Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The American Education Fair: My First Experience

       Seoul, South Korea. It was my task to engage with as many US institutions, invite them, and ultimately sign them up to participate at the AIEF Education Fair in Seoul. Much to my relief I and my coworker’s hard work paid off.

View from the hotel room
  It has been four months in the making. From the day I started work at AIEF I knew the work I had been given to carry out would ultimately lead me to the fairs.
            As I was boarding the plane I couldn't help but feel proud that my coworker and I managed to sign up 43 institutions, an increase of about 100% from the previous fair. It was my first time traveling to any Asian nation so as I exited the plane I could not help but feel the excitement overcome the weary tiredness left from jetlag. From there I headed to the Oakwood Premier hotel where I would be staying for the next week. I am one who loves nothing more than to travel so anything and everything I came across the next couple days was nothing short of amazing. However two short days passed, it was time for the fair to begin, and hard long hours to be had.
            I awoke the morning of the fair still accompanied by my companion for the trip, jetlag. But again the excitement broke through. Today was the day that months of work would finally come to fruition. A couple of hours before the AIEF fair I had the pleasure of meeting some of the school representatives while giving a brief orientation. After that concluded it was time to head to the COEX center where the AIEF education fair would be held. The fair was soon underway, and exhibitors began their weekend long task of recruiting students. Throughout the day I had the absolute delight of meeting all those with whom I made countless faceless interactions through email and telephone. It was beyond rewarding to meet the incredible people who decided to partake in the AIEF education fair.
Presentation at the fair
            The first day of the fair started off a little slow, but towards mid afternoon traffic began to pick up at the COEX and booths became busy with inquiring students. Seeing that was a big relief let me tell you. The first day eventually came to a close, and it couldn’t have come any sooner. To say I was tired would be a gross understatement. Luckily (note sarcasm*), I would have little time to rest and had a planned dinner with most of the school representatives, the KTF staff (the organization who put on the fair) and AIEF. Little did I know that would be one of the highlights of the trip. Around 50 of us made our way into a small Korean BBQ restaurant where we all took our seats and everyone began to mingle. It was a great feeling to have everyone together interacting and swapping stories. The dinner concluded with full stomachs and tired eyes and many retired to recoup for the next days work.     
         Korea? I apparently didn’t and so I concluded my night with some time on the town with friends and colleagues and used the next day to see the sights and sounds of Seoul. Six days was all it took, I love Seoul and Korea, and certainly cannot wait to return for round two in October for the AIEF Education Fair.
   The second day of the fair went over much like the first all though slightly smoother as everyone was settled in. The routine of a slower morning and a busier afternoon began to take hold. Toward the end of the day I could not help but feel proud of all the work we had put in. The school representatives seemed to be happy and so did we. At that point there wasn’t too much I could ask for that was in my control except for a good night sleep. But then again, who needs sleep when you are in Seoul.

Students Interpreters & AIEF team
 By Max Frederick