An open letter to ATEK's new president

Dear Mr. Dolezal,

Congratulations on winning the ATEK presidential election, as reported in the Korea Herald (HT to Rob York - you guys really should sign him up to write your press releases) While I'm sure the news will be surprising to some, I trust that the members of ATEK will accept you through the democratic process that has been followed.

Your challenges are many, and I'm sorry to say that there are almost as many critics as supporters. Your job will be tough, but quite a bit of work has already been done. Contacts have been made, some battles have been won, and there are many opportunities to improve things. The road towards better treatment for foreigners in Korea is long - this is mile number 2 of a very long marathon.

Being the president - and working with the National Council - means your immediate job is to pick people for various National positions. For the benefit of readers, the bylaws state "a Vice President, a Communications Officer, a Membership Officer, and one or more Fiduciary Officers" should be appointed by you and confirmed by the National Council. At least one of those selections should be your former opponent, Ms. White. During your presidental debate, she carried herself well and ably answered every question asked her.

While the following represents a list of ideas, they are just ideas:
  • Pick a direction - whether advocacy or group organization, single-task your main objective

  • Publicize your successes - press releases and announcements (when not spammed or sent few hours) are rarely a burden.

  • Inform the public. What CAN you do for someone? What CAN'T you do? As an example, ATEK can help someone contact a lawyer, but can't help them pay for it.
  • Make it clear that one doesn't have to be a member of ATEK to ask for assistance. [Note: if this is incorrect, please comment or e-mail and I will retract]

  • Fight misinformation actively. Don't assume posting something to your website and pointing someone to it cures misinformation.

  • React fast. If reporters can write a story about something in a matters of hours and bloggers can post their reaction within a day, you need to be able to match that speed. On that note, keep your website up-to-date - press releases from two months ago don't count.

  • Make partners with other organizations. Any organization supporting childhood education should support your efforts of better teachers and better schools. Also, expat communities make excellent partnerships reaching out to the tens of thousands of English teachers - and the many more expats living in Korea.

  • Enable your people. Lofty goals are nice, but the day-to-day responsibilities are easier to accomplish. If they're asking or thinking, 'am I allowed to do that?', recheck communications and retry.

  • KISS. Making things more challenging to comprehend by couching them in pages of legalese does little to build community or consensus.

I understand that a vacuum of leadership at the highest levels gave rise to a number of these issues - things I'm hopeful are now in the past. With a new leader in place, I'm confident in ATEK's potential to assist teachers of English in South Korea.


Chris Backe

P.S. Roboseyo's post on Korea Sparkle gives even more suggestions, in case you hadn't seen it yet.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe - 2009