On the weekend of Oct. 8, Jeju’s Furey Foundation hosted its 6th Beach Volleyball Tournament, one of the biggest foreigner events on the island. More than 250 people attended and almost 5 million won was raised for charity.
Behind the fun and friendly competition of these bi-annual tournaments, however, there is always a lot of hard work. Until now, the labor has been shouldered by a small group of devoted foreigners. This year marked the beginning of a unique collaboration between the Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) and the Furey Foundation.
The JDC is a government sponsored organization whose mission is to build Jeju’s future infrastructure for both tourism and development, as well as promote social welfare programs and build a friendlier community for both foreigners and Koreans.
▲ Photo courtesy Albert Oh
▲ Photo courtesy Albert Oh
Recently, the JDC became interested in getting more involved in programs that both strengthen the community and allow Koreans and foreigners to work together. In accordance with this mission, they offered their assistance with the volleyball tournament, and are also hosting an “I Love Jeju” art festival.
Albert Oh, an assistant project manager with the JDC, has acted as the liaison and catalyst for this corroboration. Oh believes that “events that build a meaningful relationship between local foreigners and Koreans are definitely beneficial and will produce a healthier culture.”
At the upcoming art festival, artwork by local foreigners demonstrating their love for Jeju will be displayed. Oh hopes that this will allow Koreans “to realize that the foreigners are not just strangers, but are also local in this community – that they consider this island a second home and really love being here.” To Oh’s knowledge, Jeju is the “longest duration destination for foreigners” in all of South Korea.
For the volleyball tournament, the JDC sent approximately 20 employees to assist with cleaning the sand courts at Iho Beach – a very time and labor intensive task. Daniel Nabben, the founder and head of the Furey Foundation, volunteers countless of hours of his time to prepare for each Furey event. He estimates that it took 150 hours of sifting sand to get the courts prepared for this volleyball tournament, due to an unusually high amount of debris. He said that he and his small team of volunteers could not have done it alone and called the JDC’s help “inexplicably vital.”
According to Nabben, this type of assistance is “critical” for the growth of both the Furey Foundation and the volleyball tournaments, as he has “maxed-out” the hours that he can devote personally. Going forward, the Foundation is going to need a lot of help, particularly ”from bilingual people, and people in the right positions who can make things happen, to get more people on board and help in the promotion,” and this is a step in the right direction.
The JDC also paid for a bulldozer to help flatten the sand for the courts, donated 30 stainless steel camping cups for the raffle, and even entered a team in the tournament.
▲ Photo courtesy Albert Oh
Nabben explained why the help provided by the JDC was so important, saying, “It's not the hours so much as the hassle and stress. Having to meet these officials each and every time and explain the event each and every time (because they so frequently get shuffled around), is excruciating.”
“Whereas this time around, when they sent the wrong machine, Albert and his bosses were right there and got on the phone and fixed it. I could never do that,” he said.
It also attests to the growth and influence of the Furey Foundation to have such a large organization on board. When asked what it meant to him, Nabben said, “It reflects the good job Jeju Furey's done up to this point... it means we're starting to build a brand and develop a reputation as a group that is able to gather a lot of people (particularly foreigners) together through fun events, and for a good cause. [It] says a lot about what the foundation means to the community.”
The JDC’s perspective was positive as well. Oh said, “It was really nice to see local foreigners and local corporations work together to support the poor and needy people on the island. I haven’t seen such types of events before, unless it’s about corporations donating funds or cultural exchanges. It meant a lot to me, and I hope it did to the other people involved.” He also said that he is “optimistic” about the JDC’s involvement in future Furey events.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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