Wednesday, October 16, 2013

House Guest Hash (not a recipe)

Background: If you haven't read the post Look Bad Taste Good, Seungmin and his parents Youn and Myeong adopted us as their American relatives shortly after they moved to the USA from Korea.

It's not unusual (for me) to have a house guest come for a weekend and stay two weeks. Or to have someone show up on our doorstep saying, "Hi! I'm friends with Lauren. I'm driving from Florida to Nashville, and she said that if I got too tired, you'd let me spend the night at your house." Jay has learned to not ask where I meet people, because often the answer is, "I met them on our front porch, just now."

Last summer, Myeong (my friend from Korea) stopped by, and we had the following, rather startling, conversation:

She: You know I have nephew?

Me: Didn't his parents move to Japan before he was born? Do they still live there? If he is a year older than Seungmin, he should be, what, fifteen now?

She: Yes, he always live in Japan. He turn fifteen. (Pause.) I ask favor.

Me (agreeably): Sure! What do you need?

She: Jihun get bad grade in English, so my sister send him to America for summer. I want you teach him.

Me (predictably): Sure, I'll tutor him! When he comes, we can figure out which days and times would work for lessons.

She: Not favor. I mean, yes, you tutor Jihun is favor, but I want different favor. 

Me (in generous ignorance): Sure. What else do you need?

She: He must stay with you to learn English. 

Me (confused): I guess he could hang out and do homework until you pick him up at night.

She (getting frustrated): No! Not like that thing. Favor is he stay with you.

Me: (articulately): Huh?

She: He stay with you.

Me (light dawning): Wait. You mean you want him to sleep at our house?

She (happily): Yes! He stay with you.

Me (taken aback): Oh. Okay. Um, I guess Seungmin and Jihun could share the guest room--they're cousins. Then you wouldn't have to do all that driving back and forth.

She: No. Only Jihun stay. If Seungmin not here, Jihun must speak English.

Me (alarmed): No, wait. He can't stay here without Seungmin to translate. The only Korean I know is "kimchi." The only Japanese I know is "teriyaki." Neither of which would help me communicate with a teenage boy if he's living here!

She (cheerfully): No, is okay. Is punishment for Jihun.

Me (snickering): Living here is a punishment? That's a new one. What in the world did you tell your sister about me?

She (satisfied): Yes. You are punishment. He stay with you. For one month.

Me: A month?

She: Yes. Maybe more.

Me: Maybe more?

 She: Maybe two month. He come Wednesday.

Me: This Wednesday?

She: And I bring him your house Thursday.

Me: This Thursday? 

Yes, y'all, we had less than a week's notice that a Korean teen who'd been raised in Japan was coming to live at our house for a month (maybe more) so I could teach him English. 

To punish him.

I found the whole situation wonderfully amusing and couldn't wait for Jay's reaction. He gave a long-suffering groan and told me that things like this do not happen to normal people; only to me.

Jihun arrived a couple of days later, looking completely miserable.
We didn't know if he could smile
Until our first English lesson.  

I handed him a box of brownie mix and told him to follow the directions.
This is English homework?
His punishment continued. I forced many cookie breaks during tutoring. 

Between lessons, he played with, I mean, worked with power tools while he helped Jay (and sometimes Seungmin) build the chicken coop. I called it "studying practical math and applied geometry."

He was compelled to attend culture training (baseball games), sweat through instruction in strategy techniques (board games), survive tactical education (paintball in the woods), and endure many other (unconventional) learning experiences.
He stayed two months, and then called his parents to say, "I don't want to come home. I want to stay in the USA." 

They were not pleased with me.

Apparently, as a punishment, I'm a complete failure. 

Verse of the day: (Ecclesiastes 12:12b-13) "...too much study wearies the body..." I totally agree. "Honor and respect God and keep His commandments for this is the duty of every person." 

For a previous Korean post, see "Look Bad, Taste Good."


  1. First of all, that is the biggest box of brownie mix I've ever laid eyes on! Secondly, it looks like Pamela is the only one taking "cookie break," but I won't judge because I know how exhausting it is to watch someone work! Thirdly, the smile on Jihun's face is wonderful! I know he was mightily blessed to stay with you. Good job, Pamela! (And Jay, too!)

    1. You're so funny! And too kind not to judge me. I offered him a cookie break, and he said, "After I finish work." CLEARLY he wasn't American. And clearly I wasn't disciplined enough to wait--I felt I needed a cookie break just for sitting there speaking English.

    2. Ha! And not just speaking English. ..trying to help a foreigner understand it! One time at a classical education seminar, we were partnered up with others to do a Latin exercise. My partner was a newly-arrived immigrant from Asia who didn't speak much English, and I was trying to help her understand Latin! I was exhausted after that! If I'd had any cookies with me, I would've had myself a cookie break too! :-)

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  3. Cute! After this public post, I suspect that you'll accumulate a substantial waiting list for boarding at the Nastase Hostel for Wayward Immigrant Adolescents. Jihun obviously learned the American art of box-brownie baking, but did he pass his next round of English exams?

    1. I love that name! NHWIA is a little awkward, though, so perhaps we could add another word as in "Nastase's AMAZING Hostel for Wayward Immigrant Adolescents: NAHWIA." And, yes, he did well in all his subjects because he did about six hours of homework a day (in Japan, they give them homework during their vacations--which, to me, negates the idea of "vacation.") He kept up beautifully, but I, sadly, was completely depleted after only two hours of English tutoring a day--which is why I so desperately needed him to make me, I mean, make US, brownies and cookies.

  4. Is there room for another student? My sister (*ahem*) pronounced the verdict that I am seriously deficient in my exact calculations of fractions of recipes. I believe I need some teaching in that area. ;-)


    1. I believe Jihun is now a cooking tutor. If you're willing to commute to Korea, I believe he'd be of great help to you. ;-)

  5. Replies
    1. High compliment, coming from the BEST. Next time we get together, you're going to have to do something crazy so I can blog about it.

  6. things like this do not happen to normal people; only to you!
    I LOVE it!