On Saturday (July 23rd, 2016) all the kids on my program participated in a culture exchange camp of sorts between American and Korean teenagers. The American teens present were Nsliyians on the Seoul Program while the Korean teenagers were from all over the country. They had to go to similar lengths to have this opportunity by filling out an application with essays.
On Friday we were told by our resident directors to meet at one of the exits of Hongik University Subway Station wearing our Nsli-y Korea shirts given to us by Better World. (The program taking care of all of our in-country needs and activities.) Luckily, I lived very close to the station so I didn’t have to wake up as early as many of the other Nsliyians had to in order to get there at the right time. Our resident directors took us to a convenience store for some snacks and drinks before showing us the way to where the camp was being held. It took quite a few elevator trips for all 49 Seoul Nsliyians to make their way up into the room and when I finally entered, we were greeted by some Better World Staff and directed to a long table with Paris Baguette pastries and an assortment of drinks. While we grabbed our treats, we got the chance to talk to some of the supporters who were helping run the camp smoothly. Eventually, I found a place to sit down next to Sofia only to be surprised to see my supporter Sujin.
We were all given name cards with our name in English and in Hangul (Korean Writing) with a person or animal on the back. I was a kangaroo (캥거루). Unfortunately, my animal did not match my supporters so I was definitely not in her group. I was upset at first and then happy since I would have the opportunity to interact with a different supporter.
The camp started off with a few words from our resident director JT and some of the Better World Staff before we started with some fun activities.
Our first game/icebreaker was to get us up and moving and especially have us move away from our cliques. Most of the Korean teenagers didn’t know each other since they came from all over Korea but all the Nsliyians, at first, stuck together like glue. We played a human chain version of the classic rock paper scissors. I don’t think I need to explain how to play rock paper scissors but I will explain the chain portion of the game. So when you played against one person and you won, the other person would have to go behind you and hold onto your shoulders. Everytime you beat someone, they would hold onto the shoulders of the last person connected to you creating a long human chain if you are very good. I started off by playing Sofia and beating her. We kept going around playing rock paper scissors with Nsliyians and Korean teenagers. Soon enough I found myself beating people with very long chains which made my chain get longer and longer. Eventually, I was one of two human chains left. The pressure was high and I really wanted to win for everyone in my chain but unfortunately, I lost to the Korean girl in charge of her human chain. Even though I lost, I ran in and congratulated the girl.
Our next game was this quiz with some random yes or no and true or false questions about a lot of topics. We got questions about animals, countries, Korean, and random fun facts. We would go to one side of the room for yes or true and then the other side of the room was for the answers of no and false. The best moment of the game was when we got a true or false question regarding whether or not an orange has more vitamin C than strawberries. I went to the false side of the room because I learned in my food prep class that strawberries were richer in vitamin C. A Nsliyian on my program and apart of my class 나무반 was asked why he thought the answer was true and he literally said “I am 100% positive that oranges have more vitamin c than strawberries.” It was hilarious because when they revealed the answer, everyone screamed and laughed. For the rest of the summer I joked around with that NSLI-Y student during class. It was such a fun game solely for the funny inside joke I got out of it. The winner of the game was a three way tie between two Korean girls and a girl named Sarah on the Nsli-y program.
Our next icebreaker was a human bingo where we had a sheet of paper with characteristics like “I love shopping” and “I can’t eat spicy food.” We had to walk around and talk to Korean teens and get them to sign our paper when they matched one of the characteristics on the sheet. This game reminded me a lot of these type of games I would do on the first day of school.
After our sheets were filled up, we played this game that needed extensive instructions from JT. We all had to congregate in groups according to the animal/person on the back of our name cards WITHOUT using words. We could only use actions. I found one other Korean girl who was a Kangaroo and then we just jumped up and down until others came and found us. The point of the game was to get these onion ring chips from the beginning of the line to the end of the line. The trick was you couldn’t use your hands. You could only pass the chips using straws that had to be kept in your mouth. It was pretty difficult but after awhile we got used to the straws and were able to get faster and faster.
After our chip game, we went back to our groups and just spent awhile getting to know everyone in our groups by answering questions such as “What are your hobbies?” and “What is your favorite Korean food?” (and eating M&Ms while talking).
