Last week, on Friday, my school had their yearly festival. I’ve never been to something like this in the United States. I’m curious if some U.S. schools, maybe private schools, have festivals like this. Unfortunately, Erin and I both forgot to take our cameras. It was a real spectacle. My students told me this week that they posted a video from the festival of them singing and dancing to a K-pop song on some Korean version of YouTube. If I can find it, I’ll link it here. My student “Alex” said to me: “Mr. Cartwright, I am sure that we are going to be famous now. Our video had maybe twenty hits on Friday, and then I looked today, and we have 300 hits!” I’m kind of at a loss to explain exactly what happened at this festival in some way that makes sense. There was food. It was in a giant, fancy auditorium. Parents were there. Teachers were there. Students danced, and one student sang opera in Italian. There was a movie about two students who love the same girl that was shown. Students dressed up like waiters would run up and down the aisles and deliver things to people. There was some strange raffle where everyone had to stand up and look for a number on the bottom of their seats. A lot of my fellow teachers got on stage and danced with giant lollipops to a K-pop song called “I am kissing you.” There was a dance contest. Some of my twelve year old students dressed up in drag and sang a song called “Hey Mister!” from a Korean movie. They looked a little like the supremes. They were wearing a lot of blue, silver and gold lamay. A lot of things are more intense and confusing because of my lack of language over here. I felt a little like Hunter Thompson while watching all of it.
It was interesting to introduce Erin to my students, who are really fascinated by her. They’ve slowly gotten comfortable with talking to me, and seeing me every day, but I think Erin threw them for a loop. Some of my students would run up to us in their bowties and waiter uniforms in the auditorium and would start chattering away to me because they were excited to see me, and then you could visibly see them notice Erin out of the corner of their eye, who was sitting beside me, and they’d freeze up and get tongue-tied and the exchange would go something like this:
“Mr. Cartwright…is this…your wife?” I would say yes and introduce them and my students would sort of wave and say “hello!!!” really loudly, clearly very excited, and then they would look nervous, as if Erin’s presence threw a wrench in the script they were planning out in their head for what they would say when they saw me. I remember making scripts in my head like this in all of my French and German conversation courses. I think they’re curious about what exactly Americans do. They’re always watching me very closely, which was a little anxiety-inducing at first, but it’s just normal curiosity, and there is no cultural taboo against staring here, I think. It’s certainly not meant to make me feel uncomfortable. I always feel like I’m kind of a letdown, though. I don’t have a colt 45 to take out of my pocket and twirl around. Sometimes I think they’re waiting for me to order pizza. I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do at those moments. Sing the national anthem? Start a business? Call a limousine? I like my students.