Almost every elementary school in Korea has a staff volleyball team. They have practices, games, uniforms, and some even hire professional coaches. Schools schedule tournaments and let’s say things get competitive.
Over my two years in Korea, I was never once informed about a volleyball game/practice, so I usually end up wearing my work clothes and school slippers to practice. At this point, I don’t even care anymore. Such is life in Korea.
Since my current school placed last at tournaments for several consecutive years, our principal decided not to participate in them anymore. Rather, we would enjoy non-competitive volleyball games within the staff of the school. I much prefer this option.
Yesterday marked the first practice of the semester. It was the first day back from a five-day Chuseok weekend and of course, I was not informed about practice. I showed up in my dress and school slippers, the rest of the staff in exercise clothes and matching collared shirts.
First, we sat in a circle and munched on 팥빙수 (patbingsu), a Korean dessert with shaved ice, sweet milk, red beans, and rice cakes. Although it looks unappetizing once mixed and everyone’s spoons contaminating the shared pot, it is still quite delicious. After dessert, it took me by surprise that four boxes of pizza were plopped in the middle of our circle. The fifth grade teacher literally threw packets of hot sauce across the group and opened the service pickles. The teachers munched on the hot chicken and corn pizza, washing it down with small cups of Coke. After sitting around and chatting for what seemed like an hour, it was time to play volleyball.
We got up from the floor, did some personal stretching, and got to work. A ball was given to a few of us and we formed a circle. We were instructed to practice tossing the ball. A bump here, a set there. The sixth grade teacher snapped photos of us with his cellphone. After literally one minute of tossing the ball, he said we are finished. Everyone immediately stopped what they were doing and nonchalantly walked out of the gym and back to their classrooms.
Happy Sports Day?