I have some quiet time in a peaceful hostel in Insadong, the arty area of Seoul, tonight. I need some rest.
We partied last night and drank to much good wine. R prepared some vegetarian lasagna Korean style, using sweetened salsa and corn, no less! We played some parlour games badly and dishonestly. The guests were nice and fun company, but considerate and left by 11:00 o'clock, but our sleep got interrupted by the cat several times while we were trying to sleep, then had to rise at 7 so that I could be in good time to catch my 9 a.m. train from Daejeon to Seoul. R asked that I visit him again in the spring.
From Seoul station, I caught a little more breakfast before I searched for the Professional Development building at the women's university campus where our KOTESOL organizational meeting of the National Council was to be held starting at 11:00. We got through the meeting a little early, at around 3:30, after having just one short lunch break. I had to talk with some of the officers, get my travel reimbursement, ask about promotional materials for our Chapter after the meeting, then call my friends to make arrangements to meet them for dinner.
Yeah, a busy day. I'm glad to have showered and be in a warm room for the night. I'm pleased that there are no room-mates in this four-bunk dorm.
I met Kevin and Sean and we decided to go for some noodles at a popular place in fashionable Myeongdong. People were queuing up to get in, so it was no place to linger and talk. In fact, the waitresses hustled us in, threw the menu at us and bruskly took our money and cleared the table at the earliest opportunity, strongly indicating that we had better get up and get out. Anyway, the food was good and well priced.
We three then decided to get out of that bustling district to escape the crowds, so we trekked about trying to find this hostel. I\m afraid to say that we walked around in a big circle, though guided by a map, and I ended up asking a worker at a rival hostel to show us where my hostel was. The signage was not good, and, in fact, the main sign at the site was not lit up, but we reached it down a dark alley and met the friendly staff. The place is rudimentary but clean and well run as hostels tend to be.
I had expected to sit through some contentious exchanges during the KOTESOL Council meeting, but it went surprisingly smoothly. It was well chaired and the atmosphere remained courteous and light most of the time compared to a previous national council meeting I once attended. Considering that there are some big financial issues, and people had a lot of questions about them, and considering that our main institution, the annual international conference is being overhauled, relocated and repackaged, the discussion was well organized and people were given ample time to speak according to the rules of order and the time constraints. The financial matters were handled in such a way that there was proper preparation and reportage, and the presentation and chairing avoided an outbreak of finger-pointing and panic. Though it was clear that there are are some internal conflicts, dissent was respected and welcomed and everybody considered all points well. The atmosphere remained healthy and the work was constructive.
Actually, the changes that are happening sound exciting and welcome to my hears. KOTESOL was beginning to seem redundant and irrelevant to me, and I am a member who has withdrawn her attention to KOTESOL. I'm pleased to see that I'm not the only one expressing this feeling about it, and moreover, glad to see that there are active members willing to take some risks and make some changes. It has been too conservative an organization for too long. Now, they are moving the international conference away from a university setting and into a convention center, and proposing to work with a fraternal organization to combine forces and plan the event jointly. Also, more outreach to school teachers, graduate students and Koreans is going to be done. Also, a standard reporting system is to be created. Some hitches at improving the website are being worked out. Hoorah!