Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Trip to Korea (October 2012)

I have.just realized that I have not posted my trip to Korea in October 2012.

Here is a quick recap.

During my trip, I spent time with my parents. My father is almost 90 and has started showing early symptoms of Alzeimer's disease. It was the primary purpose of the trip. It was good to spend time with them doing nothing else for a few days. It happened to be Korea's Full Moon Festival (Chuseok) celebrating the eighth full moon of the Lunar Year. Family members gathered together over dinner. Minja and her husband, Minsook and her husband. They also brought one of their children. We had a breakfast together with Mintae. But I have not seen his family for a while.

I also saw some friends. Pyung Koo, Eui Ryong, (College) Chan Joong, Yoonduck, Namhyun, Jinbae, Gwangseop, Junghoon, Yongku, other Agape Club seniors, (Agape Club), Joonhan, Changho (High school). I also saw Changho Lee. (COPION) and three 10-year younger college alumni: Myungjae Moon, Dowoon Lee and Heon Lee. Heon Lee had been Korea's Acting Ambassador in Rwanda, setting up the Embassy. I also saw Jun Kim, his wife and their son, Dongmin (Phillip). Jun's wife has accepted Jesus as her Savior and it was great joy to talk to her about our faith. It is always joyous to see long-time friends.

I also got together with ministry partners. DongWha Kim (GMF CEO) and Matthew Jung (Former InterServe CEO). We were involved together in Integral Mission Alliance (IMA). It is a great encouragement to see God using them for His purposes in various capacities. I also met Rev. Dongho Kim, CEO for Merry Year Foundation and Chairman of God's Will Church Network. It was our first time meeting after several exchanges of correspondences. UOB has an MOU with MYI, MYF's international development arm. Rev. Bumseok Kim, Secretary General was also in attendance.

I had a chance to visit Handong Global University in Pohang. It is a Christian university that is boldly displaying Handong God's University on its main building facade. I have a lecture to 120 or so students about Christian microfinance. I also had an opportunity to meet the President Dr. Young Gil Kim, the founder of the university, and several other professors. It is a small campus but I felt cozy and warm on campus. I had pleasant surprises in bumping into Dr. Young Girl Kim, also a member of IMA, who was there for a class. Because of this encounter, I had to pledge to teach at Institute for Biblical Community Development (IBCD) next year. I am going to teach two classes: Good Steward's Financial Management and Holistic Christian Microfinance. Also I bumped into Mr. Yong Lee and his wife Kay Lee. Our relationships go back to 1980's in California and 1990's in Colorado.

I also had reunion with Shalom Bible Study alumni. There were eight who came to see me for lunch. Anna Yoon, Min-Jung Kim (who traveled all the way from Busan.), Jihun Nah, Sangmin Han, Yurim Shim, Saangkeub Lee, Isaac Baik and Hyosu Yu. It was great joy of all. I prayed that they will continue living a life worthy of His calling.

Unfortunately I lost my digital camera and I do not have many photos, except a few that I have recently received. Here they are. - Jeffrey  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trip to Zanzibar... (October/November 2012)

Zanzibar is an island, currently part of Tanzania. I have been there before, but I did not stay at the beach last time.

This time, we stayed at a resort on the eastern part of Zanzibar: Melia. Opportunity International Africa/Eastern Europe CEO Conference took place here and it was a golden opportunity for Kristin and me to revisit Zanzibar.

Moreover, we were given a free upgrade to a bungalow that was located right at the beach overlooking the Jetty Lounge, a twin hut over the water off the shore. A beautiful setting. Normally it is for a couple in honeymoon. So it was a great treat for us.

We did not do much because Kristin got sick and was bed-ridden for most of our three night stay. But we explored Melia's private beach and walked around the Jetty Lounge. Foods were fantastic and delicious. The quality of sand at the beach was not as fine and white as the one we previous visited, but the emerald color water, due to the barrier reef far out into the ocean thus making the beach water pretty shallow, was the same.

It was a wonderful break and treat for us. Unfortunately I lost my digital camera and the computer that had all the photos at the same time. So my photos are limited to those which I posted on the Facebook. - Jeffrey

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Seven Habits of Effective Travelers

This post has been borrowed from "Uncornered Market."

