Final Thoughts…

As I sit here in Denver, just 2 shorts weeks after having returned from Pyeongchang, I’m still in awe of my experience! It seems like forever ago that we were all together as a team…Antonio, Sunny, Souvik, Stephanie, Justin and Ji-Hyun…my new friends!

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I can’t help but remember all the amazing experiences we shared with each other and with our lifelong friends in Pyeongchang. Such an amazing and life changing journey! From day 1 when we met at a rest stop in the middle of Korea, heading east on the Yeongdong Expressway, to our final goodbyes in Seoul before we all ventured back to our homes…every moment was special…every moment will stay with me until we meet again….

Thank you to Pyeongchang for giving us this unique opportunity. Thank you to IBM for bringing us all together to make an impact. Thank you to my husband for letting me leave you alone for 3+ weeks with our two children (under 5) to let me go on this journey.

Thank you Sunny for your smiles.

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Thank you Justin for your stories.

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Thank you Antonio for your humility.

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Thank you Souvik for your knowledge.

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Thank you Stephanie for your leadership.

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Thank you Ji-Hyun for your laughter.

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It’s impossible to highlight everything from our experience, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from our journey…

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Life is an HSR

Life is an HSR. (click on the link to view whole text)

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by | April 30, 2015 · 2:56 am

Life is an HSR

When I reached a point 69.375 meters away from the top, I felt like licking the sweat which soaked me. I was thirsty but the snow around me looked dirty. Soil under my feet was slippery and the oxygen bit less than what my lungs expected. My muscles denied any more climbing because the path in front looked steeper than they were agreeable to. But the thoughts of the CEO of Herbnara in Pyeongchang kept me going. A founding member of Samsung, he decided to settle in the small county of Pyeongchang and do farming. But his immensely beautiful farm was devastated twice by the otherwise timid Pyeongchang river and on every occasion he came back stronger than before. We witnessed the Herbnara farm in its current form – a potpourri of the brightest flowers and herbs I have seen for long. The colourful facade of the farm hides the painful history behind it. Besides the flamboyance of the flora, a hidden trove within the Herbnara farm was the gallery dedicated to the memories of how Turkey helped Korea during the Korean war. He also paid his respect to Japan, where he learnt the virtues of profitable community work. Ask the government for support, but get it done yourself … we felt infected by his motto. He also acknowledged the power of Ayurveda, which made me feel proud.

The following photos try to capture the beauty of Herbnara farm. If they fail, it’s a failure of myself as a photographer and not of Herbnara.

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When I dragged my body to the top, I ran out of my breath, but felt happy my fragile body could do something, which seemed impossible minutes back. When I got back my breath, I was so relieved that my troubles seemed so far away. As I started climbing down, I realized that the troubles had just begun. The melting snow made the descent real tricky. I slipped, tumbled, fumbled – the same fate I experienced whenever I tried to converse in Korean. Then there was this uncompromising thorn which marched right through my thick shoe and woollen socks and struck my toe forcing a loud ouch. I climbed the height on two other days after that too, but this time following a more amicable path through a greener turf.

The photo was taken when I was breathless on top of Pyeonghang!

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But this trip to Korea put my ever aching body to more tests. I crouched through narrow openings created by standing stalagmites and hanging stalactites inside a natural limestone cave. Crouching would be an understatement. Literally I pulled my torso on my elbows through those slits like many of the Westerns where the thespian struggles along the ground after being shot. During several such Indiana Jones moments, my back remained obedient and ensured that the low hanging cave roof did not bruise my spine. Can’t extol the obedience of my head, though. It hit the low ceiling several times and left red marks on the pointed edges of the stalactites. Before you start thinking that this blog is getting bloody gory, let me admit that the red marks belonged to my red helmet and not to the liquid that flows through my veins and arteries. Our guide showed that many of my predecessor explorers signed the edges with their red letter too.

The team with one of the iconic stalagmites inside the cave:

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The trip to the sheep farm, or should I say the wind farm, was bit testing too. The windiest place I have ever visited after Cape of Good Hope.

A sheep at the sheep farm (did you expect a tiger?). The picture does not show the wind, of course.

