My Host Family: Or, The Cast, in Order of Appearance

This year’s show will be performed by the following actors:

The Main Cast

Host Mom – My host mom is so hospitable, I have to wonder if all Korean moms are like this! Even though she does not usually leave the apartment until late morning, she wakes up at 5:30 like I do to make breakfast for my sister Su Bin and ensure that we are ready to start the day. My host mom is also highly involved in the school community, and she is always well-dressed. It is a little awkward that my host mom and I do not speak the same language, but we are finding ways to communicate. Right now there’s a lot of gestures and very basic Korean words. Sometimes I resort to pointing and saying “oohs” and “aahs.” Even as a child, I did not feel this much like a child. Maybe by Christmas, I will be able to have a real conversation with my host mom.

Ye Bin (예빈) – Ye Bin is the older of my two host sisters. She graduated from high school two years ago, and she is transferring from a junior college to a university. She wants to go to Inje University in Gimhae to study photography and design. Ye Bin is outgoing and has a great sense of humor. We have been speaking in English (which I feel a little guilty about), but I am gradually speaking more Korean. My goal for the year is to become conversational in Korean, and I’m sure Ye Bin will be able to help me (read: correct my atrocious pronunciation). Right now, we are finding ways to communicate with English, Korean, and my new best friend Naver Dictionary. I think that Ye Bin and I will become very close.

Su Bin (수빈) – Su Bin is the younger sister, and she is in her final year of high school at Gimhae Jeil. Compared to Ye Bin, she is quiet and introverted, but also very sweet. She wants to be an entertainer, so every day after school, she goes to a performance hagwon in Busan until very late at night. I feel guilty going to bed so early (9-9:30 PM) when she doesn’t come home until after 1 AM! Living with Su Bin will give me an interesting snapshot into Korean family life and how the Korean educational system (perhaps adversely) affects it.

Host Dad –  I don’t see my host dad much, but he has also been very kind. Most mornings, he drives Su Bin and me to school. Host Dad and Host Mom also own a fitness center in the heart of Gimhae, so that will be our meeting spot after school sometimes. I hope to get to know him better soon.

 

Supporting characters

Grandma – There is nothing more intimidating than a Korean grandmother – kind as she may be – gesturing at you and speaking rapidly in Korean. I’m never sure if she’s asking me how my day was or telling me I have something stuck in my teeth. The reasons to learn Korean just keep piling up.

Aunt – Almost every day, my host mom’s sister and her two sons come over to the apartment for a meal or coffee. An interesting glimpse into the importance of the Korean extended family.

Nephews – Two boys, six and eight years old, who are full of energy. I think they are a little confused about why this weird American is hanging around all the time, but they seem to like saying “Hello!” when they see me!

Host Mom’s friends – The ladies I met at dinner during my first night in Gimhae. Even though we speak two different languages, I can feel their warmth and kindness–especially when they wave and say, “Bye bye!”

Stay tuned for the continuation of Act I: Becoming 선생님.

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