May 2, 2010

May 10, 2010 - Leave a Response

The Rotary District 6930 Annual Conference is upon us at the beautiful Hutchinson Island Resort in Stuart, FL.  This is the culmination of the GSE experience for both Teams- from East and West.  It is a joyous occasion to hear Rotary service celebrated, but the time is also melancholic knowing that goodbyes are inevitable. 

Krista is fashionable in Rotary flair

Krista is fashionable in Rotary flair

While at the conference, we hear from Space Shuttle Astronaut Jon McBride at the Model Club luncheon, hosted by Indialantic

Jon McBride was chase pilot for the maiden voyage of Columbia in 1981

Jon McBride was chase pilot for the maiden voyage of Columbia in 1981

Following lunch, JB Roberts, founder and chairman of Hunger Plus– a Rotary-supported service organization, speaks to the assembly on the successes of Hunger Plus outreach in Nicaragua.  Their mission to eradicate poverty answers an immense worldwide need and relies on the dedicated funding and volunteerism of active Rotarians.  Partnering with Habitat for Humanity and Heifer International, Hunger Plus is able to develop sustainable communities in the place of desperation and aimlessness.

We also learn about the Rotary’s international studies programs.  Many young people across the globe are afforded a wonderful opportunity to learn more about life and culture abroad because of Rotary’s generosity and aim for goodwill and peace. 

It is then a unique circumstance to observe the Distrct 3690 GSE Team present in traditional hanbok to the conference attendees.  Team Leader, Deok In Lee, and team members, Kyung-Nyeo Cho, Eun-Mi Jang, Youn-Woo Lee, and Ki-Sook Son give a very emotional, and very well-spoken, reflection on their GSE experience while in the United States.

District 3690 GSE Team presents

District 3690 GSE Team presents

The GSE Team from Florida shares in expressing a deep gratitude for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Rotary provided to visit Korea and forge new friendships across the globe.

Ryan, Carey, Krista, and Ana tell of great memories

Ryan, Carey, Krista, and Ana tell of great memories

It is a truly heartfelt exchange.  District 6930 GSE Team leader Denny Meneghelli is greatly missed while she remains abroad in SE Asia.  Many words of thanks are passed to GSE Chair Bill Pearl and District Governor Leo Phillips for their support and assistance throughout the exchange.

District 6930 GSE Team with Governor Leo Phillips and GSE Chair Bill Pearl

District 6930 GSE Team with Governor Leo Phillips and GSE Chair Bill Pearl

GSE team members bid farewell

GSE team members bid farewell

Many promises were made to keep in touch and maintain the ties of friendship across peninsulas and oceans.  Plans for reunions give hope that the GSE connections will remain true over the course of time.  Not arguable is the deeper understanding and wider world view that each GSE Team member has gained.  Chung mai kham sa hamnida!

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April 19, 2010

April 21, 2010 - Leave a Response

After 30 days, the team bids Korea and all it’s wonders farewell.  With new luggage filled to the brim, we are escorted to the airport for our departure.

Loaded down and ready to fly

Loaded down and ready to fly

 But, wait!  We can’t leave until we have one last traditional Korean meal for lunch!

Our new friends (and barley water) will be greatly missed

Our new friends (and barley water) will be greatly missed

 Down one team member (Denny travels on with her husband, Barry, throughout Southeast Asia) Carey, Krista, Ryan and Ana make the 8,000 mile journey back to the US.

Happy to be homeward bound

Happy to be homeward bound

 Home safe and sound in the Sunshine State ahead of schedule,  we are happy to be back home, but saddened to part ways and see our adventure come to a close.  A journey of the heart and mind, our memories are the ties that will keep us connected forever.  

Flipping for Florida!

Flipping for Florida!

April 18, 2010

April 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

Our last full day in Korea, more shopping is in order to scratch off items from gift lists.  We take the subway for the first time, Bupyeong to Insadong, and stroll along the crowded street for some bargain hunting and special treasures.  