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But the most difficult test was the Korean breakfast, lunch and dinner. A supreme exercise of the mandibles. A wave of food items would go on hitting you one after another and you would be left guessing when did the course start and when it ended. A variety of Kimchis, sashimis, meat, soups, salads, leaves, garlic, pepper, rice or noddles or both would be served with utmost care. The Korean cuisine combined with the courtesy deserves thousand bows. But I would not put my body to that suicidal test. When we finished off such a sumptuous dinner in Seoul, I was sure of left snoring at the theatre, which was planned as our last team activity. But the traditional Korean opera combined with modern narrative and extravagance was such entertaining, that there was not a single dull moment to allow me snoring. The colourful dresses, the enviable exuberance of youthful actors and the mind blowing drumbeats was a perfect parting gift from Ji-Hyun and Sunny.

50% of a typical Korean meal.

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At the end of the three weeks at Pyeongchang, I can only say that life is an HSR. I did not know what the acronym stood for before joining this project. Many of my friends, who have an HSR in their country were not aware of the acronym too. So I can be forgiven. So as readers of this blog, who are still guessing what an HSR is. HSR stands for High Speed Rail, the sharp-nosed iron reptile that has changed the fortunes of many countries either way. Seven of us started as strangers on a mission to help seventeen (?) other strangers to solve an enigma. Now, after three weeks of running together, we are a team of ten good friends – India, US, Korea, Canada, Spain all under an umbrella of camaraderie. The three weeks took us from one station to another like an HSR, till we all parted on 24th evening leaving some drops of tears on all eyes. Let’s accept the reality. Life is like hopping stations, some strangers would become friends, some friends would remain strangers, some friends would stay longer, some till the end, some would say goodbye even before time permits for a hallo … the Korean sojourn reminded me the story of life. Stepaaaani, Joyee Row, Mr. Natural in Nature, Mr. Mayor of Spain, Sunny, the Lady Boss, Mr. GinSeng-in-Alcohol-for-10-years, Mr. Drummer, Jangya Mr. Jang, “Mr Kim-Mr Park- Mr Lee” … we might never meet again … but your stories would remain with my family for generations.

One of the many moments that built the team.

11174972_910251052371767_5573758817901725736_nV2The Pyeongchang county marquee summarised the secret recipe of the team.

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It’s Time for Some Seoul!!

Today was my last full day in Korea and what a great day! It was actually the only day I’ve had since I’ve been here that I didn’t have a reason to be up at any particular time and I had nothing to do other than what I wanted to do…on my schedule. What an amazing feeling! Unfortunately it means that I’m no longer with the team…and our project is done, but sleeping in was SO NICE!!!

I woke to coffee. Which in my mind is a tremendous start to any day!

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I finally rolled out of my hotel room around 1 PM (and no I didn’t sleep that late…I just relaxed and enjoyed the break). I picked a good day to wander around Seoul. I stayed at The Plaza which is right in front of Seoul Plaza and is a prime tourist spot.

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Right outside my hotel I stumbled upon a theatrical display of “dogs” or “dragons” or something…well guys dressed up as dogans (haha). It was lots of fun watching them…especially as they hoisted a little boy on their backs and trotted around with him. The mom was a little unnerved…and I have to admit…it was a site to see.

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There was also a stunningly painted drum.

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After the display I walked my way down Sejong-daero to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

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What a beautiful palace…and if you close your eyes and plug your ears you can almost imagine what life would have been like some 700 years ago. The palace itself was built in 1395 and was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty.

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Cotswold enjoyed his time at the Palace and felt a little bit like royalty.

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The grounds really were stunning.

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Some of the locals were dressed in their “Sunday” best. I just love all the colors of the ensembles.

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Upon exiting the palace I stumbled across a most peculiar site…

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After my visit to the palace I strolled over to Bukchon Village. What a beautiful walk…and what an even more beautiful area. There were many locals out wandering, and lots of shops were bustling with traffic and good buys.

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Such beauty and on such a beautiful day!

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Somehow I always tend to find the dichotomy of the “old” buildings mixed in with the “21st” century.

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I came across a random garden/building/palace…I’m not really sure what it was but it sure was pretty. I wandered around aimlessly taking in all the beauty of this wonderful day.

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After 5 hours or so of strolling around I headed back to the hotel to meet Justin for dinner. One last hurrah before heading home.

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And when given our choice of Korean cuisine…we settled on Korean BBQ…shocker I know! Such yummy food. And what more could you ask for…Korean BBQ and somaek (a shot of soju and a chaser of maekju – beer). What a great ending to my 3-week Korean adventure. And wouldn’t you know it…we talked so much and were having so much fun…I forgot to take a picture. :-)

Upon the return to my hotel, The Plaza treated me like a VIP guest and left me wine and fruit to enjoy while Cotswold and I soaked in the tub (well Cotswold didn’t get in as he didn’t want to get his fur wet). I truly enjoyed one last bit of relaxation before the LONG trip home.

