Last weekend, the other exchange students and I had to get up early to go to Daejeon for a Samulnori Performance at a District Rotary Conference. For the weeks before, we had been doing a lot of extra practicing in preparation for this performance. I still was not very good at playing the jjang-gu, but I was not too worried as I assumed that it would just be a smaller Rotary event, where we would play our song, then come back.
Upon arriving in Daejeon at the college for the conference, we were surprised to discover that the event was not for Rotary members as we had expected, but instead for all of the many Interact and Rotaract Clubs of District 3680 (my school is one of the Interact clubs, so a lot of my classmates that were not in Samulnori also came along). I found out just how large this event would be when I walked through the auditorium on the way to where we would prepare behind the stage for our performance. The auditorium was a rather large performance space and it was filled with people.
With the number of people there, I got very nervous about the performance, but I was fortunate that we went first during the event. I had one of the students from my school use my camera to record the performance. When we finished the performance, we were able to go into the audience and watch the proceedings. I was very tired, so I ended up falling asleep in my seat during one of the speeches that was given.
After this part of the presentation, we went down to the basement area for lunch. Then, after a quick stop at a convenience store in the building to get snacks, we made our way back to the auditorium. We found out on the way that we would be seeing a talent show performed in by the students at the conference.
At this talent show, I was able to see a lot of differences when compared to talent shows in the United States. One of the most noticeable was the amount of freedom the performers had in what they wanted to do. To my understanding, they were limited by their own desire to do well. This meant that there was some more edgy clothing and dance moves than would be allowed in the U.S. The other side of this was that the people who performed were really talented, as they had to defend the need for these things. One of the other major differences was in how long each group would perform. Most of the groups were doing musical performances with singing or dancing being the most common, but instead of just one song, some of the groups did quite a few. It was interesting to see the different takes on some of the same songs, while each group also had some that were more unique. The talent show lasted quite a while and afterward, they began some presentations again, but our group had to go because we still had a long bus ride to get back.
When we got back, I was feeling very tired, so I went to bed, even though it was very early for me. I ended up sleeping for more than 12 hours, which made that Sunday the first day of my nearly three months here where I felt well-rested. It was definitely a fun experience going to the conference and I hope that there will be another one in the future.
Also, this week, I learned that there will be five students going from my school in Korea to the United States next year, including my current host sister and my next host sister. I am really happy that they will also get to experience the exchange experience and that more students will be able to come here next year for their exchange. I really look forward to seeing the preparations for sending students abroad from this part of the world and helping with the next group that will be coming here.
Editor's note: P.J.?Sproule is a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the Houghton Rotary Club living near Seocheon, South Korea, for a year.