Generally, the national Korea TESOL retreat went well and was very productive. There was good attendance from around the country packing the room to standing only capacity. The program was well thought out, beginning with a report on a membership survey, followed by a suggestion of what our purpose and function is today. The slogan put forward was, “teachers helping teachers.” From there, we moved into “break-out sessions” to discuss different aspects of organization. I attended the sessions on membership, publications and publicity. Most participants left abruptly after the second period of sessions, so that the last part became limp, with only two functioning session left engaged in constructive discussion. Unfortunately, I chose one that should have been canceled. I felt deflated at the end.
The train ride was quiet and smooth, though I only snatched a few winks. As usual, it pulled into Seoul Station a few minutes late. The venue of the retreat only being one subway stop away, and the territory familiar to me, I made it there in just 20 minutes and found the room. I thus arrived about 10 minutes after the proceedings had begun and grabbed a program and a seat. My colleagues from Busan were there already and the most interesting segment of the day’s work, the membership survey findings, was underway. I still want to study the details of that report presented for it is very informative, although one has to be aware that the sample is just that, and perhaps not so scientifically established, making comparisons with previous annual survey results doubtful. I felt good and energetic to face the day. I joined a Busan colleague in the membership working session right away, and we both ended signing our names to committee work.
Having heard all the ambitious hints that there would be exciting efforts at assessing the organization and starting a process of renewal, I was disappointed. There was no assessment, although there were some pretty good efforts at improving things all around. We made some progress at membership, especially because our recent work in my local chapter was presented and took a leading role in orienting the discussion of improvements to membership recruitment content and forms. However, the words “teachers helping teachers” rang hollow to me. There was nothing much holding them up.
Despite that feeling that something important was lacking, it was nonetheless good to be partaking in some activity making positive changes happen. Some of the changes we were addressing can help people in real ways; it would not be true to say that our work was all about sustaining an organization’s life for the sake of having the organization. It was pointed out that morning that we are a social organization; we are not facts and rules, but a collection of people and we can do more to help each other in important ways.
This weekend I read news from my alumni association. One article invited authors to submit information about new works published this year to be honoured at the spring tribute to alumni who are active writers. I will be able to upload this last volume in a few days, in time to get the whole set of raw blogs posted online so that I will honestly be able to say that these works were published this year.