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Now to figure out how to pack all of this stuff in 3 bags. I knew when I came to Korea that I would be going home with a lot of things…gifts, chachkies, etc., but I never imagined I would go home with the lifelong memories and friendships I made. And I am SO grateful for that more than anything else!

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And with one last view of N Seoul Tower…

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As I get ready to embark on the long journey home…I am grateful for my time in this amazing country, to have met such wonderful people and to have the memories of all the great times we had together. With that I will say:

감사합니다

jeongmal gamsahamnida (thank you very much) and

안녕히 계세요

Anyoung hee gyeseyo, which means Goodbye “Please stay well”.

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Time to Say Goodbye!!

Today was our last day together as a team. I truly can’t capture in words all the things I was feeling today. To think…just 3 short weeks ago we were strangers…and now we’re friends…really good friends! It’s like we’ve known each other for years.

It truly is amazing how well you get to know each other when you spend every waking minute together. Even with all work we did, there was still time for “real” life discussions. And we had a lot of them…I equate it to those first few weeks of college, but for grown-ups. :-)

We’re all equals on this journey…no one knows one from the other and we all have to get to know each other…asking the basic questions like “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “How many kids do you have?” In 3 weeks we moved from the basics…to deep conversations. Conversations that you have over strolls through a mountain path, or quiet moments over dessert in the middle of the night (after you’ve been working hard all day), or chats and laughs over coffee in the woods. These are the moments I’ll remember most fondly. The closeness…the laughter…the tears…and there were many today.

I must say…the past couple of days have been a mix of excitement and anticipation…coupled with sadness. Excitement and anticipation for the final presentation of our project recommendations and for our final day in Seoul…and sadness for knowing it’s all about to end. Today was the first step towards our adventure coming to an end.

Don’t get me wrong…we had an AMAZING day!! As we met for breakfast bright and early…our journey at Phoenix Park ended where it all began…our last breakfast at the same table in Castle Pines restaurant where we had our first dinner together as a team.

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This time we dined with our new friends from Pyeongchang, Mr. Lee.

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And Mr. Jeon.

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We have all made a lasting impact on each other and it was apparent by our final interaction.

Mr. Jeon was the resident photographer during our trip. He graciously donated his photos to the creation of a photo book for all of us, documenting our journey. What a spectacular memento. Each of us signed the books…so we will always have a piece of each other and this amazing experience.

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Following breakfast we said our first round of goodbyes. I’ve become quite fond of our interpreters Juhee and Hayan. They are truly the sweetest, most hard working girls. They knew nothing of our project but dove right in, helping us interpret as well as doing research on our behalf and prepping us for our interviews and meetings. They took copious notes all along the way (of course it is part of the translation process) but we were able to leverage their work several times during our project. Saying goodbye to them was hard.

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I cried when I said goodbye to Mr. Lee. He’s an amazingly nice man, with a great sense of humor. We all enjoyed many a meal and many a drink together. He will be greatly missed.

The drive into Seoul allowed me to sit in the front seat. What a crazy experience that was. I’m so used to sitting in the back of the BatMobile with it’s tinted windows and ghetto party lights. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself up front…so I took photos.

The tunnels are unique…there are colored lights that I swear match the colors of Pyeongchang County and Happy700.

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There are of course the random trees and police vehicles. This one says “Stay awake while driving”…I’m guessing you won’t see if it you fall asleep behind the wheel.

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I must admit, once we left the comforts of Pyeongchang County it was almost like we were transported to another world. I didn’t realize how closed off we had been from the rest of the world and when we surfaced…on the highway…among the busy hustle and bustle of Seoul, reality set in. We were no longer in the quiet, calm peacefulness of Pyeongchang. I honestly didn’t realize how quiet and serene our lives have been the last three weeks…even with all of the hard work…we’ve been pretty sheltered from the rest of the world. We’ve been in our own little bubble, working hard, eating, sleeping and drinking in this entire project. I’ve barely turned on the TV and when I did it was only a handful of times and I usually ended up watching some cheesy American movie with Korean subtitles. I can honestly say I haven’t missed any of it!

Being back in the big city was a smack in the face of reality. It meant our journey was coming to an end and we have to go back to our real lives. :-)

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We were able to make the very best of our last day however. Our first stop took us to N (Namsan) Seoul Tower. The tower is located on Namsan Mountain, at 236m and is the highest point in Seoul.

