▲ Organizer Koh Eun-Kyoung (left) on the stage with ??? (right). Photo by The Jeju Weekly
International development professionals were invited from across Korea to talk to Jeju students about the value of international service on Nov. 11 at Jeju National University. The event was sponsored by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and organized by Korea Overseas Volunteers Association (KOVA), KOICA Jeju Community and local NGO, Global Inner Peace.
Held in the Liberal Arts Building at Jeju National University, the event sought to increase interest in international development work among Korean youth.
KOICA is the Korean government’s official ODA (overseas development aid) arm and through World Friends Korea sends almost 5,000 volunteers around the world every year. All of the speakers had such international experience ranging from Africa and the Middle East to South Asia.
Hur Sung Yong was one such speaker and seeks to challenge misunderstandings around Africa through events held by his Seoul NGO, Africa Insight. He was inspired on his mission after working in countries such as Tanzania and Senegal.
▲ Africa Insight founder Hur ??? spoke of the need to challenge misconceptions around the continent. Photo by The Jeju Weekly
“I found that in relationships with local people there was something missing in international development... the intention was there, but they lacked understanding of local culture and people’s needs,” he said.
Africa Insight now works alongside African embassies and even the Museum of African Art in Jungmun to cut through the negative stereotypes propagated by media such as war, conflict and disease. Hur says it is most fulfilling to see students' positive reactions to his work: “It is step by step, but there is a change,” said Hur.
Jo Aea young of Jeju Hope Ribbon, a social welfare organization, was another speaker at the event. Jo, who has experience doing community devel-opment work in Jordan, echoed Hur in stressing the importance of exposure to other peoples and cultures in creating a more open and welcoming society, and developing the individual.
“They should embrace it as a challenge, and breath it all in. It is a form of edu-cation to go into the world and volunteer ... and they can keep those experiences with them throughout their lives,” she added.
Students attending the event mirrored Jo’s sentiment as they spoke of being moved by the volunteers’ experiences. Bek Gyeongmin, a first-year political science major, said she had been inspired to go on her own “life-changing adventure” after hearing the lectures. Another student, You So-yeon, said she was grateful the speakers had come to Jeju to share their stories, adding:
“I am quite sure now that I want to volunteer abroad. I realized that there are many opportunities available to me.”
For more information contact Koh Eun-Kyoung of Global Inner Peace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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