During The Stumbling Parents' visit to Korea, I mentioned that we met with KA and MA, the visiting professor and his wife. In order to tell this story, I must further reveal that KA is a professor from Mississippi State University (MSU). As luck would have it, this week they had the first ever international MSU alumni chapter meeting here in Seoul, and KA invited me to come along! [ for my Korean friends, "XXX alumni" are people who graduated from XXX university - my dictionary calls them 졸업생들 ] We had expected it would be about a dozen men getting together for an official 30 minutes or less meeting, then adjourn to a Korean BBQ restaurant. Was I in for a surprise.
I arrived at the Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul, which was my first time to visit this place. Wow, it was a huge hotel and really nice inside (I'm glad TSP didn't see this place, or they would have been disappointed with the Niagara Hotel). I realized this was going to be a big deal when they told us to go to a meeting room on the 36th floor of the hotel. There they had namecards for everyone (me included), and we were introduced to the MSU President and Alumni Director, both having traveled to Korea specially for this meeting! KA/MA brought WB, an American MSU graduate (not an imposter) who is teaching at a university in southern Korea, near where KA is teaching.
All of us westerners were seated together at one of the front tables while we listened to the speeches and ate dinner. I was further surprised when the speaker thanked me personally by name for attending the dinner, and then realized my name (along with the other Americans) was featured prominently in the evening's program! WB and I were thanked for "being active in Korea as the MSU alumni", and KA and MA were thanked "for being together at this place today". It was too much.
Here is KA and MA, pointing to my name in the evening's program:
Here is the MSU President giving his speech:
WB trying to put on his MSU baseball cap:
Trying to cram everyone into one big picture:
But no, there was more. After we were finally finished with speeches and dinner, the brought out presents to give to all the Americans attending the meeting! I will confess that I did admit the truth to the MSU president and alumni director - I am NOT an alumni from MSU, but rather I am a Rambling Wreck. However, I do have some connections to MSU. I have two family members who are alumni, the engineering director at my first company of 12 years was also an alumni, and my current company's president is an alumni (he's the one who introduced KA to me, since they were college friends many years ago).
Well, here is the nice gift bag I received:
Cufflink and Tie Clasp set:
Wallet and Belt set:
Here is the program cover from the evening:
And the non-Korean menu. It was delicious.
I was worried about eating duck jello. I expect my jello to be sweet. Once I got over the shock of jello tasting like meat, it was actually pretty good. The rest of the meal was first class. MA especially enjoyed it - she has been having a tough time adjusting to Korean food.
We finished up about 9pm, and my friend JI called me. Last night was his infrequent dinner out with fellow students from his English Academy. They often request that I join them so they can speak English with me, but I've only gone once or twice in the past 6 months. Since it was only a few subway stops away, along the way home, I stopped by for an hour or so and spoke English with a bunch of Koreans at a Chinese restaurant - how strange is that?
I told them my story about being an imposter at the MSU alumni meeting. These guys immediately reminded me about the recent scandals here in Korea which I mentioned at the start of this post. If the press catches me being an imposter, I will have no choice but to return these nice gifts. I don't mind returning the cuff links, since I don't have any French cuff shirts, nor the belt, since it is too small for me (or should I say my belly is too big for the belt). But I'd like to at least keep the tie clasp and the wallet... please....