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Prior to going up into the tower we took the cable car up to the base. I had to hold on to our concierges, Mr. Park and Mr. Lee.

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The place was packed. It’s Friday and there were a ton of school groups visiting. There are so many beautiful sites and attractions.

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There are quaint little attractions like locks all over the property. The “Locks of Love”, or so it is called, is a popular location for people to hang locks that symbolize eternal love.

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We took the elevator to the 5th floor where we dined at the N Grill, a French restaurant inside the tower. The restaurant rotates around the tower giving you a 365 degree view of Seoul.

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Ji-Hyun spoiled us yet again!! Guess it was worth it to starve ourselves a few evenings so we could enjoy an amazingly yummy lunch “around” the city of Seoul.

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Following lunch we headed to Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). DDP is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, it is a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings.

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It’s a pretty spectacular building. It was designed by world renowned architect, Zaha Hadid. The DDP is compromised of five halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. What an interesting place. We visited the Kansong Art Museum, where we viewed several works of art by Jeong Seon (1667-1759), one of the most famous Korean painters.

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The landscape paintings that he produced reflect most of the geographical features of Korea. My favorite was the ‘Panoramic View of Inner Pungak’. This painting draws a scenic view of Geumgansan Mountain and depicts yin and yang. I even picked up a copy to bring home.

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He painted the most amazing images on silk with ink colored by rocks. It seems most of his paintings have some hidden figure in them. Some of the stories about the paintings were pretty interesting…like the “high class female workers” (the real term used was altered for the under 18 audience) luring the men in for supper…this one is called Jukseoru. Interesting stuff!

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The neat thing about the museum is its shape as well as the design store held inside one of the buildings. It is here where local artisans display their goods for sale. I secured some great finds! :-)

Our next stop took us to Insadong. Insadong Street is one of the most memorable attractions in Seoul and represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. Stores in Insadong specialize in a wide variety of goods that can only be purchased or appreciated in Korea: hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery, and folk crafts. I picked up a few things here as well. :-)

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After a craze of shopping we were whisked into a back alley for dinner.

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HOLY COW…we literally had at least 17 different dishes…and I know I missed taking photos of a few of them. OYE!!

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Following dinner…and a food coma…we went to see Miso at the Jeongdong Theatre in Seoul. Miso means “beautiful smile” and is the #1 Korean traditional arts performance. It highlights Pansori (traditional Korean narrative song), Samulnori (traditional Korean percussion quartet) and the beautiful Korean Buchaechum (fan dance).

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The story of the show is of General who is quite the ladies man…fraught with infidelities. His friends (or maybe not such good friends) teach him a lesson by luring him into a trap to seduce a woman (who happens to be married). As he goes to her he is captured and put into a box where he is “tossed” into the ocean. Well he’s not really tossed in…he’s merely sprinkled with water and the box is thrown around to make it seem like he’s being tossed into the ocean. Needless to say the joke is on him as he repents and his friends eventually open the box bringing him back to reality. After the incident his friends throw him a great party…with lots of singing, dancing and big drums.   It’s a great show! The singing, the beautiful costumes, the grace with which the dancers frolic on the stage and the drums…oh my the DRUMS! It’s all a spectacle to be seen!!

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Then in typical IBM Pyeongchang team fashion we were famous yet again. After the show we were meandering about, watching everyone go crazy over the actors/dancers/singers who posed for a photo shoot, when Antonio and I were approached by a spritely gentleman asking if he could interview us. Well, it’s not like we haven’t had a ton of interviews in the past three weeks…we thought why not! This one was not quite the formal interview we were used to. The guy was dressed in quite the outfit…apparently he was putting together an advertisement for Korea for the Malaysian audience. I’d love to get my hands on that performance! Alas…it was a classic and the absolute perfect ending to our last day together as a team in Korea.

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Following the show we headed to my hotel…The Plaza…to say our goodbyes. BOO HOO! I knew this time was coming…and I’d been dreading it all day…and obviously the emotions had been on display all day…why not put them out there for the world to see. The goodbyes began…the hardest ones were the new friends I know I won’t see for a long time….Sunny…Ji-Hyun….Souvik. :-( I at least know I have a pretty good chance to see Justin (Vancouver) at some point in the near future as work takes me up that way from time to time….Stephanie (NJ) as I always head back east…and Antonio (Spain) as we may catch up in Europe sooner rather than later. Alas….I hate goodbyes!

