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classroom to the teacher, I did not look at him in the eye, as I was paying the respect he deserved, all the while looking nervous and jittery. “So Jae, you know that someone took all the candy in the candy jar, right?” asked the teacher.
Jae“Yes” I responded, casting my glance to the ground, understanding what happened from the previous kids who were questioned.“Did you take the candy? It’s okay, just tell me. You won’t get in trouble” said the teacher, very nicely and collectedly.“No” I responded, with my eyes still glued to the floor. All I understood were the words “you take candy”, “tell me”, and “trouble”“If you did take it and you tell me now, you won’t get in trouble. However, if you did take it and lie, you are going to get in bigger trouble,” said the teacher rather sternly.I was lost at this point, because the sentence was too long and I could not keep up. I responded “No”, all the while still looking at the floor and appearing very guilty.To the teacher who was unaccustomed to the Korean culture, I was practically pleading guilty, since I looked very nervous and could not look at him in the eye. When the teacher made the verdict that it was I who so treacherously stole the candy I went home on the verge of in tears. Only after my mother went to the school the next day to explain to the teacher, he finally understood that I was just exhibiting a customary Korean nonverbal signal. Luckily for me, the real culprit apparently broke down when she saw she had made the innocent boy run home on the verge of tears, and confessed to her parents when she got back home. Due to the different “nonverbal sensory world” (pg.69) me and my teacher lived in, my true intentions were not delivered and instead potentially painted a negative image of me in the eyes of my teacher, clearly demonstrating a barrier in smooth communication. Besides from the problem with eye contact, the common smile and conversations with strangers are communication barriers that can result in a social blunder as I have discovered. The Korean student in the author’s essay says “most Korean people take time to get friendly with people,” (pg.67) which I feel is true with almost all foreign students studying abroad. Koreans bond especially well with other Koreans, so it can result in a close-
Jaeknit society where Koreans bunch up together and only hang out with other Koreans. It is generally more difficult for Korean students to quickly make new friends than some of our American counterparts. While the reason for inability to quickly make friends is unclear, potentially from our lack of proficiency from the language or some other reason, I could see it in high school and college. Perhaps it is because we “never talk or smile at strangers” (pg.67), and most Korean people tend to just not pay much attention to other people whom they don’t know. While it is so common in the United States to say “thank you” and smile