By Jason KUROSU
On a particular Thursday at Monte Vista Elementary, parents, as they would every school day, scrambled to get their kids ready for school. The difference on this day was that the parents of the children in Monte Vista’s Korean Immersion class made their preparations at school, getting their kids dressed in traditional clothing in time to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The Dual Language Immersion Program, which has only existed at Monte Vista since the beginning of this school year, not only gives students an in-depth education of the Korean language, but also exposes the students to various aspects of Korean culture. For the Lunar New Year, the class celebrated the holiday according to typical Korean customs.
After the parents got their kids properly dressed in formal hanbok, the children gathered in the middle of the classroom. Lining up in rows, they prepared to bow before a group of elders, a tradition that often takes place at home with the older members of the family.
In place of the elder family members were two grandparents of one of the students, Monte Vista principal Dr. Susan Hoge and the parents of the Dual Language Immersion Program Coordinator Rosabel Park. All were dressed in hanbok. Many parents and grandparents were in attendance though, delighting in the ceremony, along with another kindergarten class.
As tradition dictates, the children wished good health and prosperity for the elders in the coming year and the elders then gave the children money after the bowing. The students received dollar bills with two cupped hands, the respectful way.
Afterwards, the students ate duk kook, a common dish eaten at Lunar New Year celebrations, consisting of rice cakes in soup. The children changed out of their traditional clothes, so they wouldn’t get them dirty.
“Most of the dresses are provided, but some parents brought them from home,” said Park.
The parents’ contributions were plentiful, from the clothing to the food.
“Thank you for this delicious food!” the students loudly announced in Korean before feasting.
Some of the children would travel to the houses of uncles, aunts and grandparents later on in the day to repeat the same ceremony, but not all, and especially not the non-Korean students. It was an enlightening day that both imparted much about Korean culture and celebrated the New Year appropriately.