Monks offer non-tangible fulfillment

Monks offer non-tangible fulfillment

Last lunch of noodles

Last lunch of noodles

A suspicious man followed the team on the trek back to the subway

A suspicious man followed the team on the trek back to the subway

Our last supper at our Rotarian friend’s restuarant is a complete offering of all our favorite dishes, and more well wishes.

The best bulgogi yet

The best bulgogi yet

Chop chey, fish cakes, salad, crab, kimchi

Chop chey, fish cakes, salad, crab, kimchi

Language is no barrier to love

Language is no barrier to love

Big hands, big hearts

Big hands, big hearts

One last round in the singing room to keep the songs fresh

One last round in the singing room to keep the songs fresh

April 17, 2010

April 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

Today is the Rotary District 3690 Conference at the Bucheon Gymnasium.  The GSE Team is an honored guest at the full-scale production, complete with soundtrack and pyrotechnics. 

How do you say GSE in Korean? GSE!

How do you say GSE in Korean? GSE!

Many, many greetings were shared with the team and past Rotarian hosts- It was a very special encounter to reconnect with all the caring Rotarians that helped us along our journey and it was a nice chance to reaffirm all the unique connections we made on an individual basis. 

Rotary Assistant Governors and Friends to GSE

Rotary Assistant Governors and Friends to GSE

GSE Chair Elvis and the District 6930 Team

GSE Chair Elvis and the District 6930 Team

What could be a more fitting end to the formal ceremonies but a feast of beast!

American beef is the centerpiece

American beef is the centerpiece

Denny receives a very special remembrance from Mr. No

Denny receives a very special remembrance from Mr. No

Local hosts and leading Rotarians join the GSE Team in celebration

Local hosts and leading Rotarians join the GSE Team in celebration

(You have probably guessed that there was some more noribahng to follow.)

April 16, 2010

April 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

WOW!  A REAL REST DAY!  Finally, the team has a day with no scheduled appointments and an opportunity to do absolutely nothing.  Denny did just that, staying at the comfortable Hotel Charis to catch up on sleep and notes, and took a leisurely stroll around a nearby park. 

 Though the thought of doing nothing was not a stretch for the other four, Ryan could not pass up an opportunity to play golf at one of very few Korean golf courses- A huge leap from the screen golf experience.  Be sure ask him about the robot caddy, and his swing! 

Ana, Carey and Krista could not say no to the offer of being pampered at a traditional Korean bath house/spa, known as a ‘jimjilbang.’  At the jimjilbang, the ladies soaked in hot pools, had a full body scrub and hairwash before heading to the massage table and nail salon.  Our Rotarian guides were very kind to show us the ropes and were very gracious to treat with the spa services, lunch and snacks- A true delight and wonderful follow-up to living out of a suitcase, climbing in and out of vans, and sleeping on the floor!

The spa glow eminates from the modest jimjilbang cover-ups!

The spa glow eminates from the modest jimjilbang cover-ups!

All polished up

All polished up

Not being allowed to skip a meal, we share a bulgogi dinner with our fabulous Rotarian hosts from Incheon and end the night with nothing other than MORE NORIBAHNG!

It's peace and love around the bulgogi table

It's peace and love around the bulgogi table

The star performers

The star performers

Another successful food and song fest shared by friends

Another successful food and song fest shared by friends

April 15, 2010

April 18, 2010 - Leave a Response

This morning we thank our homestay hosts for their generosity and kindness and wish the four generations a very happy future.

Eggie (Baby) Jung-Min with Great-Grandmother at Chunbok homestay

Eggie (Baby) Jung-Min with Great-Grandmother at Chunbok homestay

Still in Yeoncheon, local Rotarians share their community treasures with the team and arrange for a visit at the Jeongok-ri Paleolithic park and dig site.  Considered one of the largest archeological discoveries on the Korean peninsula, the site was found by US soldier Greg Bowen in 1978 and revealed Acheulean type hand axes dating back to 100,000 years ago.

