Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eh, Gov’na!

Posted in Foreign Service Life, Home, Korea at 10:16 pm by graceandpoise

Today, after all of the visas were done, I headed over to Habib House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador to Korea, for a reception in honor of Christine Gregoire, Washington’s governor. Naively, I never imagined the event would be as crowded as it was. The place was so crowded it was often difficult to move more than one or two steps without being jostled by someone, let alone get across a whole room.

The Governor has been here for the better part of a week with a sizeable group of people to promote trade and educational opportunities. There were people at the reception from all sorts of businesses based in Washington, from Microsoft, Boeing and the Port of Seattle down to small start-ups looking for trade partners in Asia. The president of the University of Washington and people from several community and technical colleges were there too. I think I nearly broke the heart of a gal from one of the technical colleges when I told her honestly that, of the hundreds of student visa applications I’ve looked at over the past few months, I could probably count on one hand the number of them asking to go to Washington.

Of course, contacts were being made left and right tonight, and there were plenty of people who were there to do just that. Out of the maybe 250 people there, probably around 150 were Koreans (many of them U-Dub alums) who were interested in making contacts and setting up deals.

And then there were the diplomats. What do we do? We talk. And we say, “Wow, that’s really fascinating – have you met this guy over here? He does such-and-such and might be interested in . . .” That’s us: the facilitators. Except when we meet people of whom we really want to ask a question. In that case, all bets are off, and we’re out for ourselves: “Why can’t our absentee ballots be sent out early enough for us to actually vote?” or “Why does Seattle charge such high airport taxes?” Yeah, we’ll claim it’s out of concern for our own constituents, those other Americans who are living overseas, but really it’s all about us.

All that aside, though, it was a really nice evening to eat some yummy salmon for the first time in a long time and to reminisce with fellow Washingtonians about things like Dick’s and canoeing and the Cascades and Alki and trees and rain. Sigh. Sometimes I just wanna go home, if even just for a little while, airport taxes or not.

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