Seoul Story – Day 5: September 7, 2007

After two days of trying to get a good shot, I finally managed to take several decent images of one of the non-step buses with its ramp deployed. When picking up or dropping off passengers in wheelchairs, the height of the bus is lowered. The entrance/exit side is then “kneeled” to match the height of the kerb and the ramp is deployed. A wheelchair user can then get into the bus with little effort.

We arrived at KINTEX early again. With time in hand, I decided to explore the vast ground outside the complex. When I say vast, it really is. I was also pleasantly surprised by the abundance of accessible parking at the car park. I was in for another pleasant surprise when I caught sight of Ai-Chan getting off one of the shuttle buses. She was scheduled to speak in one of the workshops on that day.

The day passed quickly as I attended one workshop to another. In between, that, I managed to squeeze some time to visit a few of the activities organised on the sidelines to keep delegates entertained while they are not attending any of the workshops. There were clowns sculpting balloons, caricature artists and day tours to the DMZ and other places of interests around Seoul.

The day did not end at the conclusion of all the workshops for the day. Many of us stayed back to attend the Global Summit on Independent Living. Among the highlight of the Summit was the unanimous support by all the delegates present to the proposal by Shoji Nakanishi to establish the Global Independent Living Network. He had earlier this year established the Asia-Pacific Network in Independent Living Centres (APNIL).

I was also one of the speakers at the Summit on IL in Asia-Pacific presenting the development of the Independent Living Movement in Malaysia similar to the presentation I did the day before. My fellow speakers were Udomchok Churut from Thailand, Muhammad Shafiq-ur-Rehman from Pakistan, Abner Manlapaz from the Philippines and Ko Kwan-Chul from Korea.

Although I have conducted trainings and spoke in many seminars on Independent Living, I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Before me were my peers who have experience working in the movement for decades. Compared to them, the two years of my involvement made me feel like a kid on his first day of school. I am grateful for Shoji Nakanishi for giving me the opportunity to address such an esteemed audience.

The last event was a cake cutting ceremony to celebrate the successful conclusion of the Summit where all delegates grouped together before the stage as a sing of solidarity. Sitting there on the stage watching camera flashes going off in all direction and the seeming chaotic celebration of so many disabled persons gave me a sense of hope that we can accomplish great things if we put our hearts to it.

Non-step bus with the ramp deployed
Non-step bus with the ramp deployed.

Wheelchair user boarding the non-step bus
Boarding the non-step bus in my wheelchair.

KINTEX
KINTEX.

KINTEX
KINTEX.

KINTEX
KINTEX.

Accessible parking at KINTEX
Accessible parking at KINTEX.

Ai-Chan, Peter Tan, Hata and and unknown participant
Aiko Tsutsumi, Peter Tan, Hiroaki Furihata and an unknown person outside KINTEX.

Peter Tan at KINTEX
Peter Tan at KINTEX.

Jung Woon-dae and Peter Tan at KINTEX
Jung Woon-dae of Ablenews and Peter Tan at KINTEX.

Jung Woon-dae, Hiroko Fujimoto and Peter Tan at KINTEX
Jung Woon-dae of Ablenews, Hiroko Fujimoto and Peter Tan at KINTEX.

Disability Film Screening
Disability Film Screening during the 7th DPI World Assembly.

Caricature artist
Posing with the caricature artist. Unfortunately I misplaced the caricature.

Low-protein lunch Korean-style
What I had for lunch everyday – low-protein meal Korean-style.

Dr. Glen White giving a presentation on the management of Independent Living Centres
Dr. Glen White giving a presentation on the management of Independent Living Centres.

Peter Tan speaking at the Global Summit on Independent Living
Speaking at the Global Summit on Independent Living.

Celebrating the conclusion of the successful Global Summit on Independent Living
Celebrating the conclusion of a successful Global Summit on Independent Living.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.