yes, it included the exclaimation mark. I think this has to be one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. After they instructed me on how and when to use it, they said they were thankful to have met me, and offered up some wonderful wishes.... all unexpected. Even now, six hours later, I'm still reeling.

This country never ceases to surprise me.


1 comment:

  1. so beautiful!! that's amazing Simone! but not hard to believe, as you are wonderful!



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