Thursday, July 4, 2013

July Fourth

Cookies and sparklers!
July 4th didn't happen last year, at least for the eighty of us Fulbrighters. Our plane left Los Angeles on the evening of the third and arrived in Seoul on the fifth. Crossing the International Date Line going west caused us to lose a day, and that day happened to be Independence Day.

My family's usual July 4th tradition is a backyard barbecue at my cousin's place, the one with the swimming pool. Even though I call it a tradition, I realized today from looking back through my Facebook timeline that I haven't celebrated the holiday with my family in many years. In fact, I have not even been in the United States for Independence Day since 2009. That was four years ago. I feel mighty unpatriotic. Ha!
Hanna and Traylor roll out dough with... jars of Skippy. Ha!
This year, I decided to use the holiday as an excuse to give back to my school community. Although I'm not very close with all the teachers, I wanted to show my appreciation for their having taken care of me, given me rides to school, and shown willingness to converse in English, even though it's difficult for most of them. So, yesterday evening, I invited myself over to my friends' place and we had a cookie-baking party! (My homestay does not have an oven.)
Three and a half hours of mixing, cookie-cutting, decorating, and sneaking dough (and spoonfuls of peanut butter and Nutella) later, we had over a hundred cookies. We then ate them. We also lit sparklers! Indoors. Smart, right? One wayward spark burned the new linoleum floor, but it wasn't such a disaster. The cookies were really delicious, and I had a great time with Hannah, Traylor, Tiana, Amy, and Saerom.

Choco-chip, choco-dipped, sprinkles, and 똥 cookies (the Hershey Kiss ones)!
Then, I went to school this morning armed with two giant tupperware containers of cookies and left them in the main 교무실 (teachers' office/lounge) along with a note: 맛있게 드세요! (Eat a lot!) Happy American Independence Day! I also personally left some cookies for the vice principal and two teachers who have been exceptionally kind to me.

I don't mean to brag, but they were a hit. The teachers who were in the office when I left the cookies came over and wondered where they had come from. When I told them that I'd made them myself, they looked shocked. And they all ate quite a few each. When my co-teacher sent out a message to the staff inviting them to the office for cookies, she had to mention "양이 많지는 않으니 선착순..." which means, "There aren't a whole lot, so first come, first served."

Actually, here is the rest of her message; I'm reproducing it because it amuses me: 앤드류샘이 맛있는 쿠키를 구워 오셨습니다. 오늘이 바로 그 유명한 July, the fourth!라고 미국독립기념일이라. 인디언들에게는 슬펐을지 모르나 암튼 좋은 날입니다.^^ 직접 만들었다는데 맛이 좋습니다. 허나...

Translation: "Teacher Andrew brought some tasty cookies he baked, as today is the famous "July, the fourth!", or American Independence Day. Perhaps the Indians were sad, but anyway, it's a great day. [happy emoticon] He made them himself, so they're delicious. (But... first come, first served)"

I got several messages from teachers later, kindly thanking me for the cookies. Later, I intimated to my co-teacher that if there's enough money in the budget next semester, I'd like a convection oven for my apartment so that I can bake tons more cookies for everyone. If I could, I would totally be that guy.

Happy Fourth of July! 미국 독립 기념일 축하합니다! (Mi-guk Tongnip Kinyeom-il chukha-hamnida)

On that note, it has now been one year since I left the States to begin my Fulbright adventure in South Korea. Look, two blog posts from one year ago: July 4th and July 5th, 2012. My, how time flows like running water. (시간이 유수와 같이 빠르다!)

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