Flight to Seoul and Staff Retreat Day
June 24, 2005
Thus far the trip has been wonderful and without incident (at least for me). Left home at 4:30 AM CDT and went to sleep at about 7:30 AM CDT the next day. Did manage to sleep on the plane some, thankfully. And surprisingly well fed through the journey.
Thanks to a continuously-updated map that could be displayed on the tv-screen embedded in the seat in front of me, I was early on surprised to find that the journey from San Francisco to Seoul was taken us up the coast instead of across the Pacific. I suppose they wanted to stay in sight of land as long as possible. Unfortunately clouds obscured my vision as we flew over Alaska (before Alaska I would have just seen ocean from my westward-looking view). In a momentary lifting of clouds I was able to glean the breadth of Siberia’s emptiness from fleeting glances of rivers, mountains, and glaciers. I never though I would enter what was, 20 years ago, “enemy air space.”
But we did not, naturally, enter Chinese or North Korean air space. Our trail skirted wide of these after passing over Japan’s northernmost island (which again was covered in cloud).
I do not wish for this to become ponderous, so I will skip ahead to the Catholic Retreat Center in St. Lazarus Village, on the far side of Seoul (I think). The Center is built on a hillside, up above the noise of traffic and city below. Looking out the front of the House of Aaron, where I am staying, I guess we are at least 5, maybe 7 stories above the city (comparing to apartment buildings whose bottoms I cannot see).
The grounds are beautifully wooded and filled with magpies, flowers, and statues of Christ and many saints. It is an inspiring location for the week to come.
Friday was spent as a retreat just for the URI Global Support Staff, which includes the main office in San Francisco as well as the Regional Coordinators from around the world (there are 11 Coordinators – 4 not able to join though). I am still getting used to the idea of being a part of the Global Support Staff. Excellent day spent getting to know “the crew” better and greeting Global Council Trustees as they arrive. And again, very well fed throughout the day; I even ate some (very hot) kimchee at the first meal – pickled cabbage is not what I expected it to be!
Fell asleep before 9:00 PM (local time) last night! Guess jet lag was still there. But I've been up since 5:30 this morning and looking forward to another wonderful day, preparing for the official start of the Global Council meeting tomorrow.