Barb Waldern July Report from South Korea: dragon boat experience comes in handy on rubber rafts

Barb Waldern is a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team member who has now been in South Korea teaching English since June last year.

Barb is sending correspondence back to us describing her intercultural experiences in South Korea.

Hello, all.

Another month has passed. How was July?

There's
me at a company event at a youth camp at a seashore facility posing
with co-workers. Super co-workers. We're wearing company t-shirts. We
were bored–very little planned activity for us so we just sat around
watching, mostly. Kids bored a lot of the time too, about 500 being
confined to a big auditorium when not left hanging around the muddy
beach.

We did get to experience rubber rafts, though. The
dragon boat training came in handy because the camp leaders got us into
a raft and left us, an assortment of teachers with little paddling
experience, to drift, sink or swim. A guide was waiting in a motor boat
and he pulled us part of the way. I was the only foreigner on the raft
and I didn't understand his tour guide presentation except something
about that being an ancient place of traditional fishing.

Had a
couple of trips to Seoul. Met some Filipino migrant workers. Went to a
rally–see photo of me and Chinese teacher at huge (1/2 million) vigil
against US beef imports, Pres. Lee and undemocratic governance,
privatization, free trade, US military, and more (in that order of
priority). We two also visited an historic park and posed in 19th to
early 20th century garb. (See photo of “princess”). It's mind boggling
to see photos of people wearing that stuff and living a completely
different life barely 100 years ago. And a lot of people wear
traditional clothes, the fancy or everyday wear, still. You can see
elders carrying things on their head, too.

My
second trip to Seoul followed the camp thing in a week of vacation
time. Didn't do much, enjoyed hiding away undisturbed to sleep a lot or
watch movies most of the time. (I've been getting the oddest phonecalls
at the oddest hours and out of the blue since my name's been circulated
as a teachers' advocate.) These days I lock my phone away in another
room when I want to sleep!)

Did visit Seoul Tower
at and after sunset. A window  posted distance between Seoul and other cities. Seoul-Vancouver: 7,124 km.

On
my first vacation day in Seoul, however, I attended a meeting of a
progressive peace coalition as a special guest. That was cool. The
chairperson welcomed me by name. There's a photo of me tying
multicolored ribbons of unity strong enough to pull in genuine and
lasting peace.

I really wish I could get to the Nagasaki peace
ceremony. But I can't make it by 11:00a.m. on Saturday. I hope to visit
the city another time. There are probably memorials in Korean cities.

On
the last part of my vacation week, I went to a couple of beaches to
catch the annual Sea Festival in Busan. Lots of free outdoor
entertainment during the Fest. I met friends at a free rock concert on
one of the beaches. Nice location and the music was mostly good.

I
continue to plan for the winter return to Vancouver. Keep in mind my
appeal for temporary cheap lodgings Nov-Feb. Don't want to blow my wad
on living expenses. (Done that before!) Besides, Revenue Canada is
competing for it. They were thoughtful enough to send me a letter,
yeah–demanding more money when I'm supposed to be tax exempt for half
of 2007! You know me. I'm protesting of course.

I
like to get calls from afar. Just remember the time difference: 16 hrs
the next day. So best to call between 4pm and 9pm your time in BC
(except Weds & Thurs in BC time–I'm on summer schedule and start
work earlier two days a week). Thanks to those who've called so far,
but I won't answer between midnight and 7a.m.!

Have fun in what sun you can get over there this August. Talk to you later.

Barb

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