Friday, 3 September 2010

2S2: An Idea

Hi there, readers.

Many of you know about 2S2, the social meetup plan I concocted late last year to help us folks living in Korea get connected with each other. Now, over the last few months, I've been busy as a fox in a henhouse, taking care of this and that, and as my friends will know, I haven't even had time to have a social life...

and 2S2 has fallen by the wayside.

Now, I know some people who are not happy about this, and some people who want to support 2S2 if it continues, and I'm trying to decide what to do about it. There are a few 2S2's in other areas - Yongin/Suji and Suwon continue to meet, and maybe other groups may yet join...

so I'm having a few ideas, and I'd like to hear some feedback, about what next step is the best for 2S2.

1. Pass 2S2 as is, over to ATEK's Social Officers
   -see, while I don't want ATEK to take over the Roboseyo blog, I DO think that as networking goes, ATEK is doing an amazing job of building a sustainable network, and because the organization is designed to perpetuate itself, it means that this meetup will continue, in different forms, all over Korea.  ATEK has a bunch of social officers in all sorts of areas of Korea, and if each of them can access the 2S2 Blog to put their social calendar postings there, then people who aren't on facebook can still access the social event listings.  The feed could be linked on ATEK's homepage, in the PMA pages, or on the main page.

2. Change the name from 2S2 to ATEK Social, and do the same as above.

3. Recruit someone who has more free time to take over 2S2 Anguk.  (any takers?)

4. Let it all go dormant until somebody comes along who wants to take things over.

5. Suck it up, cupcake, and get back to scheduling stuff.  The weather's about to get nicer, anyway.

What say ye, readers?  I DO think it would be a shame if #4 came to pass... so what say ye?



Foreigner Joy said...

Sorry to say but the Yongin/Suji one never kicked off.

If ATEK can make it happen then I say go for it.

Chris in South Korea said...

Let sleeping dogs be. The idea of socializing with fellow expats is wonderful, but it never really got past the usual polite stage. At the risk of using a 'Real World' example, it never really got real. For it to work in the future, it would need a lot more publicity and steady involvement from plenty of people...

Schplook said...

Well, I'm still plugging away...

It's true that it never really took off, but I've made sure to do something every month since near the start of the year.

Personally, I'm for option number 1. I am now ATEK's social officer for Gyeonggi Province, so I would like to focus on just one thing.

Also, I don't think it will make much of a difference to people who come along to the events/activities/outings I organise. That is, except the fact that they will have the opportunity to get to know about ATEK... if they're interested.

The Seoul Searcher said...

Don't wanna be a downer, but don't you think it's a little strange that people fly to the other side of the world to meet people exactly like the ones back home, only to sit around and complain about how this side of the world is different from home?

Perhaps I'm digging my own social grave here, but these kinds of expat meetups are pretty much all the same. And there are three archetypes.

1. The newbs. They have so many questions about everything. They seem to complain the least, but they are the most annoying because they are wowed and awed by things that the rest of us have gotten used to already.

2. The showoff. He likes to show everyone how well accustomed he is to Korea. He'll throw Korean words into his English because "he can't think of the English word that conveys the same meaning". He gives advice to everyone about living in Korea, even though they didn't ask. And when you get him drunk, he'll pour out all the built up frustration that he's paid his dues, but Koreans still treat him as a newb.

3. The complainer. Everything in this country is ass-backwards! But only HE knows about it, so he wants to tell everyone how the government, the people, the media, the school system, the police, the music, or his girlfriend is effed up!

Which am I?

4. The invisible. He can count the number of expat friends he has on half a hand. Any close expat friends he has, he met before they became expats. He scoffs at the Korean government's attempts to make Korea friendly to foreigners because he thinks "that's not Korea, that's a western stereotype of Korea" and "those aren't foreigners, they are Korean stereotypes of foreigners!" He limits his exchanges with other expats to a bare minimum. Other expats think he's a snobby elitist and there might actually be some truth to that.

palladin said...

Only problem I have with social meet-ups is they tend to be dominated by the English teaching crowd. Not being a member of that group tends to get you left out of everything involved. Once it changes into a true foreigner meet-up and not just a local English teacher gathering, then I'll possibly attend.

Anonymous said...

It's every bit as ridiculous to be proud of having few foreign friends and staying away from other expats as it is to socialize only with fellow foreigners. Palladin does have a point that it can be a little off-putting to be in a crowd that is predominantly in a single field if you're not part of that crowd, but by and large, the 2S2 activities were NOT sessions to sit around and bitch about things, but rather some really worthwhile events. Whatever form they take, I hope you're able to continue them.

