Sunday, August 16, 2009

Days of Dawon

Last February, my brother Matt packed his bags and headed half-way across the world to teach English to Korean school children. He's been pretty happy exploring a new culture, teaching others his own language and a little about his own culture.

Along the way, he was introduced to a young language student, studying to become a translator. The mutual acquaintance thought they could practice talking together. As it turns out, they began doing more than talking. They started spending a lot of time together, and it has turned into a romance.

A few weeks ago, Dawon announced on FaceBook that she was coming to America. She had a four week translator's seminar to attend. And my parents asked if she'd be able to come visit.

She came.

And my parents began showing her what life in the South was like. Whirlwind tours of some of our local attractions. Zboy and I got to go along on a few.

We started with the basics... BBQ out of a trailer next to a gas station. Mmmmm....

A couple of days later, we took her to the Tallahassee Museum and showed her the 1800's farm- stead, complete with cow, sheep, turkeys, and actual buildings!

I've always loved these buildings... If Florida weren't so overcrowded and people could still trust their fellow man, we could save a bundle on AC because these buildings are so COOL inside! They take advantage of shade and crosswind and are quite lovely to hang out in.

However, walking around in the humid 90-degree heat was beginning to take its toll on us. We took refuge in the air-conditioned Phipps Gallery, which featured artifacts from the Civil War. There was also a dress up corner for kids, but Dawon was small enough to get into one of the costumes.

After recovering in the AC, ZBoy, Dawon and I left Mom in there and went to do the nature trail. After exposing Dawon to Florida wildlife (impressive, especially the alligator which has grown quite large now), we met Mom back at the Trailhead Cafe for lunch.

On our way out, we stopped by the caboose. This was always ZBoy's favorite part of the museum when he was little. He always loved climbing up into the engineer's seat where they could look out over the top of the train and see the scenery rushing by.

One year, our Christmas cards included a picture of him on the back of the caboose - just like this picture of Dawon!

After the Museum, we went back to the TV station, which is nearby.

ZBoy showed her all the cool stuff in my office...

And Darling Man showed her all the cool buttons in Master Control. I don't know how much of the tour she understood (TV is a whole other language), but she enjoyed going out into the studio and sitting on the sets and seeing the lights.

Darling Man is quite the foodie. He loves trying out new cuisines - especially those of the Asian variety. So you can imagine how excited he was when we were invited out to the farm for an authentic Korean dinner, prepared by Dawon!

One of the dishes was a potato dumpling soup (dumpling in the American sense, not the pocket-like dishes in several Asian cuisines).

The preparation was very interesting... So similar to making chicken-n-dumplings, and yet different.

Mom decided she'd give this dumpling-thing a try. Darling Man got in on the action too.

Unlike American dumplings, these are supposed to be very thin. But the potato dough is extremely sticky and hard to thin out. I guess it's one of those things that takes a lot of practice. Dawon's were lovely, thin things, which cooked up nice and tender. The ones Mom and Darling Man did were thicker and cooked up rather chewy.

While the grown-ups were in the kitchen, watching and sometimes participating as Dawon put together our meal of soup, rice, beef and kimchee, the kids occupied themselves in the family room...

Kimchee is a Korean dish made with cabbage and spices. It can be very mild or very spicy. And for some people (Darling Man) spicy is never spicy enough. Better to have some of the local hot sauce on hand to turn up the heat!

Served up, dinner looked like this:

Rather looks like a yin-yan symbol... And I am terribly enamored of the tableware... It is so delicate to look at and to handle - I want to get some soon!!! It's absolutely beautiful.

With the table laid, we gathered around for the blessing. The children ate in the family room on the coffee table. I'd brought some macaroni and cheese and spinach for them just in case, but they devoured their Korean dinner and asked for more!

The next night, Darling Man and I reciprocated with a good, old-fashioned American cookout with hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, potato salad and baked beans. The swimming pool was a big hit in the heat of the day, and ZBoy, Dawon and I played in the pool while Darling Man cooked.

For dessert, we had a pear custard (made by Mom, inspired by seeing "Julia & Julia"), Georgia pecan pie, and Key Lime pie with coffee. Everyone had a smidge of each.

After dinner, ZBoy headed upstairs, Darling Man played a video game, and Mom, Dad, Dawon and I looked at old photo albums. She got to see childhood photos of Matt as well as everyone else, photos of places Mom and Dad took her to from our own past visits, and animals we've had as my family grew up.

Bleary-eyed and full of cook-out food, they decided it was time to go. Mom had been sitting on the floor and had a little trouble getting up after so long...

And with the pause between getting up and going, Dawon finally had a chance to make Revan's aquaintance. He really was enjoying his tummy rub!

Dawon leaves tomorrow (Monday) morning to go back to the west coast and then on back to Korea. She will be sorely missed - in these all too short two weeks, she has become like a much-loved member of the family. I don't know what the future holds in terms of the relationship between her and Matt, but if things work out and she comes back to the states with him eventually, she will be welcomed back with open arms.

Bye, Dawon!!! See you on FaceBook!


min said...

This looks like so much fun...and made me hungry!! Thank goodness I have some Kim chee on hand.

margaret said...

Yummy meal!! *drool* I also came by to make sure that you are doing OK with TS Claudette rapping on your door - it looked like the trajectory was headed right for your neck of the woods. Hope all is well my friend.

Jan said...

It's so great that you got to meet some one who is going to be part of your family. Looks like you all had a great visit.

Island Rider said...

Ah, so now I know who Dawon is and how she found my blog! Sounds like a really neat lady. I am glad that you had a great visit with her.

Jan n Jer said...

That is so nice to be able to meet someone from another country and culture. Its fun to teach them about our culture here.

Sandcastle Momma said...

What a great visit she must have had and how wonderful that your family likes her so much.

karisma said...

Looks like you all have been having a great time getting to know each other. Those chops sticks look amazing. I have only ever seen them in plastic or wood.

Anonymous said...



Faye said...

What a lovely family story Sayre. Loved the sharing of all aspects of the Korean and American cultures. And how good of Matt's family to smooth the way for the developing relationship in the future. If it doesn't work out, not your fault!:-)

Anonymous said...

Look like you enjoyed very much. This all photos make me hungry.


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