Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pohang is a Pretty Cool Place

Pohang is a pretty cool place. I'm going to miss it a ton.  The largest part of it's coolness comes from the people that live here.  Recently, I've gotten to know one of these cool people better.  He's a cool person organizing a cool thing in this cool city.
His name is Anthony and after teaching English for one year in Pohang he went home without a solid plan of what to do next.  Low and behold, a couple months later, he has now returned to Pohang.  He's a strong Christian and he told me he felt God leading to come back here.  I admire him for his faith and his ability to get people together and do cool things.
The cool thing that he is organizing is.... a flash mob.  What's a flash mob?  A flash mob is when a group of people assemble suddenly in a public place and do something that no one expects.  For us, this thing was a dance.  For a good number of weeks we got together late at night and practiced a dance than Anthony and other practiced dancers put together. Then a couple weeks ago, at the Busan Sand Festival, we finally showed it to the world.

It was a huge success. I didn't think it would go so well.  We actually did it three times and each of them were so fun, so electric.  Here's another video of our second performance:

Another cool thing happened in Pohang within the (quite long) time period since my last blog.  This event was also planned by a cool person: myself.  So about a month ago, my pastor, Richie, who is all about creating community among foreigners in Pohang, came up to me and told me that he had found a guy to sponsor a foreigner volleyball tournament on the beach.  The sponsor, Mr Kim of the Bukbu Beach Buisness Association would provide prizes, food, and anything else needed to get as many foreigners in one place at one time.  I volunteered to organize the volleyball tournament; it sounded like a great idea and I had already thought of doing something like it.  But in the end, it turned out to be quite a bit more than a volleyball tournament.
Richie and Mr. Kim jumped on this chance to, not only organize a single foreigners event, but to begin a whole movement to give foreigners more recognition in the city.  And this meant that we had to meet with the Mayor.
With a little persuasion from Mr. Kim my director allowed me an hour's leave from school so I, acting as a representative for the foreigner community, could attend the meeting with the Mayor.  The whole thing made me feel pretty important and did wonders for my ego, but I really didn't do much.  I smiled and nodded and tried to look enthusiastic as Richie and Mr. Kim told the Mayor about their plan - me oblivious to what was happening. And in the end it turned out really well.  Richie told me the Mayor was all for the plan to try to meet the needs of foreigners more.  They even decided to erect a monument at Bukbu beach recognizing foreigners in the city and the countries they come from.  This all sounded great to me, but I still had to worry about the volleyball tournament.
The goal was to get as many foreigners to come to the event as possible.  That would show the Mayor and the city counselors that we are a significant force in the city - one that they should support.  So I tried to recruit as many teams as I could.  And with one week to go, I had about 12.  I was pretty happy with this amount, it wasn't a lot, but it was a good size for the tournament.  But as I should have expected, in the last two days of registration, this number doubled.  In the end we had 22 teams!  We had teams of English teachers, teams from the army, the navy, from our church, and from Handong University.  It was great to have so many people from all the groups of foreigners but on the night before the tournament, I stayed up worrying about how we would fit all the games into one day.  I wanted to make it a double elimination tournament so that a team would at least get to play two games, but this meant there would be 42 games all together!  I was imagining the final games being played long after supper time, after most people had gone home  I was also worried that rain might dampen people's motivation to come out for the opening ceremony which the Mayor was expected to attend.
I shouldn't have worried.  God must have played a part in how well it went because it all seemed to work out tickity-boo.  There was no rain, a little wind to contend with but it wasn't rain.  And all the games fit into 7 hours just fine.  Another thing I was concerned with was how happily some foreigners would be about city hall getting involved in our activities.  I thought there might be some remorse about that.  But after it was all over, I got the feeling that the foreigners there felt welcomed by the Mayor and appreciated the recognition from the city.  Altogether, It turned out to be an awesome day.
And guess what?  We made the news!!!

My time here in Korea is all coming to an end quite quickly.  I have less than three weeks left and it has me feeling all sorts of ways.  On the one hand, I've felt more and more connected to this place - my friends, my church, and the city - in the recent weeks.  I've always been aware that I'm having the time of my life out here.  But on the other hand, I'm so ready to be finished at Poly school.  And I'm really excited to be with my family again and also to visit friends in North America.  So it's hard for me to organize my feelings into sentences, but life is full of change which always comes with it's goods and bands.

Thanks for reading,