Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dialogue as a brand...

The day even started well… I woke up already past 7.30am, I managed to check my emails and have breakfast in a relaxed mood, and then we went to the centre and were lucky enough to watch, by complete chance, the Changing of the Royal Guard Ceremony at the Daehanmun gate of the Deoksugung Palace. Since we were in a good mood, but taking into account the freezing cold, we decided to get in and visit Korea’s most famous shopping mecca: Lotte Department Store. According to magazine Monocle, “there are a number of reasons why people shop at Lotte but one is exceptional service”. I could add some more. The prices aren’t exactly low, but it is true that the store leaves a good impression and makes one dream of perusing the 13 floors of retail heaven before leaving with lots of white and gold paper carrier bags! After waking-up from the dream, we went to the basement, where fresh fish is displayed to perfection in the buzzing food hall, alongside exquisitely packed fruits, teas and Korean rice sweets, and had a nice Korean meal. The worst was still to come… Back in the hotel we started the formal meeting with our partners to prepare the event that we are supposed to run together later in summertime. Don’t even know how to explain it… but I guess you will understand my frustration if I tell you that, after seven hours of meeting, we’re back at square one… it’s amazing how small cultural differences when approaching problems and seeking for solutions can disturb a discussion so much! Asian tendency to avoid public conflicts and always search for harmony even when two completely opposite visions are being discussed, doesn’t always seem very efficient, at least to European eyes. And diplomacy doesn’t always mean to be nice and smiling and definitely not reconciling… I normally tend to star the conflicts myself, as I am very… straight-forward, let’s say… so, today, it was kind of strange to be on the other side… keeping calm, avoiding the core of the discussion, refraining from replying to the unfair accusations thrown at me and at the European Youth Forum… The meeting concluded by an agreement on the need for another meeting… which means that my planned visit to Bulguksa temple had to be cancelled… and that annoys me a lot!


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