When people hear that we’ve been traveling around the world, they often imagine the two of us relaxing on a beach, drinking mai tais and reclining under flaming tiki torches.
In reality, it’s no wonder that the word “travel” is derived from the French wordtravail meaning “to work hard, to toil.” While we may occasionally indulge in beachside cocktails here and there, our days are typically filled with on-the-fly problem solving in ever-changing contexts: finding decent places to sleep, negotiating safe transport, and keeping ourselves well and well-fed so that we may focus on understanding the places we visit and the people we meet.
But this makes independent travel sound like something of an exercise in endurance. Much more than that, it facilitates the development and sharpening of a rather specific set of life skills that not only come in handy on the road but also translate in the real world (you know, the place where tiki torches are replaced by fluorescent track lights).
In no particular order:
1. Seek First to Adapt, Then to Complain (a.k.a., Adaptability) – Living outside your comfort zone becomes the norm on the road. New environments provide different challenges; what worked in the last country may not work in the next. All that stuff you became accustomed to just last week? Forget about it. Independent travel forces you to continually size up each situation and adapt accordingly. Your resulting experience depends on it. Sometimes your life may, too.
We’re reminded of: When we (two American non-Muslims) were presented with a steaming bowl of goat bits at a feast to break the Ramadan fast in Kyrgyzstan, we joined in by reluctantly chewing on a jaw bone.
2. Plan With Multiple Outcomes in Mind (a.k.a, Planning) – Determine which variables are most important to you (e.g., comfort, cost, risk, time), do your planning, and optimize accordingly. In doing so, you create not only Plans A and B, but also Plans C and D, too. In the end, circumstances force you to a hastily crafted Plan E, which you later realize may have been the best plan all along.
Mapping the Pamirs
We’re reminded of: When a Chinese train station attendant informs us that the train no longer runs to our next destination, we don’t force it. We find another one…and stumble upon a Tibetan opera festival.
3. Work a way in. Leave a way out. (a.k.a., Problem Solving) – Independent travel presents myriad problems to solve, from the mundane (how to find your way to the bus station) to the critical (whether taking that bus will present personal danger). Strikes close transport routes, hotels fill up, and conflicting information confounds. The constant challenge: work your way into the circumstances you want, while continuously leaving room for an exit strategy should the ground shift under your feet.
We’re reminded of: When the land border crossing from Uzbekistan into Kazakhstan engulfed us in a sea of humanity. We used not only our physical strength but also our wit to find a way out, barely.
4. Find the Common Ground (a.k.a., Negotiation and Compromise) – As in life, fruitful travel experiences depend often on seeking an outcome where all involved are reasonably satisfied and feel that they have been respected in the process. And we are not just talking about agreeing on the right price for your hotel room or compromising with your travel buddies about which bar to go to. Win-win relates to the larger issues of negotiating common space where prevailing cultural norms and standards may be at odds with your own.
We’re reminded of: In the hills of Svaneti, Georgia, our host family shares their emotions, we share their sorrow. Then we find a graceful exit.
5. Tune In, Filter Often (a.k.a., Observation and Perception) – Seek out the signal while filtering out the noise, particularly in order to fully appreciate what it is that you’ve come to see: the culture, the people, the country. And while you keep your eyes wide open to all that is new around you, also keep in mind that wide-eyed perception is well-served when paired with a finely-tuned bullshit detector.
We’re reminded of: In the middle of the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, two Tajik soldiers train their Kalashnikov rifles on us and ask for our documents. We formulate an excuse to return to the view of our driver and jeep.
6. Have Less, Do More (a.k.a., Resourcefulness) – Develop an ability to very quickly uncover relevant sources, glean meaningful data and assimilate it. Information can be found everywhere – from local people on the street to other travelers to quick searches on the internet. But the trick to finding the golden nuggets: remain open to the right people while sifting out the shills and the under-informed.
We’re reminded of: Our goal: hiking in Nepal’s Himalayas without breaking the bank. We were astounded by the prices we were quoted initially (in the $1000s of dollars) for this trip-of-a-lifetime trek for which we eventually paid about $500. How? We performed some online and on-the-ground research, talked to everyone we met who completed the trek, and triangulated our data. The result: we took the same trek as supermodel Gemma Ward.
7. Find a Common Language, Create One if You Must (a.k.a., Communication) – Interacting with people is arguably the most rewarding part of travel. It can also be the most exhausting. Having to frequently adjust to different cultures and languages takes both skill and energy. Leverage your non-verbal and verbal communication skills in order to build bridges of trust and worthwhile relationships.
Conversations on the Street
We’re reminded of: Breaking down language barriers in China’s poorest provincethrough non-verbal communication and enjoying lunch with locals.
Should a prospective client or employer ever ask “What good have all your travels done for you?” you’ll be able to connect the dots between your travel experiences and your personal and professional growth.
And think: this list is simply the beginning. After all, we couldn’t really have called it “Top Ten Habits,” could we? It just wouldn’t have had the same ring.
Thanks to Stephen Covey for his original 7 Habits, and for helping us to keep our lists short.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oxford in Spires... (September 2012)

Oxford in Spires...

Queens College Courtyard
Kristin and I have come to Oxford, England to attend the Opportunity International Network Global Leadership Conference that is scheduled to take place from September 10-12, 2012. We came a couple of days earlier to catch up with the Mas, the previous blog post, and to tour Oxford, the city of "dream spires."

Oxford is in spires and also inspires.

