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By now, we should all know that the Korean culture emphasizes the group over the individual. One of the ways we can see this is in the occurrence of MT: Membership Training. Don’t let the name fool you, there really isn’t any “training” involved. Let me explain…

Often, groups of people will go somewhere together overnight or for a weekend to get to know each other better. Usually this involves lots of games, food, alcohol, and bonding time, but lacks in sleep. ^^ This phenomenon is called MT (for whatever reason), and many groups of people will go: work groups, students, people who are going to be together for any length of time..

I am by no means an expert on this subject, but I have had the opportunity to attend two of these events, the most recent being last weekend. I’ll share a bit of my experience.

The situation was kind of intimidating, to be honest: Friday night I boarded a bus with a bunch of people I had never met, who don’t speak english, and we were off to who-knows-where to do who-knows-what! There were about 150 of us that ended up at a resort about 90 minutes from the city, and the weekend was amazing!

Both MTs I have been on have been with a Korean Church, so it was a little different than a work related MT (namely the lack of alcohol), but the effect was still the same. We played lots of games in groups: star golden bell style word games, passing a cookie down the line with a spoon and no hands, tug of war, and mafia, among others. We did other activities as a group too: hiking in the mountains, cooking and eating together, prayer and worship together (since it was a church MT), group presentations, and we even put on a “fashion show” contest to see which group could put together the most convincing cross-dressing boy. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ

What about the lack of English, you might be wondering? I was actually looking forward to it! The biggest deficiency in my Korean is in speaking, and last weekend forced me to do a lot of it! Of course there were other people who speak perfect English, but I didn’t want to make anyone speak English just for me. Sometimes I had to ask for clarification, but the majority of everything was in Korean!

The reaction of everyone else is worth noting as well. Gradually throughout the weekend people were realizing that I can actually speak and understand Korean, so more and more people started talking to me. Everyone was very surprised, as usual! I guess they thought I was someone’s friend who just came for fun? But by the end of the weekend I was like the mascot or something.. People made sure I was involved and that I understood everything and were happy to talk to me in Korean. ^^

I went into the weekend very nervous, feeling like I didn’t really fit in at the Korean Church I’ve been attending, and not having any friends there. I came home with a ton of friends, and a sense of belonging. I think that is the point of MT. ^^

Anyone else have any experiences with MT?