I’m starting off my takeover of the profiles posts this week with a man heads up the organization that makes so many amazing things possible in this town. His organization welcomes people to the city, helps them find their way around, lets them learn things, and makes Gwangju feel like home through a great variety of activities and community programming, classes, and wonderful events. Here in his own words, Dr. Shin tells you about his work with the GIC.
Full Name: SHIN Gyonggu
Occupation: Executive Director at Gwangju International Center
Hometown: Jincheon-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do
How long has the Gwangju International Center (GIC) been operating in Gwangju?
If the years from the beginning of the Kwangju Center for International Visitors in June 1999 and the official name change into Gwangju International Center in 2002 can be counted, it would be 16 years total.
Why are you living and working in Gwangju?
Although I was called for a job at a university in Seoul, I still wanted to stay in this city because I wanted to contribute something meaningful for locals. For some reason, I felt it was easy to communicate with people in Gwangju, especially when it comes to social issues, probably due to the historical background of Gwangju (of always fighting for justice).
What is the best part of your day?
Meeting people and talking about different issues with them is the best part of my day, like my chat with our new interns today. Sometimes, it can be challenging but even in-depth conversation or discussions are enjoyable. Chatting is good but discussion is better!
Also, personally, singing with my wife as a duet is also best part of my day.
What can be the most difficult part of your day?
Sometimes, there are issues to be resolved. If it is an issue involving just me and another party,
then I can listen and possibly concede. I can always figure out the best way. However, if it is something involving several parties, and nobody wants to compromise, I have a hard time finding the perfect resolution for all of them.
Are there any amusing anecdotes you can share?
I cannot think of any specific one. However, I want to let you know that I enjoy the occasional playful jokes about me from several of our coordinators. Not only do I see the humor in them, but it also demonstrates the comfortable atmosphere in the office. Sometimes, I clean the garbage cans and recycle bins, but nobody runs to stop me, which is also a good example of how there is no hierarchy in this organization. I would call it a flat structure and I am happy with that.
What are some future plans you have for the GIC?
The GIC helps people to help themselves. We don’t want to be an organization providing services. I want us to be the venue for everybody to help themselves. Our goal is to run our organization as a members-oriented operation and services.
This Sunday, Oct. 18 from 11-5, the GIC is hosting its 21st annual Gwangju International Community Day. There will be food experiences from many different countries, booths related to many cultures and the community of Gwangju, an entertainment stage, and a flea market. Entrance is free for the event, but bring money to snap up all the delicious goodies for sale in the food court or buy things from the flea market and other booths. To learn more about the GIC and its programs, stop by their offices for the weekly GIC Talk every Saturday at 3 P.M., or contact them at their downtown offices.