Jeongok-ri is a significant archaelogical speciman

Jeongok-ri is a significant archaelogical speciman

Excavation explained

Excavation explained

Denny and Ana learn about prehistoric life in 3-D

Denny and Ana learn about prehistoric life in 3-D

Ryan is mighty hunter

Ryan is mighty hunter

Carey and Krista saddle up

Carey and Krista saddle up

It's a field trip to the Paleolithic park!

It's a field trip to the Paleolithic park!

 The gorgeous weather continues as we journey through the mountains and stop for a delicious organic meal at Bulkobong, overlooking a reservoir in Pocheon.  The restaurant and coffee shop building is over 100 years old and was reconstructed after being moved from Seoul.  We are pleased to discover this treasure in the trees for a midday stop.

Mountain view

Mountain view

Fresh food

Fresh food

Friendly faces

Friendly faces

Brunette latte

Carey and Ana thank the proprietor

Carey and Ana thank the proprietor

 Taking in more fresh air, the team spends several hours at the Korea National Arboretum, a splendid setting that is fit for a king.  Encompassing 4,000 acres, the makings of the forest were laid-in in 1468 to surround the tomb of King Sejo, the 7th king of the Joean Dynasty.  It was preserved by the royal court until 1911 and was opened to the public in 1987.  The sprawling grounds include specialized gardens, forest museum, herbarium and seed bank, and a wildlife area that showcases Siberian Tigers (closed for the season).

Rotary GSE takes in fresh air at the Korea National Arboretum

Rotary GSE takes in fresh air at the Korea National Arboretum

A view of the early forest bloom

A view of the early forest bloom

 

Lovely pressed flower display

Lovely pressed flower display

Stunning polished tree root system

Stunning polished tree root system

Quiet stream awaiting spring color

Quiet stream awaiting spring color

After a quick swap of luggage in the parking lot, we are introduced to our new hosts from the Incheon area that will escort us back to the Charis Hotel, where we settle in on the Japanese-styled seventh floor.
Our home oh-so-far-away from home

Our home oh-so-far-away from home

April 14, 2010

April 17, 2010 - Leave a Response

Our Korean adventure came to a head today with a trip to the Kimchi Experience Museum in Yeoncheon!  Inside the kimchi pot-shaped building, the team learns more about the 3,000 year tradition of kimchi, Korea’s national food treasure, and sees what benefits it beholds.  Made with basic ingredients- cabbage, pepper, garlic, anchovy extract,and sugar, did you know:

  • kimchi fights cancer?
  • staves off avian flu because of lactic bacterium?
  • the pectin in kimchi is good for digestion?
  • kimchi controls cholesterol?
  • the pepper, garlic and cabbage used in kimchi naturally control weight?
Wonders abound inside the kimchi pot!

Wonders abound inside the kimchi pot!

A life without kimchi is unimaginable!

A life without kimchi is unimaginable!

 Finally, we follow along with hands-on instruction to make our own pots of kimchi.

Knives, aprons, and headwear are required equipment for making kimchi

Knives, aprons, and headwear are required equipment for making kimchi

The team shows off their kimchi creations

The team shows off their kimchi creations

Taking the kimchi lesson to the next level, the team is taken to a famous local kimchi factory, Chungsan Kimchi, where we are told that Korean President Lee’s favorite kimchi is from Chungsan.  Through large windows, we can see the assembly line process and are given the inside scoop on how kimchi is made.  Cabbage from local growers is washed five times and is soaked in salt water for 20 hours.  Then, it is thoroughly dried before being slathered in the red pepper paste, packaged, and refrigerated for 20 hours.  One hundred thirty employees work at Chungsan and make 20 to 40 tons of kimchi a day that sells for $4/kg to retail outlets.

Happy employees at Chungsan Kimchi unload local cabbage

Happy employees at Chungsan Kimchi unload local cabbage

 Knowing all there is to know about kimchi, the team is feeling a bit peckish and travels to nearby Dongducheon where we lunch at the Warrior Club on-base at USAG Casey.  Taking up 40% of the city’s land area, Camp Casey and Camp Hovey employs 6,000 US troops and serves as headquarters for US Army Warrior Taekwondo training.  Grand Master Mun-Ok Kim is our guide and gives us a tour of the camp facilities and a chance to see the troops training.  A native of Dungducheon, Grandmaster Kim is an 8th degree black belt and oversees the martial arts training of 18,000 troops throughout the US Army.  In October, Mr. Kim will will travel to the US with the demonstration team to show their expert skills. 

