It’s official….I’m on my way to Pyeongchang, South Korea!!!
As many of you may know, I have been hand selected to participate in the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. The Smarter Cities Challenge contributes the skills and expertise of IBM’s top talent to address critical challenges facing cities around the world. We do this by putting teams on the ground for three weeks to work closely with city leaders and deliver recommendations on how to make the city smarter and more effective. Over the past 4 years, 116 cities have been selected to receive grants. The Smarter Cities Challenge is IBM’s largest philanthropic initiative, with contributions valued at over $50 million to date.
Pyeongchang is the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang wants to ensure that the investments made for the Olympics can be sustained to drive their economy after the Olympic games are over by attracting a global market of tourists to the region. Mayor JaeKook Sim has asked IBM to help the city by developing a tourism strategy for realizing their vision of becoming the “City for Relaxation, Tourism, Leisure, and Sports”.
Today is the day I knew was coming when I got the call on March 4. Getting to this point has been a whirlwind. From making the decision within 5 hours on whether or not I could take 3 weeks away from my job and my family, to spending the last 3 weeks on the road (Vancouver, Costa Mesa, San Antonio, Toronto and Chicago), to only having 30 hours home in between trips to pack and get ready to leave the country for 3+ weeks….I’m finally on my way!! And I’m beat already!!
But after all of the craziness of the past month, I’m SO excited to finally be sitting in the Detroit airport for 4+ hours awaiting my flight to Seoul. 🙂 Seriously though, this is an opportunity of a lifetime and I’m so lucky that IBM has given me and the rest of my fellow IBMers this chance. We’re going to make a real difference!! We’re going to be doing it because we want to, because we have the opportunity to make an impact and because we’re passionate about doing something greater than the day-to-day. I can’t wait to begin this journey with my IBM partners for the next 3+ weeks, Antonio Galbe Bartolome (Madrid, Spain), Stephanie Carmel (NJ, USA), Sunny Chung (Seoul, South Korea), Souvik Das (Kolkata, India) and Justin Webb (Burnaby, Canada). I’m sure we will learn together, cry together, laugh together, play together, drink together, jump out of our comfort zones together and work VERY hard together, but we will have a lot of fun and we will make a lifetime of memories.
I have to admit, I was incredibly apprehensive the past few days. When I was sitting in the airport in Chicago Wednesday night, and my flight was delayed with the potential to miss my connection on the last flight back to Denver, I started to freak out a bit. I hadn’t packed a thing. I had to pick up my dry cleaning. I wanted to spend time with my husband and my kids and it all had the potential to come crashing down. But I got home late Wednesday night and I got it all done. I only got 2 hours of sleep last night but I made it. I packed too much, I slept too little, but the apprehension is gone and now I’m just downright ecstatic to be on this adventure!!
The kids and Vince will be a little worse for the wear, but they’ve got a fun-filled 3 weeks ahead of them. Livy is heading to Wyoming for a sleepover, Alex is going skiing, they’ve got birthday parties to attend, family to spend time with, snow to play in (yes it snowed 3” last night), Daddy to torment and more. I may never be allowed to leave the house again (if Vince has his way) but the support is there nonetheless. Thanks babe!!
I’ve commandeered Cotswold (Alex’s stuffed monkey we bought in Cotswold, England when Alex was but a wee chap). Cotswold has seen the world with us as a family (England, Curacao, New York City, and many other US destinations), with Daddy (South Africa, Germany and the UK) and now with Mommy (South Korea). Alex loves following Cotswold’s adventures and it was the best I could do to keep him from wanting to pack himself in my bags and come with me. So far Cotswold has enjoyed his trip from Denver to Detroit. Keep an eye on the blog and follow his adventures.
Cotswold has been keeping me company in the lounge. My flight to Seoul boards in a little under 2 hours and I’m ready to get it over with. 13.5 hours in a metal tube in the sky is not my idea of fun, but I’m hoping to catch up on my sleep (remember the 2 hours I got last night?), a few movies and some relaxation. I’m actually one of the fortunate ones who can sleep on an airplane. Wish me luck! I’m also fighting a head cold so here’s hoping the Tylenol PM will do the trick. 🙂
I will do my very best over the next 3 weeks to keep blogging. I’ve never been one for this sort of thing, but knowing I’ve got a fan base out there should keep me going. 🙂 I can’t promise I’ll post something every day, nor that my posts will be as lengthy as this one, but I will push through.
Check in on me from time to time. I look forward to sharing this amazing experience with all of you.