Tuesday, March 9, 2010
your mission should you choose to accept it is...wait.
i rented a motorcycle and rode some ridge trails, and got to get really off the beaten path to see an incredible range of villages whos inhabitants had rarely seen a foreigner. if i stopped for a drink, the whole town would gather round, and even just riding through the main road, an entire soccer game stopped to watch me go by. neat, but a bit odd. i finally had to turn around at one point when i found myself climbing a super rocky hill alone on the bike, in a tank top with no proper shoes, having no clue where i was. i hated turning around before i found where this road went, and of course in doing so i dropped the bike and reduced the clutch lever to the 2 finger variety. i knew i should have just kept going! but for once i played it safe and returned to the hotel unharmed.
when we finally got the call for the pick up, our packages were waiting for us nearby. it was just a mother hen and her youngin that we were taking, but there were also a couple others there that had been part of another group that we were not allowed to take with us because they were part of a different program (weird, i know). this was the most heartbreaking thing i had seen since starting this job. here we were, seemingly hand-picking these two to take to safety, and telling the others that they had to make their own way. there was no risk for them at this point, eventually they would all end up at the same place to get processed. but of course they didnt really know that, the tears were freely flowing, and they were breaking down into near hysteria. i think it was a decision on our part that should be made differently next time. but we are all new at this, and it is part of a learning process all the way around. anyway, once the four of us got into the car, it was a quick hop into the car and a leisurely (with a few tense points at police checkpoints) 12 hour drive back home to safety. now im not usually a kid person, and the thought of having a little sticky handed, whining brat in the house was not that appealing to me. but this kid turned out to be crazy smart and totally hilarious. he would mimic my english perfectly while we played our own version of chess (he somehow managed to win every game). i watched him carefully examine a tripod, checking each knob and joint before returning it to its original state. and his mom man, this chick was fierce, and i mean that in the best way possible. they were going on to ROK and not the US, so they would be staying in the "waiting" prison. she knew her energetic son would have a difficult time, so she loaded up on games and toys, and prepared the best that she could. we were disappointed they werent going to be staying with us for more than a few days, but she had family in south korea, and was set on going there. it was probably the right decision, but it sure would have been a lively house with such a little character here.
so there are obvious flaws in the process as of now, a big one being communication of timing. sometimes we are hours late, other times days early. but its also exciting to be involved at a time when the protocol is literally being written. after every mission we will understand more about what works and what doesnt, and how to be as prepared as possible. i was asked in an interview recently if this procedure seemed sustainable. well, there are a million ways we could improve it, and we will, one at a time. but how sustainable do we really want it to be? i mean, isnt half the point of this to create enough awareness so that the prison doors will soon swing open? if this process has to be sustainable for very long, we are not doing our job on other fronts of the fight. so lets keep that awareness spreading, and put me out of a job as quickly as possible.