-Posted by Bockhee Lee, Proud SIWA Member since 2003

-Saturday afternoon on March 5, 2016 interviewed by Anne Choe

Bockhee Lee

Some thirteen years ago, Bockhee Lee was introduced to SIWA by her expat friend. Ever since, Bockhee has been a valuable leader and member, serving as VP Fundraising for the past three years, helping Tours team for five years, leading Cultural Connection, and heading the 2012 Bazaar.

Q: What was your greatest challenge during your tenure in SIWA?  How did you rise above it?

A: The biggest challenge happened when I was first Korean “Bazaar Chair” in 2012. We first started “FREE entrance” and moved the venue from a hotel to the Seoul Museum of History in Gwangwhamun. We had to prepare everything and think about any possible issues. Someone insisted on moving back to the hotel and told me there would be chaos and accidents. Someone else asked me to translate all policies of the museum into English. I had to run to the museum 3~4 days a week whenever we had a question. The Bazaar Logistics team measured the museum and changed the layout several times. One day I answered 70 emails from 7am till 11pm. Another day, I stood in the middle of Gwangwhamun near ‘General Lee statue’ and cried. But the Bazaar Committee diligently worked and was excited that we could help each other to help people in need. On November 13, 2012, about 8,000 people (according to the count of the museum) came to the Bazaar and we raised more revenue than the previous year without any accident.

Q: As the only Korean-speaking Vice President on the Executive Committee, you were quite instrumental in resolving issues that could not be handled by non-Korean speaking leaders. Is there one story that you can share with us?

A: I’m proud of being a Korean in SIWA. On Tuesday, March 25, 2014, I prepared Cultural Connection- Republic of Korea, “Korea, My Country” at Deoksugung palace where about 100 people participated. I shared the story about my father whose father was a Confucian scholar. He taught us ‘The book of Filial Duty’ from my childhood. My mother’s family sang hymns every early morning while my grandfather played the organ. Both of my mother’s parents were killed during the Korean war. But my parents showed the children love, devotion and kindness through their lives, which became the energy for me to work very actively and try to be helpful for foreign members in SIWA.

Q: How would you describe SIWA, as you know it today in comparison to the one you joined over a decade ago?

The outer part of SIWA became more convenient but the inner part of SIWA which is a warm and kind atmosphere is always the same. If SIWA can get together happily, our children will get together happily. These efforts to understand different cultures will be the most powerful energy to solve many global issues. I met life-long good friends in SIWA. While I visited many countries, I learned the memories in each country always stay in my mind. I hope all SIWA friends enjoy living in Korea and make lots of beautiful memories!