The GSE Team with Grandmaster Kim

The GSE Team with Grandmaster Kim

Sent off with a warm goodbye, we then head to a chilly walk through a local outdoor flea market to see a variety of vendors that sell foodstuffs and other drygoods.

Cooked silkworms are a treat on the street

Cooked silkworms are a treat on the street

Krista is the first to brave the worm

Krista is the first to brave the worm

Ryan second guesses his decision to try the silkworm

Ryan second guesses his decision to try the silkworm

Following the Euijungbu Rotary Club meeting, the team is treated to a duck dinner before heading out to another round of noribahng.

Krista doesn't duck at the chance to eat duck

Krista doesn't duck at the chance to eat duck

Carey and Ana boogie down at noribahng

Carey and Ana boogie down at noribahng

April 13, 2010

April 17, 2010 - Leave a Response
Packing up again, the team is dismayed to leave yet another gracious and hospitable homestay.  Making use of the noribahng equipment on the loaded bus, the team and Rotarian chaperones travel to visit the Spine and Joint Institute at Centum Hospital in Euijungbu where we meet specialist Dr. Kim.  Eleven resident physicians serve 2,500 patients per year and focus on genetic disorders and sensitive surgeries such as spinal tumor removal, scoliosis and spondylothesis– a rare condition Krista has managed since the age of 14. 

The Spine and Joint Institute on the 7th floor of Centum Hospital
The Spine and Joint Institute on the 7th floor of Centum Hospital

 Time again for lunch, the group dines at Eui Ga Ji Bahp Sang (Vegetable in the Hot Pot) restaurant, and the team is surprised with beautiful gifts of traditional-style jewlery boxes.

Our Rotarian friends lead the way around the lunch table

Our Rotarian friends lead the way around the lunch table

President Lim is pleased to present Ryan's gift

President Lim is pleased to present Ryan's gift

GSE and Lady Rotarians- So happy together

GSE and Lady Rotarians- So happy together

 The highlight of the day, a tour of a Rotarian-owned jimjilbang (spa) and a private concert at the cafe.  Everyone enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and camraderie during a private concert.

Relaxing by the pool, jimjilbang-style

Relaxing by the pool, jimjilbang-style

Ryan samples spa food- beer, ice cream, baked eggs

Ryan samples spa food- beer, ice cream, baked eggs

Ana works the crowd with a Latin number

Ana works the crowd with a Latin number

Waterpia is the place to be-ah!

Waterpia is the place to be-ah!

Moving on to the next area, the team rendezvous with Rotarians from the Yeoncheon area and samples the garlic pork selections at Assi Bossam restaurant.

The garlic pork lover's delight

The garlic pork lover's delight

A final stop at the local noribahng tires the team out for a good sleep at the new homestay in rural Chunbok.

The team's lovely countryside accommodations

The team's lovely countryside accommodations

April 12, 2010

April 17, 2010 - Leave a Response

Having some time to ourselves in the morning, Ana and Carey took a stroll around the local area and took in the mountain character.

A spirited group from the homestay breezed away to have a chicken lunch with local Rotarians at the Rotarian-owned Parl Mu Parl Jahn (Good Taste Good Dish) restaurant.

Chicken soup for the traveling soul

Chicken soup for the traveling soul

Five clubs represent from the Euijungbu/Namyangju areas

Five clubs represent from the Euijungbu/Namyangju areas

We go to Rotarian-owned Dilli Precision large format UV printer manufacturer next where we learn more about the company’s evolution from manufacturing abacuses in 1975 to CAD drafting equipment to large format printers such as the NEOPLUS UVP-1606(W), HP being their biggest competitor.  Dilli has sales representives worldwide, including Orlando, FL and is refinfing technology for printing on various substrates including wood, marble, and plastics.  The company is also making use of  lenticular (3-D) printing technology.

