Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Talking Points

Posted in Foreign Service Life, Korea at 10:41 pm by graceandpoise

Government-speak: Talking points, n. 1: Items to be discussed. 2: Items of importance. 3: Guidance regarding what to say that has been handed down by a higher government office. 4: A speech delivered by a governent official.

I just finished a two and a half day conference for entry-level Foreign Service officers that we hosted here in Seoul. It was a great success, which is pretty amazing considering we did most of the planning and all of the arrangements in exactly one month. We had people, including three of my A-100 colleagues, visiting us from all over East Asia and the Pacific region, some from as far away as Laos and New Zealand. We shared stories, listened to a lot of wise words from various learned speakers, and enjoyed spending time in one of Seoul’s nicest hotels. Too bad those of us living in Seoul weren’t authorized to get rooms in the hotel as part of the conference…

Some of the more interesting words of wisdom from the past couple of days:

  • “Trust is the coin of the realm.”
  • “North Korea without nuclear weapons would be like another Burma.”
  • “Sometimes getting the State Department and the Defense Department to work together is like herding cats.”
  • “Our policy in Asia suffers from, more than anything, a deficit of attention due to the focus on the Middle East.”
  • “You don’t want to gratuitously offend people.”

Obviously, the last of these is the best. Duly noted: I shall try not to gratuitously offend people. Though it’s possible I might offend them if I have a reason.

I mentioned the hotel was among the best we’ve got here in Seoul. I didn’t take any photos of the inside of the hotel (though now I realize it might’ve been nice to have done so), but the following proves at least that it’s got some of the best views of the city from both north and south sides of the building.

South view from Hyatt

North-west view from Hyatt

Last but not least: the obligatory group photo. This is everyone who was still around at 5:45 in the evening on the final day of the conference. Those who had already gone to catch their flights were there in spirit.

Attendees - End of the Conference

Helping to put the conference together was a lot of work, but I’m glad so many people were able to come and help to make it the great success that it was.  Now that it’s over, though, I will gladly become a hermit for the next couple of evenings.  I think we all need a little rest.

1 Comment »

  1. Sometimes a good offense is just offensive.

    And sometimes even your defense will offend some (usually those you’re defending against: “How dare you prevent me from victimizing you!”)

    So it’s okay if you include a capacity for giving offense in your diplomat’s skillset; you never know when you’ll need to be offensive.

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