Thursday, 15 April 2010

Mrs. Jeon’s Birthday!

Mrs. Jeon, my primary co-teacher, signed up for Facebook about six months ago. She had no idea what do with it, but she was curious about what it was for and decided to give it a try. Six months later, she has yet to use the website for anything, but it has proven to be useful for one reason: her birthday.

In Korea, a birthday isn’t nearly as big of a deal as back home. They have a couple big ones (the first and the hundredth), but for the most part, they remain fairly small; even more so for women. One of my coworkers once told me, “In Korea, husbands don’t celebrate birthdays. I’ve never celebrated my wife’s birthday.” When I asked him why not, he simply responded, “We just don’t.”

Last week, I signed onto Facebook and saw a notification that it was her birthday on the following Thursday. I marked it on my calendar, and waited…

On the Wednesday night, Jess decided that she was going to make her a cake from scratch. Keep in mind; we don’t have extensive ingredients, cooking utensils, or even an oven. Yet the double-decker, strawberry jam-filled, milk chocolate-coated vanilla cake that emerged from the kitchen was a true masterpiece. Yes, Jess is just that good…

I carried it to school on Thursday in an inconspicuous box, and set it down on the corner of my desk to tease Mrs. Jeon’s curiosity throughout our morning classes.

Lunch time rolled around, and I followed her to the cafeteria with my box in-hand. I brought up small talk to pull her attention away from the box while we were in-transit and once in the cafeteria, I casually set it down at the end of one table and proceeded to the lunch line.

About three or four minutes into lunch, with the entire school staff in attendance, I stood up and walked to the end of the table. I cleared my throat, and announced, “Excuse me everyone. Can I have your attention for one minute?” Everyone stopped eating and stared at me in confusion. I smiled and continued, “Today is a very special day. It’s Mrs. Jeon’s birthday!” The room immediately erupted into a mixture of chatter and laughter as one by one they understood what was going on. A few of the teachers started clapping, and one shouted, “Song!” I looked at Mrs. Jeon (who had the cutest embarrassed face I’ve ever seen) and started singing “Happy Birthday” for her to the cheers of all our coworkers. At the end of the song, everyone applauded, and one of the teachers got up and gave her a candy from his pocket.

At last, I revealed Jessica’s masterpiece. I had to explain that it wasn’t store-bought, and that it had been made just the night before. Needless to say, it stole the show away from Mrs. Jeon’s red face, and happily lived the rest of its life being snatched up and shared by the Bunam Middle School staff…

I love surprise parties!

- Ken


  1. This is really a feel-good story. I love it! You brightened up her day more than you'll probably ever know:)

  2. That's sooo sweet:)
    I'm sure she'll remember forever that a little butterfly(what you've suprised her) comes and sits on her shoulder to give her a smile when she feels lonely~