Ora et labora

Agape international has been inviting North Korean specialists  Switzerland for further education for many years already. Much more than one hundred persons have been able to see a new world, further their professional and personal experience, and applied what they have learned in their home.

When we meet with former interns, we reminisce, send our greetings and take note of the fact that the time spent abroad has left precious traces despite not being easy.

A lot of preparation and great persistence is needed before a North
Korean can land in Switzerland. And throughout all the years we have had amazing experiences of seeming impossibilities turning into possibilities. How often did we throw our hands in the air because some bureau required yet another paper, another certification – documents that sometimes did not even exist in the required shape or form!

Sometimes it was the North Koreans than wanted a guarantee
that a visa had actually been granted; sometimes the Swiss retracted
after their initial benevolence and wondered if … if we couldn’t hand in a certification guaranteeing that … For almost every travel project we needed someone who was willing to go the extra mile to make something possible that was not customary. It goes without saying that we never paid bribes, although we do feel as God always sent “angels” in the right moment.

Once an embassy official went to the embassy and issued visas on a
holiday enabling a travel group to catch their flight. Or there was the time when an offcial gave us helpful tips on how to prolong a short work visa for a couple of days so that a North Korean could finish his training.

Do we need these moments to remember that we are not in control?

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