A few weeks ago, I was surprised! I got a phone call from Russia. They were inviting me to come and see something they were going to do here in Seoul called “Asian Road Show.” I had seen them on Facebook, and If I remember correctly, what I saw on Facebook said the Russian government was coming to Korea to promote Russian culture. They had a picture of some Russian folk dancers, so I thought maybe what I was going to see was Russian folk dancers, but I learned today, that wasn’t what they were inviting me to see. I was very appreciative for the invitation because from what I read, only special people were being invited because the seating was limited. They sent me an email with the address of where they would be and the time. Then, they contacted me again last night by phone to remind me to come today. I appreciated it because my life is so cluttered lately, I might have forgotten. When I went today, my impression of what I might see and what I saw was two different things. They were actually inviting the people who read my blog through me to come and see St. Petersburg, Russia.
My son in law is very adventurous, and he was interested, so he went with me this morning because he didn’t have to go to work until the afternoon. It was at the Le Meridian Hotel in Gangnam, the richest area of Seoul. They told us to be there by 9:30. My daughter helped us last night to get the address put into the GPS, so we didn’t get lost. We went right to the hotel. We saw some pretty Christmas decorations as we were walking through the halls looking for the Russians. When we saw the Russians, my son in law said, “Oh, I am a foreigner in my own country.” However, many of the other gusest were Korean. Some were from travel agencies and others were probably representatives from the Korean government as far as I could tell.
After we registered, we were told to go and have some coffee or tea and cookies with the others. We went into a room and my son in law had coffee and cookies, and I had mint tea. They had Sweet and Low to put in the tea. I couldn’t believe it! Haven’t seen Sweet and Low since I came to Korea. I wondered if the Korean hotel supplied it or the Russians, but I didn’t know. A Korean couple was very gracious and invited us to share their table. They could both speak English well, and they were from the KOTFA travel agency here in Korea. They gave me their card, so if you are interested in talking to them, let me know. I have their contact information. After that, it was time to go into the other room.
The other room was two rooms that had a divider that was pulled back so more people would fit. There were several chairs and two big movie screens, no Russian dancers, shucks! They had invited me there to tell me all about St. Petersburg site seeing opportunities, hotels, and transportation. However, they made a mistake. When they called me, they spoke all in English. The advertisement I saw and all the communication with me was in English, but there was nothing in English. There were several speakers who all spoke only Russian. They had Korean translators who were behind a divider from where I was, and my Korean just wasn’t good enough to get everything. My Korean lacks vocabulary even though they get the impression I can do more because my grammar is advanced and my pronunciation is good. Korean grammar and English grammar are just so different that for every situation, I need to study vocabulary before I begin using Korean in that situation. It isn’t like Spanish, French, Italian, or Romanian where you just mispronounce some more complicated words in English and come up with words in those languages. My vocabulary is limited in Korean. Mostly, I have studied vocabulary so that I can teach grammar in Korean and understand things at church. Those are my two major fields. Their Korean translators lost me.
(From what I could understand, the first guy on the second row down was from the Russsian government, the ministry of culture.)
There were several speakers, some of them were Russian travel agents, and some of them were representatives from the Russian government. Since I didn’t quite get what was going on, when it was all over, I thought if I, at least, knew exactly who all the speakers were, so I asked for a list of the speakers, but they didn’t have one. However, they showed me into a room where there were tables with several people’s names on them saying they had been speakers, and I got some names there. The names in the room were:
Kozhanova, Anna, the head of the Information Department, St. Petersburg, Tourist Information Bureau
Kondrateva, Eugenia, General Director, Road Tour
Smirnova, Daria, Manager of Incoming Tourism, Rossi Tour
Gusarova, Natalia, General Director, Saimaan Likenne
Vislin, Mikail, Head of Asia Incoming Streams, TUI
Shaulova, Irina, Operations Supervisor, TUI
Kim, Yeo Yeong, Sales Manager (Korean branch), S7 Airlines
Usov, Mikail, Branch Director, S7 Airlines
I know one of the speakers, at least, was a representative of the Russian government, but I am not sure his name is here.
Some of them only spoke, and some of them showed videos or slide presentations. The pictures were interesting. They were pictures all around St. Petersburg, presentations about the Travel Bureau in St. Petersburg, a presentation about a travel agency, and a presentation about the different kinds of transportation including the airlines connecting to St. Petersburg and showing that Valdislovok, Russia isn’t that far from Korea. They talked about St. Petersburg being a multicultural city, and then they proceeded to show a Catholic church, a synagogue, a mosque, and a Buddhist temple. To me, that isn’t what multi cultural means, but they were beautiful buildings. I took some pictures from time to time of the slides they were showing for you to see.
I also took some random pictures from the guide book they gave me to show you what was in it.
After the presentation today, they gave out door prizes that were Russian souvenirs, and then there was a break. They were going to have a workshop after that saying we could meet the delegates, and then a small lunch. My son in law needed to leave to go to work, and I didn’t think it was all that important for me to meet the delegates, not even the ones representing the Russian government. I wasn’t planning a tour for anyone, and I have met enough government officials in my life. In my travels, I have met and had conversations with many, many ambassadors and consulates. The American ambassador in Romania used to come to Sibiu to the university where I taught, and he liked to pull me aside and ask me about how the Romanian people were doing economically, etc. I thought he was a really smart man keeping tabs on what was going on in Romania by talking to people who could speak to him in English and explain things in the country to him. I also met many ambassadors from other countries in the rector’s office at the university because the rector used me as a kind of hostess for the university. We even had Prince Charles from England come once, and the security was really tight, the streets were crowded, and when the other professors didn’t always want to meet the other government representatives or were too shy to talk to them, they all wanted to see Prince Charles, but I disagreed. I chose to let them all meet Prince Charles and went home. Personally, I didn’t like him, so I didn’t want to meet him, and the English ambassador had approached me in a way I didn’t like either, so I decided to go home. I only saw the back of Prince Charles’ head as I walked away. I actually like the British Royal Family, but not him. Here in Korea, there have been several Romanian ambassadors since I have come, and one invited me to come and sit outside in front of the embassy one day and just have a conversation about Romanians in Korea. He was thrilled to death because he had heard that I could speak Romanian, so he wanted to talk to me. I won’t talk about all the government officials I have met, but those are a few. I just didn’t feel the need today to talk to more government officials. I think my son in law was surprised because he would have stayed and visited had he not had to go to work. I left with him and went home and took a nap because I hadn’t slept well last night.
They invited me today so I could tell you about what they were doing. They want to invite everyone to come and see St. Petersburg. If you are a sports fan, there are big games coming. If you are a ballet fan, everyone knows about the Russian ballet. There are many interesting things to see and do if you have time, interest, and money.