SCRAPED, SCOOPED, AND SWEPT

Teachers sweeping snow before school starts at Bibong Elementary in Ochang, South Korea.

Nearly every teacher took to the sidewalk with brooms and dustpans in hand. It was a sight to see as we scraped, scooped, and swept the snow away. Something I love about Korea is this sort of community in which everyone takes an active part. Literally, everyone helped shovel snow today. Even the principal and vice principal got involved.

Whenever I’m part of something like this I cry. I cry because it’s so beautiful to be part of something bigger than me. The act of “lending a helping hand” is simple, but when everyone lends a hand it becomes so much more. What took us about an hour to do together, would have taken one or two people the entire day.

My school had three shovels for roughly 30 teachers, so most of us just grabbed what we could find. Some teachers used brooms. I had a dustpan. One hacked with a sharp, unidentifiable object. A few threw snowballs. Others applauded.

Several teachers were quite impressed with my ice scraping skills. I even got on my hands and knees for an extra cheer. Though most of the cheering was in Korean, I was able to understand when one of them mentioned “Iowa”. Be proud my fellow Iowans. Be proud. They must think all of us are expert ice scrapers, and probably assume everyone gets down on all fours to do it.

It’s so important for me to do this stuff, no matter how much I don’t really want to at times. I originally went outside to take a few photos of the snow, but ended up scrapping that plan to scrape. I know my help was appreciated and noticed, so I'm glad did. And students got a good laugh at it too, as I was literally on their level as they made their way to school.

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