We arrived to the school at 9am. All the teachers were assembled in the largest of the classrooms. They all seemed to be quite young. They were probably only a couple of years out of university, some maybe just graduated. Mr Boyle and Mr Yun sat at the head of the assembled circle of tables, myself and herself happened to be facing them.
Mr Yun welcomed everyone to the first day of preparation for the new term, introduced both of us to the staff, and then asked that we all bow our heads and close our eyes for the morning prayer. It was unlike any prayer that we’d ever heard.
Mr Yun started off by thanking dear, beautiful Jesus (his exact words) for sending two blessings in the form of myself and herself. He then asked father God to help us find our way and to guide us for the school year. Dear blessed Jesus was also requested to guide us into his arms. Dear blessed Jesus would have some job achieving that. In fact, dear blessed Jesus would have been better served concentrating his efforts on preventing me from laughing.
The prayer continued for another ten excruciating minutes. Subtle digs were thrown at Mr Boyle’s health and weight issues, a lazy Math teacher was taken down, and a teacher who was absent was prayed for in an incredibly insincere fashion. Apparently Jesus was in charge of school discipline, staff welfare and performance reviews. In a nutshell, JC was the head of HR. Maybe I could have a quiet word with him about my employment contract…
The prayer finally finished with a communal amen. I said “Eamonn”, a bad habit I’d picked up from being forced to go to mass in secondary school. Nobody noticed.
Mr Yun then asked us to take out our bibles.
I turned to herself in absolute fucking shock horror. Nobody had asked us to bring a bible! I didn’t own a fucking bible. The only book I had on me at that time was a collection of short stories by Philip K Dick that I’d brought with me from home. I was beginning to think that I was a character in one of them.
This was going to be a tricky situation. I looked around the room. Some of the younger teachers were reading the eBook version on their smartphones. Everyone else was reading out of these magnificent leather bound volumes
Mr Boyle read out the passage in his gentle southern drawl. Myself and herself gave each other nervous glances. How would we approach this? We’d yet to discover an English language bookshop since our arrival. There was probably one in Itaewon, but would they have a bible? I panicked slightly. Maybe the school had a spare one somewhere that we could share. I wasn’t going to fork out cash for two copies of a book that I’d no interest in reading.
The passage ended and Mr Yun asked us all to go in peace and have a blessed and productive day. Myself and herself were asked to stay behind for a brief chat.
And so began the most insane, wacky conversation that I have ever been a party to.
Ah lads, I hate to end on a cliff-hanger, but this conversation requires its own dedicated post.
Next time: Get away ta fuck!