[2018 ASEAN-KOREA YOUTH NETWORK WORKSHOP MEMOIR] Significantly Embedded
2018 ASEAN-Korea Youth Network Workshop
I woke up with a jolt as the flight was going through bad weather and the nerves in my stomach rose as I was aware that we were landing soon. On the 2nd of July, the musky air of Seoul welcomed me as I landed in Incheon International Airport. Beside me, dragging along his suitcase heading out of the airport is my fellow comrade, Hakim, with half-opened eyes, unfamiliar with his surroundings and excited for the adventure that awaits us.
reach the hotel. Unfamiliar but happy faces welcomed us and we were given a bag filled with goodies, lunch was served and everyone had to get ready for the day and wear our best formal attire for the opening ceremony. At this time, I was sort of familiar with some of them as we had small talk during lunch, especially Elizabeth, Alfi, Belle and Zatil; a fellow Malaysian, Indonesian and Bruneians that are based in South Korea for their studies.
I fell asleep as soon as I sat in the bus as we were told it would take us about an hour and a half to reach the hotel. Unfamiliar but happy faces welcomed us and we were given a bag filled with goodies, lunch was served and everyone had to get ready for the day and wear our best formal attire for the opening ceremony. At this time, I was sort of familiar with some of them as we had small talk during lunch, especially Elizabeth, Alfi, Belle and Zatil; a fellow Malaysian, Indonesian and Bruneians that are based in South Korea for their studies.
Everything went by in a blur after that in terms of the logistics but all I could remember was how elated Zatil, Alfi and I were as we were put into the same group, number 10. Alongside my chummy acquaintances, we met Harry and Do Hoon, fellow Korean boys and Yie Mon, the youngest out of us all from Myanmar. We called ourselves the Spicy Chicken just because it was all six people from different countries could think of as a common interest. Lectures were great and incredibly informative for me because as a student that is currently finishing up her Bachelor in Integrated Marketing Communication soon, I felt like it was vital that I learn a thing or two in terms of digitalization and how it plays a huge role in today’s world.
Kudos to the organizers for coming up with activities or else I would be one of those people that would sleep in the lectures and receive death stares. There were a lot of missions given and some site visits to educate us. One of the most memorable one was when we went to visit Samsung D’light because not only am I a fan of the brand from the beginning, but being able to visit the exhibition place where all Samsung gadgets were laid out for us to experience was similar to the situation of giving a candy to a child. My eyes glassed over in excitement and I could not stop smiling out of excitement the whole time we were there.
I knew what Samsung was and how it came to be, the level of passion I have for the brand was evident when I had to write a paper on what Samsung is all about for one of my subjects back in my University. However, to be able to play around and experience the whole technology first-hand was something I can still vividly remember to this day.
We played around with Virtual Reality (VR), supported our teammates in a virtual rowing competition and the highlight of it all for me was when we were given a wrist tag where our picture was taken for the first step and then there were multiple activities we had to take part in as they measured our characteristics. This goes to show on how incredible technology is as it links with human characters based on the symbols and shapes that we chose on each activity.
The next activity that was really interesting and exciting to me was when we were given the chance to wear the traditional attire, hanbok, and was given a very easy mission to just take lots of photographs with the group that we are in and submit it for a recap photo for the day. The girls supported one another by choosing just the right amount of pattern and colour for one another to make sure everyone looks their best. It was really heart-warming to see a bunch of girls who are not exactly close to one another a few days before to support and compliment each other.
As soon as we got to the palace, each group dispersed and got on with the mission we were given. There were a lot of poses being done, some were hilarious and some filled with character. Not only were we able to experience the traditional attire, we also got the chance to experience the Gyeongbokgung Palace which was the main royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty. It was also very pleasing on the eyes on how each colour of every roof and angle of palace’s architecture complemented the bright blue sky that we were blessed with on that day.
At 4 in the morning on Saturday, my friends and I all had bloodshot eyes and were dragging our luggage to check out from the hotel as we had a flight to catch to Manila, Philippines; the second leg of the workshop. Some made small talk and some were called a zombie with the way we covered ourselves up, clad in sweaters and comfy pants. Everything went by in fast paced as soon as the bus took off from our hotel in Myeongdong. We all woke up, groggy and collected our luggage to check into our flight.
We reached Manila and were welcomed with the humid air and congested traffic. Lunch was then served and everyone ate with so much vigour, it was hilarious just thinking about it. We then checked into our hotel and got ready with our best formal attire for the opening ceremony session at UPAC Auditorium. There, we met up with a new addition to Spicy Chicken and a fellow Filipino, Flor. We introduced ourselves and exchanged formalities. Also, we talked non-stop in the bus ride to dinner at Provinciano Restaurant, which according to the Dean, was going to be a ‘night of celebration’.