It truly is amazing how close we’ve all become in just three short weeks. I’m going to miss everyone so incredibly much! It was all a dream and now we’re headed back to reality very soon. Until then…I have one more day in Seoul!!!

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It’s “That” Day!!

The day when you realize the project is about done…the day when you realize you’re no longer going to see your new friends every day of the week. The day when you realize it’s time to go home!

It’s bittersweet really! I’m ready to go home but I’m not ready to leave here. The last three weeks have been something I can’t truly describe…an experience…a journey…a life changing moment in time!

We will leave each other tomorrow evening following a fun filled day in Seoul. We will depart as we came…heading our separate ways…but we will take something with us…

We have all touched each other in some way…from heartfelt embraces, to laughter beyond measure…to frustration when we were all stressed, to excitement and pride after we delivered our final presentation to the Mayor and the County today.

We came here as 6 individuals…on a mission to improve tourism for Pyeongchang County…and we are leaving as partners, comrades…beloved friends! I will miss all of them completely!

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Antonio with his “goorggeous” accent. Justin with his crazy stories. Souvik with his knowledge and serenity. Stephanie with her calm composure and camaraderie. Sunny with her sweet smile and “sunny” disposition. And our fearless leader Ji-Hyun…with her determination, her dedication and her desperation to make us successful on this project. :-)

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I will miss all of you dearly! You have truly touched me and I will hold a special place for you in my heart forever!

Now on to our day today…we had our final presentation with the County. And it was a beautiful day for it!

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Pyeongchang welcomed us with open arms as they stated “Pyeongchang will never forget your passion.” They told us our passion for Pyeongchang and our passion for the success of this project were beyond measure. We were so touched by this.

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We shed blood, sweat and tears to come to this point. We interviewed over 60 people, we toiled for 3 weeks investigating and building recommendations, and we vetted and practiced our recommendations for days preparing for “this” day.

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We began at 9:00 AM with a warm welcome from the Mayor. Our presentation went off without a hitch (not that I’m surprised!). I struggled off and on all morning holding back tears. Every “thank you”, every warm speech, every toast held meaning and touched me…reminding me of what we have accomplished and the relationships we have built in such a short period of time.

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Our excellence was apparent when we came together as a team following our presentation and the first thing we did was hug each other. What an amazing feeling of satisfaction AND relief! We came all this way and we delivered! We put together the most amazing presentation I have ever seen (and yes I’m biased) and we presented it as one team, almost as if we were one person. Our delivery was seamless…our recommendations were delivered in one voice. We were at the top of our game! And it feels great!

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We nailed everything, from the timing – to the delivery, to the translations, to the real meaning! The satisfaction we feel as a team right now is indescribable.

I honestly can’t say how AMAZING it feels to see your charts up on a screen in front of 30+ people (who don’t speak English), and to watch your colleagues deliver with such style and grace. We were experts on that stage today. The pride I feel in what we have accomplished and what we have recommended is beyond anything I’ve felt in a very long time.

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In this day and age I’m so used to delivering and executing on my own that I seem to have forgotten what it’s like to be a part of a team of equals…a team who without one another would not have been able to accomplish what we accomplished. I am SO proud of this team…I am SO proud of my friends…Sunny, Justin, Antonio, Souvik and Stephanie! You all make me proud to be an IBMer and even prouder to call you friends!

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After our presentation we dined with the Mayor and several Directors. We took a nice long drive through southern Pyeongchang County to the restaurant. What beauty to behold!

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Sunny even enjoyed relaxing a bit!

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So many people joined us for lunch, the County had to bring a bus.

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We took over the entire restaurant.

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The relationships we have built with our customer are beyond any I have ever built in my 18 years at IBM. There’s something about the Korean culture that welcomes you with open arms. Our gracious hosts, Pyeongchang County, made us feel more welcome than I have ever felt in my life. They delighted in our presence, they went out of their way to make us feel welcome and they made a lasting impact on us that made me feel beyond ecstatic that we have truly made an impact on the lives of the people in this place.

It was Mr. Jang’s 60th birthday. What better way to celebrate than together with our new friends. His son is also expecting a baby in August. Such great things to be thankful for.

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Mr. Mayor Sim and Mr. Mayor Antonio did a final toast…to our project, to our health and to our new friends!!!

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Lunch was fantastic as usual.

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And more strawberries!!  We just can’t get enough of them!