We also played this cute little icebreaker where we had to stand up and massage the shoulders of the person in front of us while counting. It’s going to be hard to explain but I will try. We had to the massage the shoulders of the person in front of us while counting to ten. Then we would turn around and massage the shoulders of the person who was originally behind us for 10 seconds. Then, we would do the same thing again but for 9 seconds on both sides and then 8, 7 , 6, etc. Everyone in the group had to sit down once the counting went down to one. It was very fun and my group actually stayed in first place for a while but ultimately we came in second while another team was .5 seconds faster.
Once all our icebreakers were done, we were told the cultural activities we would be doing with our groups. My team ended up getting Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥 마을) which I had been to earlier that week with Sofia and Anna-Kate. At first I was kinda disappointed that I was going to a place I had already been to (If you haven’t read that blog post, it is right here) but it ended up turning out to be super fun! I had a blast with all the kids in my group and we had the opportunity to wear Hanbok (한복 – Traditional Korean dress) which I hadn’t done yet. We also got the chance to watch this really fun and exciting Taekwondo performance but more on that later! XD
We all walked around the Korean traditional village taking lots of pictures and just talking with all the Korean teens and getting to hang out more with Nsli-y scholars I hadn’t been able to hang out with often.
The whole reason we got into groups and visited a cultural site was to make a short video showcasing what the place had to offer. For our video, our group would be taking advantage of the hanboks and dressing up in them and bowing for the camera. Better World edited all the video clips together from all of the groups and made a huge Hanmi Camp video and I will link that video right here if anyone wants to take a look. Our part of the group starts at 3:52!
We went inside one of the traditional houses after taking off our shoes and got to pick out the hanbok we wanted to wear out of maybe 50 options. They had limited options for some of the bigger girls but they were still able to accommodate for them and they didn’t go without wearing a Hanbok. They also had versions that were smaller made for the short and petite. The ladies in the house helped everyone put on their Hanboks and gave us traditional accessories to put in our hair to pull the entire look together.
In our video we did a bowing ceremony with everyone wearing Hanbok which can be seen in the video I linked in this blog post earlier. After we finished filming the video clip, we each got our own photos taken in our Hanbok in this pretty room.
When we came back from our cultural excursions, we were given some downtime and lemonade to chill and relax until everyone got back since we were (and so were some other people) early. Once everyone arrived, we began to make posters showing what we did and what we had learned from visiting Namsan Hanok Village.
We then had to present what we had done and learned on stage for the rest of the groups. I presented it in English while one of the Korean girls in my group did the translating in Korean.
Hanmi Camp came to an end as we all said goodbye, took some last minute selfies together, and took a group photo with all the Korean teens, Nsli-y teens, supporters, and Better World Staff.
The Hanmi camp was honestly such a fun experience since I had the opportunity to make friends with some Korean teenagers. Since we don’t go to Korean high school during the summer program, it is hard to make friends with Korean teens unless you have a host sibling that is a teen and they introduce you to their friends as well. It was fun being able to talk to them especially when we had conversations in Korean and they were surprised I understood them so often. The day was filled with laughter more often than it was filled with awkward silences and that is proof how much fun this was and how we were able to break cultural barriers. I had such a fun time and I believe the Hanmi camp was definitely a highlight of this program.
After the Hanmi camp, Sofia, Angie and I wanted to get some dinner since we were starving. I already told my host family that I would be gone the whole day so I wasn’t expecting any food when I would come home. We decided to go to Kyochon Chicken since Sofia and I loved going there the first time (read about it here). We ordered the same Honey Chicken set and we finished it all, it was just as delicious as the first time.
After dinner we went to sulbing for some Bingsu. We found another location of Sulbing in Hongdae which was really close to the chicken restaurant but unfortunately it was smaller and filled to the brim with people. We tried the second location that we usually ate at and was able to find a table for three which was perfect for us and our bingsu needs. We ordered the chocolate brownie bingsu and ate all of that as well~
And that was my lovely Saturday in Seoul! Do not forget to check back periodically for my posts or you can subscribe and an email will let you know everytime I post. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ 안녕
- 엠마 (Emma)