It is so appropriate that my last day in Seoul was all about Epilepsy! As you know, I was so impacted last year when I discovered the horrible stigma towards people living with epilepsy. Although we still have progress to make the U.S., the situation is far worse in South Korea! In South Korea, the term for epilepsy is Cerebro Electric Disorder.
In the morning, I spoke at the 22nd Korean Congress to about 100 doctors about how stigma ends the chance of employment. My entire presentation was based on the idea of no shame. I passed out pens that said epilepsy in Korean followed by the English text, "No Shame." I asked all of the doctors to tell their patients. Thank you Epilepsy Foundation of Western and Central PA for providing me with 500 pens to distribute!!
I was very honored to receive the awards and gifts presented to me after the speech. The desire and passion to change this stigma coming from neurologists was overwhelming. This work on ending stigma was the theme of the entire conference. It was wonderful to see the neurologists as the advocates. Dr. Shin, who came to Pittsburgh last year to visit us, wore the Bender Consulting golf shirt we gave him to the morning event; I was overwhelmed! After I spoke, the doctors took me to dinner to thank me again for coming to South Korea. Their appreciation was tremendous.
I must take time to thank Jenifer Bochner and the U.S. State Department’s International Information Programs, for their commitment to have the U.S. continue to change the world. I am proud to work with them; I am proud to be an American who wants to help our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
As usual, it is sad for me to say good bye to my wonderful friends from the Embassy in South Korea. This time, they said, “Not goodbye, but, see you again!”