– By Justesse Gomis, Current Special Events Chair, SIWA

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Before I write about my experience with SIWA Bazaar 2016, I would like to thank the  bazaar team  and all volunteers who supported us. But above all, I would like to extend a special ‘Thank You’ to my friend Gabrielle Kim, The Bazaar Manager, who did great work during these very busy and fully packed months. She worked hard to make this event unique and special! Also, Thank you to ASAS and sponsors for their generosity.

About Siwa Bazaar 2016 , it’s a story which started before I arrived at  Seoul. Indeed, before coming here, I had decided to find a way to work and improve my skills in management and business, through volunteering for SIWA. So when I met SIWA ladies and shared my excitement about SIWA bazaar, I was presented with an exciting opportunity to work as Special Events Chair. Two months after coming to Seoul, I started organising the biggest fundraising event of the city. Though I realised the scale of the Bazaar much later, I embraced the big challenge and went ahead working on it.

I worked with Anne Choe, President, SIWA and Amy Lee, VP, Fundraising to create the guideline of the bazaar. We built a team. There were challenges but fortunately, I had the support of my SIWA colleagues and my Family. We printed the flyers and banners, got sponsors and shared all the communication about the Bazaar in order maximise the number of people coming for the Bazaar on November 14th. Robin Carney, VP Brand Communications worked hard on the PR, to arrange for interviews with the leading media set-ups.

The biggest challenge was to find the donations for supporting the event. Anne Choe and Amy Lee were in charge of this critical area. Because of their great work, we received important donations. The ladies from the leadership team stepped up to volunteer for critical roles. Monica Williams took charge of the Lucky Draw.

Throughout the months, while prepping and planning towards the Bazaar, I was anxious thinking about the final execution. But on the day before the bazaar, it was amazing to watch all the volunteers running around to set up the event. We were laughing, taking pictures, enjoying the preparation and having fun at work. Though we were awake till late night, we were back to work early morning on the day of Bazaar with all the energy which was displayed by the amazingly talented SIWA ladies. It was impressive! Embassies, Vendors, Sponsors and Charities sold the best products and food items of their countries. There were more than 40 embassies, clubs, local businesses, sponsors, welfare organisations and volunteers taking part in the SIWA & Diplomatic Community Bazaar.

Apart from the purchasing the products and relishing the great food, I enjoyed the beautiful colours and amazing Christmas decoration and I could finally eat french food and waffles.

To conclude, though the experience was very challenging, I enjoyed it. It was an amazing feeling to see my daughters and spend time with them the next day after the Bazaar. Despite the hard work,  when I saw their faces and their big eyes, I felt I got this energy back into me to actually start all over again. It so true when they say that nothing succeeds like success. I will always cherish the moments spent together with the SIWA team members while working on the SIWA Bazaar 2016.