Friday, September 19, 2008

Paul Hussey: Once a hero, always a hero

Last year, just about anything we ever successfully accomplished in Korea was due to the stalwart (and bilingual) assistance of Paul Hussey, administrative assistant and god among men. Paul parted company with APIS last year to lead the Itaewon/Hannam Global Village Center, an initiative by the Seoul Metropolitan Government to provide help for foreigners living in Korea. (And let me tell you, foreigners living in Korea need all the help we can get).

As we prepared for the GRE this week, we had some serious linguistic roadblocks with the Fulbright center, where the GRE was staged. Somehow we got incorrect directions on our dry run and ended up hiking around downtown for an hour (if anybody ended up here with a "Korean GRE" google search, the current directions page is quite good). Justin also spent three hours on the phone last weekend trying to hammer out details like scheduling and billing - three hours being about thirty minutes of conversation and about two and a half hours being transferred between test center, Fulbright staff, and test center again in pursuit of somebody who spoke English.

Then, on the morning of the test, we double-check the GRE web site and are told we need an admission ticket. We have no admission ticket. We don't even know what an admission ticket looks like. We don't have three hours to spend on hold.

Enter Paul Hussey.

I whip out my phone and call up the Global Village Center (at 02-796-2459) and ask for Paul. I tell him our panic-ridden tale. He jots it down and says he'll call me back.

One more phone call, to exchange some reservation numbers, and we have a verdict: no ticket necessary, but bring a passport and a printout of the confirmation e-mail. We go downtown that afternoon and lo and behold, it is as Paul said it would be. We actually get there an hour and a half early (I am my mother's daughter) but since computers are available, they let us start, and we get out a few hours later, a bit shell-shocked but halfway through with our Korean GRE.

So let's hear it for the Global Village Center, and let's hear it again for hero Paul, who towers above mere mortals like the Calgary Tower over his beloved home city. Long may he flex his linguistic might!

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