Schplook said...

@SS, those descriptions sound familiar, and I have to admit I sometimes feel like I'm in danger of becoming a 3 or a 4... I'll have to make sure I don't.

@Pal, I agree about that too. We've had a few people working in different fields and from non-western (non-E-2 visa) countries, but they haven't stuck around.
I have to say, though, that even the ESL teachers are a pretty diverse group - I could make my own list satirical stereotypes, but I think I'll keep them to myself.

@Anon, I can see your point too. Of course, it's better to be open to friends from any background - kind of snobby to avoid friendship based on someone's field/background/interests.

By the way, the 2nd Saturday of the month is coming up...

palladin said...

Well its more that people tend to come together on common / shared experiences. If you get ten people together, nine of which are ESL teachers and one of which is a systems engineer, the social conversation and atmosphere will be predominately about the ESL life and job.

Roboseyo said...

Palladin, you might be barking up the wrong tree if you're checking blogs for opportunities to meet that more diverse crowd: blog readers, as far as I know, tend to be young, and a lot of the young English speaking people in Korea tend to be are here on teaching visas; you might do better to try somewhere like the Royal Asiatic Society of Korea at, or interest-specific groups on facebook or are book clubs, baking clubs, writing clubs, public speaking clubs, and all sorts of others. meanwhile, I don't really have much control over who comes to the meetups; all I can do is plan the events. good luck finding what you're looking for.

Schplook said...

I read somewhere recently (in this book, I think) that friendships are often based more on proximity than shared interests or even compatible personality types.

Of course, it seems natural that the people we spend the most time around would have similar interests, knowledge, and backgrounds. These are the people we see at our workplaces, in our neighbourhoods, in our gyms, at our favourite restaurants and bars. These places provide many of our current friends. Think about how many of your friends you met at a shared place of work, study, or another of your regular hangouts.

It is the limiting factors, then, that inhibit the development of friendships: frequent changes of address, lack of free time, shyness, culture and language differences, things that turn us off. Think about how many opportunities to form new friendships have been lost as a result of moving away, or not investing enough time and effort, or being too shy, or not feeling like you fit in, or just getting a bad first impression.

There are ways to mitigate these limiting factors: stick to one area for an extended period; commit more time to going out and meeting people; make an effort to become more outgoing; learn the culture/language; try to tolerate or ignore some of the things that turn you off about certain places and people.

Also, maximise the chances of finding friendships: go out more often and to different places; join or start a club; make your intentions known; actively search for people to connect with and be open to opportunities from unexpected sources.

So, you could tell people you want to go out. Find out what people around you (work, school, neighbourhood) are doing and ask to join in. Become a regular at a certain place and strike up a conversation with another regular (or a stranger, eek!). Search online clubs and groups, or make one yourself. Do something for someone else - accept an offer/request, or do some volunteer work.

Remember, there have been so many chances in life to connect with people. Think about school... how many people did you go to school with? How many of them became friends? Are you still close to them now?

As we graduate, get new jobs (and perhaps often change jobs), move to a new country, we find friendships harder to establish and retain. It may feel unnatural but, in our situation, we need to make more effort in both forming and maintaining friendships.

*Disclaimer: this message is not aimed at any particular commenter, but is simply an expression of my thoughts on the subject that has arisen in the course of this discussion.

The Seoul Searcher said...

Anonymous said:
It's every bit as ridiculous to be proud of having few foreign friends and staying away from other expats as it is to socialize only with fellow foreigners.

Didn't say I was "proud" of it, but it's what comes naturally.

Roboseyo said...

@pall and @seoulse... you two have touched on one of the toughest realities of expat life: the disconnect between long-term and short-term expats, between long-stay and fresh-off-the-boat expats. The disconnect leads to a lot of lost opportunity for mentorship and help, but it's tough to resolve when long-term expats, who have said "goodbye" to SO many other friends going home, that they may find it hard to invest in another newcomer who might only stick around for a year, and newcomers usually don't like being preached at, or having their honest concerns (culture shock issues, discovering test culture for the first time, etc.) brushed aside with a "I've heard that rant SO many times"

Developing some kind of mentorship program is something ATEK's talked about a lot, to help build those connections, but until the personpower shows up with hours to burn volunteering to organize and coordinate it, we haven't been able to put together something tangible yet.

palladin said...

Well if anyone ever gets a Daegu branch up and going drop me a line.