By Jane Han
NEW YORK ― This Chuseok, Korean teachers in New York City public schools have a special favor to ask their students: don’t go to school.
Stay home, enjoy time with family and celebrate the Korean holiday, they say.
This isn’t to get students in trouble, but to get one of Korea’s most important traditional holidays recognized in the U.S., or at least in New York.
The Korean American Teachers Association of New York (KATANY) is leading the campaign to ensure that Chuseok becomes an official school holiday, similar to how many Jewish holidays are observed.
``Jewish students and teachers are granted days off to celebrate and observe their holidays, but Korean and Asian students are not given the same opportunity for their national festivals,’’ said Kim Eun-joo, head of the teachers’ group.
KATANY, supported by the New York Korean Parents’ Association, pushed a similar campaign for ``Seollal,’’ or the Lunar New Year, earlier this year. This is the first time to back the ``skip school movement’’ for Chuseok.
``We’re not being unreasonable,’’ says Emma Lee, a parent who plans to keep her second-grade daughter home on Wednesday, the day of Chuseok. ``We live in America, where all cultures and values should be recognized and honored.’’
Like Lee, many Korean parents are expected to take part in the campaign this week.
Despite skipping school, students will not suffer any disadvantages as the New York City public school system currently grants a day off from school for cultural holidays with written parental notification.
``We hope that our voices will be heard and a change will come about soon,’’ said Kim of KATANY. ``If we participate in unity, our national holiday will get officially recognized not only by New York public schools, but by those nationwide.’’
While New York teachers and parents campaign for Chuseok, various festivals are being held across the country to celebrate Korean Thanksgiving.
Korean markets have kicked off major Chuseok sales featuring fruit, poultry and meat from Korea.
Local Korean associations in New York, California and Hawaii, among other states, plan to host Chuseok parties for senior citizens and street events to promote the Korean holiday and traditional food.