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There is an opportunity here to help build up a community, to improve a society and to build something great! That is gratifying! I honestly can’t articulate what this experience has meant to me….and I’m not sure I will ever be able to do so.

The tears today were flowing…I seemed to have kept them mostly at bay (although the team now knows that I was an emotional basket-case today – but it’s not like that will surprise them). They seem to know we well enough now….

Following lunch we had a few more close-out meetings and we enjoyed our last meal with our new friends in Pyeongchang.   We dined together, we drank together and we laughed together. It was the perfect ending to a perfect 3 weeks!

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Then we ended up at karaoke! HAHA! And we thought we were a close team before…it’s amazing what some bad singing (not all of us…Ji-Hyun rocks!!!) and a small room will do for relationships. All singing comments aside, it was fantastic and just what we needed to end our journey.

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We thought about some snacks, then thought better of taking them into Karaoke with us.

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One more group photo for the camera…

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We have one more full day together as we venture into Seoul tomorrow and I know it will be an emotional roller coaster. But with that I say another Ahnyeonghi jumuseyo (goodnight)…until we meet again!

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D-Day

It’s Wednesday night…our final presentation with the Mayor is tomorrow. Our presentation is done…our report is submitted for review…now we just have to deliver our presentation and go through all the formalities of the day…and boy are there a lot.

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We will be up bright and early for a 7:45 AM departure. I think the group consensus is we all feel pretty good. We’re very pleased with our presentation and we feel very good about our recommendations.

It’s going to be a very packed day and more of the apprehension for me is that we’re nearing the end of our journey.

It’s amazing how fast it’s flown by. The first week actually seemed like it went on forever. We were in interviews constantly. We were stressed about getting it all done in three weeks time. We were still getting to know one another and things weren’t quite jelling just yet.

As we moved into week 2 we were getting into our stride…although we were stressing quite a bit about running out of time. Once we put a stake in the ground we started to make progress and things seemed to ease up a bit.

This past weekend was when we knew we had it under control. There was a lot of work to do and we knew we would get it done. And we did!

But that means we only have 2 more nights together as a team…and that makes me sad! I packed up my things in the teamroom tonight thinking this may be the last time I’ll be in there working. We’ll be at the County offices all day tomorrow and we leave for Seoul on Friday morning. I’m also wondering when I’m going to pack??!!

The relationships I’ve built the last three weeks will stay with me forever. We have all extended a warm welcome to each other for visits…I’m not sure if they will all happen but we will try.

I guess I’m going to have to figure out a way to do a whirlwind tour to Kolkata, Madrid, Vancouver, New Jersey and back to Korea in the future. I’m sure I can work something out…

I took a stroll with the girls yesterday…me, Stephanie and Sunny. It was so nice…just us…hiking up a forest trail, chatting and huffing and puffing along the way. Relaxing…taking a short break from the craziness of sitting in the teamroom writing, updating, re-writing, updating…again and again.

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The trees are starting to get their spring buds and the flowers are in bloom. It really is beautiful here!

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We were lucky enough to have a break to enjoy a nice massage. Whoa what a difference 90 minutes makes!!! And what better way to finish after the massage…with some yummy “kitty” tea. Don’t worry, it really had nothing to do with kitties. :-)

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Ji-Hyun treated us to a nice dinner last night at the Kensington Flora Hotel. As we’ve done a pretty good job of not spending too much money…with several meals cooked in-house and several meals not eaten at all (as we’ve been eating SO much), Ji-Hyun spoiled us with a nice meal out. She even made us sit in these chairs. Haha! :-)

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We had several courses as usual (but not nearly as many as the traditional Korean meals). We dined on several pickled items, some kind of creamy soup, a main of steak, chicken and shrimp, and a trio of yummy desserts. What better way to prep for our final presentation that to fill our bellies. :-)

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We even had a visit from a local ladybug. Don’t worry…we didn’t eat him! :-)

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The gift shop even had Happy700 and Pyeongchang merchandised items. It does exist!

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The hotel is beautiful both inside and out.

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We ended our evening meandering around the lake and the pool.

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There’s even “glamping” for the faint of heart!

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And there’s nothing like Christmas in April. Haha! Why not!

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After we got back to Phoenix Park we stopped in the teamroom for one more late night dessert of ice cream and the most amazing strawberries I’ve ever had in my life. Ji-Hyun spoiled us yet again! I am ruined forever. :-)

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And with that, it’s time to crash as we have a BIG day tomorrow! Goodnight all…and wish us luck!!

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