Dear SIWA supporter,

Looking back on the SIWA year 2019-20, so much has happened. Like many of you, my summer international travel plans have been disrupted by COVID-19 and I am concerned about family, friends, and acquaintances who may be at risk. I feel fortunate to be in South Korea where the government and the people have worked hard together admirably to control the spread of this pandemic.

For the first time as a 57-year-old organisation, SIWA has moved a large portion of our activities and meetings online. This unprecedented move follows the South Korean government’s guidelines regarding social distancing. Despite some initial challenges in making this transition to virtual space, our board members and volunteers worked creatively to launch online events for our members to participate and stay connected.

As life is slowly returning to normal conditions here in Seoul, summer has turned out to be pleasant. The anticipated heat wave is yet to be here. With relaxed social distancing measures in effect since June, I hope you are spending some quality time with your family and friends and perhaps exploring Korea’s beautiful countryside.

While so much attention has been given to COVID-19, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on SIWA’s activities since May 2019. We received so much positive feedback regarding our new coffee morning venue in Four Seasons Hotel. In September, we moved into our new office in Heyground, the first co-working community of changemakers in Korea. We held a couple of WWN events and an issue education coffee morning about aged-out orphans at our Heyground space. In November, our annual SIWA Bazaar was held successfully thanks to the tireless work of SIWA’s executive board, volunteers, various expat clubs, and forty-five embassies. A third and final-year donation has been made to SIWA’s first philanthropy project, All Love School, benefitting multicultural students. Later that same month, several SIWA members participated in the MizSilverKorea beauty pageant to celebrate love, friendship, and diversity. In December, we organized the Winter Luncheon at Grand Ambassador Hotel.

Not to mention, our charity activities have been carried out despite the unfortunate cancellation of our annual Charity Gala. While COVID-19 has put enormous financial pressure on non-profits, SIWA has managed to continue providing funds to KUMFA and other philanthropy projects. We also supported Community Chest of Korea, a major government-sanctioned charity organisation, to help fight COVID-19. Our relationship with our long-time Premium Platinum sponsors remains strong, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Seoul Foreign School, Dwight School Seoul, and Hana Bank.

Meanwhile, several of my friends in SIWA departed this year. Please allow me to thank you personally for your service and dedication to friendship, enrichment, and charity. While you now may be based in another country, remember that our friendship will last forever. While I was saddened to see some friends leave the country, I have been pleased to meet new members. Welcome to the SIWA family.

Many thanks to all SIWA members, existing and new, for your dedication and support for cultural diversity and women’s issues. Special thanks are due to all volunteers. Without your time and energy, our fundraising activities simply would not be possible. Lastly, the SIWA leadership has done so much to ensure that SIWA’s operations run smoothly during these difficult and challenging times. Thank you, everyone!

There is so much uncertainty about what will become the “new normal” in the year ahead. What I do know is that we need the help of each and every SIWA member more than ever. I will do the best I can on my part. Let’s all hope for the best. Please enjoy this publication of a Year In Review.

Sincerely,

Veronica Koon
President
Seoul International Women’s Association

 

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