Banner design by Helena, portrait by Eva


Monday, November 27, 2006

Do Asians think all blonds look identical?

Friday is the start of a whole new term. It was sad to say goodbye to my students but many are returning to advance to a new level.

I was showered with gifts! I got a chandelier-like pair of earrings from a girl named Jenny and a tangerine from a student who says she has seen me around school and is "so excited" to have me as a teacher starting Friday. That girl earned herself an 'A'!

Charles, a 16 year old with a budding mustache, bought me a cup of Soya milk from the vending machine. I got a handmade origami bird from a little boy named Kevin, and cake from Paul- a student I named after my uncle Paul!

What happened to the good old fashioned APPLE?

I went out with Chung Lim Jang on Sunday night. I told him I wanted to go somewhere cheap so he led me towards a seafood restaurant beside my school.

We were at an intersection, waiting to cross, when Chung's eyes got big. "Your friend, your friend!" he shouted. He hasn't met any of my coworkers so I couldn't imagine who he meant by "my friend." I turned to see an Irish girl at my right, holding the hand of her light-haired boyfriend.

I haven't seen many whites since my arrival in Korea so it was also startling for me to see a couple more blonds in town. I stared for a moment, then turned to Chung. "You thought she was Camille?" I asked. My Canadian friend Camille has long black hair and lives 2 1/2 hours from Suwon!

I asked him why he assumed the girl was my friend. He said, because she looks exactly like you!" I glanced at her thinking, "does she??"

I have to admit that before I moved to Korea I coudn't distinguish between Chinese, Japanese or Koreans. Hwan warned me not to offend Asians by confusing their race. I certainly wouldn't want to call a Korean a Japanese!

Chung's eyes flicked between me and the other girl like she was my long lost twin! I think I saw his tonsils. The truth of it is I was a little insulted! The white skinned blonde experiences prejudice... no, racism! Okay, so it's a stretch.

Restaurant tale to come...

1 comment:

Norm said...

Hi Eva. I wish I had found this blog BEFORE my visit to South Korea...very cool. I was in Suwon from Jan. 14 - Jan. 26 on business. It was so weird having everyone staring at me all the time. I am an African American from Rochester, NY. As if that wasn't enough, I have light hazel eyes. The teenage girls would get all giggly when I passed them in Home Plus or on the street. It didn't bother me, but it was just a different experience.