give it away now

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One of the lovely expat traditions in Sokcho is the "giving away party," at which one liquidates ones assets accumulated while here. In this respect, there are basically two types of expats in Korea: those who settle in, and those who just camp out for a while. The "campers" are usually young, single, and most likely just here for a year. The "settlers" are either older (mid-twenties and up), married, and/or here for several years. Only "settlers" usually host GAPs when they depart for home or a new locale, since they're the ones who have accumulated enough "stuff."

Our friend Ara, who is returning to the States this weekend, was definitely a settler. He has two of the three settler traits: he's older than I am (and we'll leave it at that) and just finished his second year at AP. His stay overlapped ours during his first month and last three months. He hosted a GAP this past Sunday.

Large items (cars, bikes, larger appliances, stereos, etc.) are usually sold, rather than given away. For example, Ara sold his car and oven (for a token fee) to other expat teachers. This still left a lot of food items, books, movies, etc. that he simply auctioned off to the quickest hand-raiser. Since he had previously taught for a year in Pohang (a slightly larger steel town further south down the coast), he had the foresight to mail himself boxes of food items that aren't available here. In addition, his mom sent him frequent care packages.

I wasn't able to stay for the entire party, as Liam was suffered from T&T (tired & teething), but Matthew was able to bring home a pretty good selection for us: tapioca pudding mix, various spices, graham crackers, arborio rice, a Yanni CD (Me: Yanni? Matthew: No one else wanted it. Me: Uh-huh.), a genuine Minnesota loon call whistle (which Liam has claimed), dental floss, neosporin, and five garbanzo beans. Someone else "won" the garbanzo beans, but she gave Matthew five so that he can try to grow some on our balcony. I dream of hummus. I'm also next in line for a boxed set of 100 cookie cutters, which currently belong to another AP teacher (Babbie) who leaves in another month.

As you may guess, we're settlers. We hosted our own GAP before leaving in 2006. Some of those items (books, movies, etc.) were regifted at Ara's. Now that he's leaving, the only other guest from our GAP still in Korea is our friend Kelsey.


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