So today I was invited at the last minute, in perfect Korean style, to attend the ground breaking ceremony for two new buildings: a dormitory for international students and a building for our Childhood Education department. There were a few songs that I recognized ("Great Is Thy Faithfulness" was one.), but mostly I just sat there politely and listened to several speeches in Korean. I could pick out about 5-10% of the words, which I guess is an improvement of the 1-2% of a few years ago, but I still didn't get much of the meaning. Once I think I understood a whole sentence. That's quite an accomplishment for me.
It was quite a ceremony, with several dignitaries and university leaders joining in on the ribbon cutting and ground breaking (with a dozen goldish shovels!). After the ceremony, one of the KNU leaders tried to pull me up front to join the picture - I think kind of as the token whitey. Luckily he quickly moved on to others, so I had the opportunity to opt out of that. Instead, I had a very interesting conversation with President Im's wife SeJun Oh. As we talked about her kids and her part-time job as a counselor at a Junior High school, a light went on in my head. We are always having people who need counseling of one sort or another, so I asked her for some advice about who might be able to help. She referred me to the counseling prof at KNU, who apparently speaks better English, but said she would be available for any Korean speakers. Just one of those little victories for a pastor without a lot of community resources.
And the 3rd building, I haven't mentioned yet. This one is apparently going to be a mammoth Rehabilitation Center. I think the ground breaking will be in 2009. If you don't know, rehabilitation is KNU's premier major and claim to fame in Korea.