▲ Ahnam Kim (far left) and Dr. Im Ae Duck (far right) hilighting the cause of the haenyeo. Photo courtesy BPW Jeju
This opinion piece was written by Ahnam Kim, of Young BPW Jeju Club and Ewha Woman's Univeristy.
The Importance of cultural heritage can never be exaggerated. Jeju Island is internationally recognized for its natural beauty, but its cultural value tends to be underestimated. Our precious heritage, haenyeo (women divers), are now under threat of losing their distinctiveness due to Japanese political and diplomatic movements to register ama, Japanese women divers, as world cultural heritage.
Therefore, the International Federation of Business and Professonal Women (BPW International) Jeju Club (president: Dr. Im Ae Duck) is emphasizing the role of youth in preserving Jeju haenyeo culture and heritage and urging their participation in increasing international recognition of Jeju haenyeo.
Marie Claude Machon, BPW International UN Representative (UNESCO-Education sector), took part in the 28th BPW International Congress haenyeo session and showed great interest in Jeju haenyeo. She connected BPW Jeju Club and the UNESCO NGO Committee, which ultimately allowed for BPW Jeju to promote Jeju haenyeo at the third International Forum of NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO. This was held Sept. 28 to 30 in Sofia and Sozopol, Bulgaria, under the theme “The Role of Youth for the Safeguarding of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage.”
BPW Jeju president, Dr. Im Ae Duck, presented the efforts and goals of BPW Jeju along with the active and voluntary participation of youth in preserving the cultural heritage of the haenyeo community. Through the autonomous Haenyeo School and Haenyeo Culture Interpreter Course, BPW Jeju is increasing pulic awareness of Jeju haenyeo as a professional career, and allowing the younger generation to re-evaluate the value of haenyeo. Along with in-depth studies and personal interviews, young students learn how haenyeo overcome poverty with their strong spiritual grounding.
As a young member of BPW, I would like to suggest young students like myself take more active interest in our own cultural heritage so it is not stripped of its identity and undervalued. It is the younger generation's obligation and privilege to protect and identify our own culture.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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