Rotary GSE at Dilli Precision

Rotary GSE at Dilli Precision

 From Dilli, the team and accompanying Rotarians travel to Hyoja High School for the third anniversary of the Rotary’s Interact youth program.  Many students were recognized for the leadership positions and were awarded educational scholarships.  The commitment and enthusiasm for the Interact program was evident in the supporting Rotarians, as well as the students.  We were honored to be a part of such a special celebration and were happy to join in the recognition of the outstanding student participants.

Rotary GSE supports the Hyoja High School INTERACT Club

Rotary GSE supports the Hyoja High School INTERACT Club

Sent off with the youthful exuberance of Hyoja’s students, the team meets up with other local Rotarians for a meal of side dishes galore at Bawhewa Sonamu (Rock and Pine Tree) restaurant.

Some of these dishes were found under a tree

Some of these dishes were found under a tree

April 11, 2010

April 15, 2010 - Leave a Response

A distinct sound of a wooden mallet tapping wakes the temple visitors before 4 am.  All are asked to quickly ready themselves for an incensed worship service at the temple.  Using the daily chants booklet provided with English translation, the team joins others in a low-volume recitation full of deep meaning.

May the sweet scent of our keeping the precepts, of our meditation, of our wisdom, of our liberation, and of the knowledge of our liberation–all this form a bright-shining, cloud-like pavilion, and may it pervade the whole universe, and thus do homage to the countless Buddhas, Dharmas, and Sanghas, in all of the ten directions.  Mantra of the incense offering:  om ba a ra to bi ya hum.”  -Yae-bul-mun, Homage to the three jewels 

Then, all participate in the 108 bows ritual, which is a concerted effort for the body and the spirit.

What’s the meaning of 108?  Six roots- eyes, ears, nose, tongue, mind, body.  Six senses- color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenonmena.  When we encounter each of these objects, first we either like them, dislike them, or neither like nor dislike them.  We enjoy good things, we suffer from bad things and we are indifferent to what we neither enjoy nor suffer from.  So when the 6 roots encounter the 6 sense objects, we feel either like, dislike, indifference, suffering, enjoyment or rejection.  Multiplying 6 roots times 6 sense objects we come up with 36 afflictions.  And since the 36 afflictions appear in the past, present, and future, we multiply 36 times 3 to come up with 108 afflictions.”  -Templestay literature

Before starting a seated meditation, the group walks the temple grounds and surrounding areas to stretch their legs and thier minds.  Sounds of woodpeckers and morning bird calls fill the air while a chill is felt from the mist-covered peaks.  Our senses are heightened when we begin the meditation, giving us an opportunity to achieve Zen. 

Thirty minutes later, we emerge with a clear and tranquil disposition and ready to eat breakfast.  The morning meal at the temple is very disciplined, taking care to avoid a rush and foster an appreciation of the nourishment.  No food is wasted as you only take what you are able to eat and the dishes are carefully washed with no rubbish left behind.

The Templestay breakfast spread

The Templestay breakfast spread

 A formal tea service followed a brief intermission from the morning activities where it is explained that the ritual of drinking green tea engages all 6 roots and senses and helps to achieve clarity and relieve worry, according to the Buddhist doctrine.  This conversational seating gives the team a chance to share their experiences and reflect on past events before departing.

The headmaster shows us the way of tea

The headmaster shows us the way of tea

The enlightened GSE Team

The enlightened GSE Team

Bidding farewell to  Heungguksa Temple, the team heads to a new area, Euijungbo, to meet the local Rotarians and share lunch at the Venice Family Buffet.

A very warm reception from the Euijungbo Rotarians

A very warm reception from the Euijungbo Rotarians

Denny receives a special gift

Denny receives a special gift

A fine selection of traditional Korean fare

A fine selection of traditional Korean fare

 Onward we roll to our next homestay in Namyungjun with the very gracious President Lim of the local ladies  Rotary Club where we are promised some downtime to recharge our batteries for the last leg of our journey.

Madam President Im's lovely mountain villa

Madam President Im's lovely mountain villa