Friday, July 30, 2010

ATEK's Next President

*this is Rob's own Blog, not an official ATEK release.*

Now as I said when I announced my position as ATEK communications officer, I don't want ATEK to take over Roboseyo... on the other hand, this here passes the "if I weren't ATEK's communications guy, would I write about this?" test.

As you may have heard at Chris in South Korea, ATEK President Greg Dolezal's one-year term is coming to an end, and we're taking nominations right now for candidates for the next president.

Last year, the debate between Greg Dolezal and Stephannie White during ATEK's presidential campaigns, hosted by, led to a great podcast which ended up articulating a lot of the issues affecting English teachers.

Now, a year later, ATEK is standing on much more stable ground than its controversy-ridden beginnings.  The three-man organization and the Equal Checks campaign have given way to a solid organization built for growth, a growing membership, and a growing number of active officers working in their regional organizations to help English teachers with all kinds of different needs.

Some of ATEK's recent successes include launching the Legal Assurance Program with Kangnam Labor Law Firm, building connections with the Seoul Metro Police Association, ratifying a set of new bylaws that set the organization up for big growth in the future, growing connections with groups like Kotesol, and avoiding the standoffish posture that, while it seems like stuff is getting accomplished, ultimately alienates the people we want to be talking with.  ATEK is making inroads to having an actual place at the table in discussions about the future of English education in Korea, and ATEK has more officers and more support now for the next president than we've ever had before: when Greg started, the number of ATEK officers was much smaller, and the organization was recovering from some bad press, and we're looking for nominations for our next president: a few candidates would be ideal: giving members a choice is important, and the campaign is an important chance to articulate ATEK's next steps.

Any general member can run for president... to become an associate member, go to, and to become a general member (which you have to be, to run for president), the e-mail you receive for becoming an associate member will have more information.  Then, once you're a general member, go to the general member discussion forums, and post a comment announcing your candidacy.  For more information, e-mail Russell at, or Greg at

In my opinion, what ATEK needs now is somebody who can build on the foundation we have: ATEK is working really well as a communication network, sharing information and help with teachers who need it, and gathering information from teachers, to communicate them to those who make decisions that affect English teachers' fates.  People who want to know what foreigners think about Korea are starting to contact ATEK, because it's put itself out there, and buddy, we badly need other sources for quotes about about English teachers in Korea.

Who'll do well?  Somebody who's good with people, somebody who looks before he or she leaps, but who is passionate about improving English teachers' situations in Korea.  A peacemaker and a coordinator will be more successful than a disturber: because ATEK is still a young organization, the decisions made now can have long-lasting effects, and a good president will be careful enough to consider long-term effects of decisions, but also has the drive to take opportunities when they come.

Meanwhile, ATEK continues looking for people who care about English education in Korea: we have communications positions involving translation and gathering resources to help English teachers, as well as website design and content management.  We have lots of local districts looking for officers in all kinds of positions: social officers to organize events, emergency needs officers to take care of sudden problems that pop up, ethics officers to act as the organization's accountability voice and consciences, and representatives for hogwan teachers, public school teachers, and others.  There are people who have complained that when ATEK says, "We need people to help out," we don't say "We specifically want people with these skills to do this" --- but that's really because there are spaces for what-ever you like to do, and whatever you're good at.  Like helping people? Like coordinating events?  Like sifting through information to choose the most correct and appropriate course of action?  Got law background? Got counselling background? Got a heartbeat?  Atek can find a place where you can add value to the experiences of English teachers in your area, where you can come away from Korea with a reference letter, a better feeling about your time in Korea, and another bullet-point on your resume.

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