In England, there are two oldest universities: Oxford and Cambridge. Collectively they are called Oxbridge. University is relatively a new concept to them because in olden days there were only federations of colleges. Colleges are independent legal entities, employing their own staff, owning their own buildings, managing their own endowments and hiring their own staff. The central university only administers and coordinates among colleges.
Schulman Auditorium

Oxford University has 30 colleges and 12 permanent halls. Some are better known than others. In total, Oxford University has approximately 16,000 students, including 5,000 graduate students pursuing higher degrees.

Today, September 8th, Kristin and I had a tour of Oxford, visiting some of the colleges. Fortunately, today happens to be an "Oxford Open Day" that allows tourists to visit some of the college buildings for free. We visited Queens College, New College and Magdalene College.

Inside Queens College
Queens College from High St.
Queens College opened its chapel and auditorium. The alley towards the auditorium was very romantic with two rock-built walls leading to the auditorium. Before entering the auditorium, there was a small courtyard that had a big tree, meticulously maintained grasses and a few benches. It was so cozy and soothing. I felt I could study well in such an environment. The auditorium was built with wooden panels. It was not so big but it appealed to me strongly to make me feel like lecturing to students there.

Students after Final Exam
Trinity College
New College is the newest college of Oxford University, but it celebrated its 600th anniversary recently. So other colleges are 800-900 years old. New College has become famous after Harry Porter's movie filed dining hall scenes at New College's Dining Hall. What appeared in the movie looked a lot bigger and more grand than the reality, but it was still pretty sizable. Its campuses, buildings, meadows and walking trails were all meticulous and romantic.

Sheldonian Theater
New College from Courtyard
Magdalene (pronounced Moh-dlene in old English) College is the home for famous scholars, such as C.S. Lewis and Oscar Wilde. I could not find any external evidence for C.S. Lewis' teaching there. I was told that one of the walking trail rest spots has one of his poems by the bench, but I learned about it after I have come out of the trail. Its courtyards were maintained with excellence. Clean and beautiful. The walls and floors in the corridors have been worn out due to the age, but such worn out parts looked rustic and classic.
New College Dining Hall
New College

We also toured other parts of the city, such as Martyrs Memorial, High Street, Broad Street, The Covered Market, Sheldonian Theater, Trinity College, Examination Schools, Blackwell Bookstore etc.

Sheldonian Theater is where all University official events take place, such as welcoming ceremony to new comers and graduation ceremony. There was a wedding ceremony in the back of the theater.
New College
Magdalene College
Examination Schools building is the most feared building for all students. As a tradition, all students who are taking the final exam must be wearing black suits, white shirts, white bow ties and gowns. Today, there were students who must have taken the final exams. Many students were coming out of the building in such outfits. I am sure they felt relieved from the finished final exam and proud to be part of Oxford tradition at the same time.

Magdalene College
Wonsuk and Julie Ma at Christ Church

Oxford is a city of "dream spires" and is a city in spires. Indeed it inspires.

Wonsuk and Julie Ma
While in Oxford, we had a joyous reunion with Wonsuk and Julie Ma. They served as missionaries in the Philippines for two decades until they were called to serve at Oxford Center for Mission Studies. Both are faculty members, primarily working as Research Tutors, but Wonsuk is also Executive Director. We served the same church in Los Angeles, namely Emmanuel Mission Church while they were study in the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. The reunion in twenty some years was a great joy. - Jeffrey

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Turin (Torino) Italy (July 2012)

I stayed in Turin, Italy for three weeks in July 2012. The purpose of the stay was to attend the 18th Boulder Institute of Microfinance course held at International Training Center of International Labor Organization of the United Nations located in Turin.

During this trip, I had an excursion to Montecarlo, Monaco and Nice, France. It was covered in another blog post.

On July 29th, Sunday, I took the city sightseeing tours on the hop-on, hop-off buses. Turin has two lines and I was able to get on both of them on one day.

The following are my observations on Turin:

  • Turin used to be the capital of the Savoy family, Italia's original power.
  • Turin used to be an icon of Italy's industrialization represented by Fiat.
  • Turin held the 2006 Winter Olympics, putting its name in the international market.
  • Turin is famous for the Shroud of Turin, which is supposed to be the cloth that was used to wrap up the body of Jesus Christ. It is preserved in a glass casket that is stored somewhere in Turin's Duomo.
  • Turin has the longest river, called Po River that provides pleasant scenery and hiking trails.
  • Turin has plenty of Baroque-style buildings that provide classic looks and pleasant appeals.
  • Turin is one of the greenest cities in Italy with a lot of parks and hiking trails.
  • Turin has access to the Alps within one-hour drive.
  • Turin has also access to Montecarlo and Nice within 3-4 hour driving distance.
  • Turin has more than 20 museums that attract the interests of diverse people.
  • Turin is the capital of contemporary arts in Italy.
  • Turin is the home town for long break sticks. 

Definitely it is one of the cities that I would like to live even for a short period of time. - Jeffrey