I did not understood what he meant by that at first, but as soon as we entered the restaurant, live local music was played to welcome us to our first ever dinner in Quezon City, Manila. As a Muslim during this trip, we were given the upper hand on being able to sit together with our fellow Muslim friends, which were called The Halal Gang. By sitting together for each meal we had, I made more new friends and created bonds during the workshop with fellow Bruneians, Syu and Dalina, and other Indonesian friends Mel and Afi.
During the dinner, The Halal Gang got given a seat near the live music and was treated with halal food which includes fried rice, which was gone in seconds as it reminded all of us of home. There was also deep fried fish, fried noodles and vegetables. All of the food went by in seconds and we were fortunate enough to get second servings afterwards.
The atmosphere was great, accompanied with good food, good friends and great music. Some of the music played was actually some local childhood songs that us Malaysians and Bruneians actually sang along to, which got us some happy glances from everyone else in the restaurant. It was a memorable activity for me because not only did they make the effort to know the songs of our childhood/home country, we were also able to teach our fellow friends in the workshop those songs that brought meaning to our own ethnic background.
The next day, we were told to get ready and make sure to leave the hotel we stayed at in Manila by 7.30 AM as we had a long trip to our site visit. When I asked how long it will take, they said it would be around 3-4 hours bus ride. Everyone in the bus was briefed on what Manila was about by the guide and all of us exchanged ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in return.
After a few minutes, the bus got quiet and my seatmate, Syu, slowly fell asleep. I joined the whole bus soon after that. When we woke up, everyone was just restless and excited as we were near the beach already and heading towards antique looking houses. The microphone crackled and the guide welcomed us to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, an open air-museum and heritage collection of houses in Bataan, Philippines.
I have always been a sucker for old architecture and its history, thus the idea that I was there to visit old remains of what made Philippines was a very special experience, to say the least. The whole vibe of the place sort of has a mixture of South East Asia influences mixed with a European flair. There was a bridge that we had to cross over the river that connected to the sea, and the bridge with its lamp post reminded me so much of Prague. Each building had its own significant meaning, character and was special in its own way. We got the opportunity to also get a boat cruise, a guided tour, a horse carriage and also to ride in a Jeepney which was prominent symbol of the Philippines.
One of the many reasons that Las Casas is in my list was also because after being together with our own groups for a whole week, we finally had the chance to test our teamwork. There was a sports team building event where everyone had to take part. I have never seen such hilarious and supporting bunch of people in one setting, it was heart-warming. Everyone supported one another despite being in different teams and everyone cheered and laughed together. Our team, Spicy Chicken, did actually win second place for all the games as we had two very enthusiastic Korean boys who kept on leading us to the end. We ended the day at Las Casas with a dinner which was supposed to be by the beach; however there was a typhoon warning so we had to move location indoors. The Halal Gang got served the food we ordered and we shared pizzas that left us all salivating for more. We shared stories of what we did during the day amongst each other and laughed until our cheeks and stomach hurt.
All the activities we did during the Workshop definitely taught me a lot more than I expected it to and the fun times we had outside the Workshop which include face masks night with the girls, karaoke session in Myeongdong until one of us cried, last minute shopping in Myeongdong on our last night, introducing Ewha shopping street to Dalina, laundry shenanigans back in Guro-gil, late-night work submission with the team and bonding session in their rooms is definitely something that I will bring with me as we go on our own separate ways.
To Spicy Chicken, my fellow group mates from Day One; Alfiana, Kim Do Hoon, Florante, Harry Kim Hyun Woo, Yie Mon and Farahiyah (Zatil), thank you for teaching me things I did not know about the world and also supporting me throughout the Workshop and giving me your trust with our daily recap videos.
To The Halal Gang, you guys know how much I appreciate each one of you and the times we shared a meal and made sure everyone of us had enough food, I will definitely remember the excitement we shared when we could eat halal food.
To the mentors and everyone that participated in the Workshop, thank you for bringing joy into my life for the past 11 days. Your antics, stories and vibrant personality touched me in ways you could never imagine.
For the whole whirlwind of 11 days, the Asean-Korea Youth Network Workshop has brought
me a deeper insight into the developments of the world and how things are constantly
changing for the better. It has also taught me on how sometimes, family does not mean
having a blood relation as the people I have met during the Workshop have become people I
hold close to my heart.
Here is to the future of us, the youth of digitalization!