Oh my gosh, we seriously had so much fun today! I've been dying to get home and blog about it!
Last week the grandma of one of the kids at our taekwondo studio gave us a flyer for a Korean cultural event that was happening today. There is an organization called the Idaho Korean Association (IKA) that does events every now and then. That is great news to me because I have been searching high and low for Korean cultural activities in Boise and they've been extremely hard to find. The Korean population here isn't huge and because there's not an adoption agency in Idaho that handles Korean adoptions there are very few Korean adoptees here either. Taekwondo has been almost the only Korean cultural activity I've managed to find.
So getting that flier was like finding treasure and I was REALLY excited about it. The flier said that there would be some cultural activities open to the public from noon to three and then an invitation only dinner at five. This was the first I heard about the IKA and I was super interested in being a part it so that I could be informed of future events so I e-mailed the address on the flier and explained who we are. I got an e-mail back letting me know that the dinner was full and it was too late to sign up but that we were welcome to come to the activities durning the day. That was fine and I've been looking forward to it for days.
Then first thing this morning I got a phone call from the head of the IKA and he said that he had managed to find us a spot at the dinner!! Yay! It was really nice of him to do that, I appreciated it a lot.
So today at noon we went to the hotel that the whole event was being held at. We walked in and there were a bunch of Korean women in hanboks there to greet us and show us where to go. We went into the first room and there were several stations set up. At the first one they gave us Korean post cards and a gorgeous book about Korea that I'm really happy to have. Then we went to the second station and they had hanboks in all different sizes for us to try on. Josh and I both tried one on and we looked fabulous. :) The third station was a craft table where the kids made a Korean coaster that turned out really cute.
Then we went into the next room and they had all sorts of fun things in there! I learned how to make Korean jewelry and hair clips (yay!) while the boys learned paper folding (which we call origami, although that's not the Korean word. I can't remember what they call it in Korean.) and then we all learned how to write our names in Korean and we got to paint it on rice paper. So fun!!
Then we went outside in the courtyard and they had Korean food demonstrations and everyone got to make their own kimbap, which is basically sushi with no fish. It's vegetables and rice wrapped in seaweed. It's pretty good! We also had a few other Korean dishes that were really yummy. We had fun eating noodles with chopsticks!
Then rest of the courtyard was filled with different stations where they were teaching Korean games and music. The kids played a game where they had to throw sticks in a pot and they learned how to play a song on some big drums. We had SO much fun! Every second of it was just awesome.
While we were there we were amused to find that a few people knew who we were. We ran into a woman there who is the mother of one of Master Lee's teenage assistants. We had never met her but her daughter (Master Lee's assistant) apparently talks about us and her mom knew who we were right away when she saw us. She was so nice to us, she was working at the food booth and she snuck us to the front of the line, lol. We felt like VIP's. :) The Korean community here is pretty small and we stand out as being the only cacausian family with a young Korean adopted child, so when people hear that there's an adoptive family, it's obvious that it's us when they see us. Word gets around, I guess. Everyone was SO incredibly nice to us.
So after all those fun festivities we came home briefly, changed into nicer clothes and went back to the hotel for the banquet. It was held in a big banquet hall at the hotel and it was awesome. The events during the day were open to the public but the dinner was just for members of the IKA, so it was mostly Koreans. I feel surprisingly at home in a room full of Koreans, lol. We stick out like a sore thumb a bit, but they all were so friendly and welcoming. I really enjoyed myself and we made some new friends.
Once everyone was settled they had us all stand and they sang the Korean national anthem and then the Star Spangled Banner. I'm a big dork and things like that make me tear up a bit. To see all those Koreans proudly sing their national anthem and then honor the US by singing our anthem was kind of cool. It felt like the olympics. :)
The dinner was delicious and there was a lot of entertainment to go along with it. Before the dinner started they did a really neat presentation. A few years ago the IKA paid for two American Korean war veterans to go back to Korea and they were both at the dinner. They presented them with a video presentation about the Korean war that was really neat. It was kind of a thank you to the American soldiers for how much they helped Korea during the war. It was a really touching video. It talked about how Korea has gone from a country that needed aid to being a prosperous country that provides aid. I thought that was neat. After the video they had the vets stand up and they presented them with plaques that were signed by the president of Korea! Super cool!
Then they had a few guest speakers, including the mayor. There were several community leaders there, which I thought was nice. They served a great dinner and while we ate there were several musical groups that performed traditional Korean songs and dance and then the highlight for the kids-Master Lee and his two assistants came and did a taekwondo demonstration. The kids were super excited and I always love to watch the black belts perform.
We really had an amazing time. I know I keep saying that but the whole thing was just awesome. I feel like we have friends in the Korean community and that makes me happy. When the dinner was over we went out in the courtyard and sat with Master Lee and his assistants and their families and it was nice to feel like part of their group. Half the conversation was in Korean, but they still made us feel like we belonged there! :)
It was a really really really great day. The whole family kept talking in the car on the way home about how much fun we had. Fun is an understatement-it was a truly awesome day. :)