“What can I gain in just 3 days?” That was the question that played through my mind when I was told that I was chosen for the inbound program in the ASEAN-Korean Youth Network Workshop 2015. For some people, 3 days might not be enough. Some may think that nothing can be gained within that short period of time. For me, it made me pump with excitement and in the end, I have actually thought that joining this was one of the most memorable experience ever. How memorable was it? Well, here are the 4 things that made it unforgettable.
1. Expanding my social circle with diversity
Not even for once I thought that I could experience such diversity in my social circle. Before this, my social circle was limited to mostly Malaysians. So when I came to the orientation which was held in ASEAN-Korea Centre on the 13th of July 2015, I was bouncing off the walls but at the same time, I had butterflies flying in my stomach because I finally got the chance to get out of my comfort zone and actually mingle with people from other countries, thanks to this workshop. To my surprise, everyone was very friendly and welcoming! During the whole workshop, I am glad to say that I have mingled with almost everyone. We shared laughters and stories. For me, I loved listening to whatever stories they have while sharing mine. Conversing was incredibly fun since I have actually had the chance to listen to various stories about their country.
2. Seeing, Feeling and Experiencing ASEAN and Korea
It was no doubt that this workshop provided us the opportunity to show our culture to everyone, that is during my favorite segment of the whole workshop, the ASEAN music party and fashion show! It opened opportunities for us to show the beauty of each country through the exquisiteness and the remarkable designs of traditional clothes. Walking into the hall really felt like going to a parade. The atmosphere was really joyous because of all of the participants wearing the colorful traditional costumes. Coming from Borneo (Sarawak), I had the opportunity to introduce part of my culture through our traditional “Baju Burung”. Sharing my culture has been one of my favorite things to do. In addition, I also enjoyed various treats brought by participants from their respective countries and the performances they showcased. Trying something new was a bit nerve-wrecking, however I am delighted to say that I enjoyed everything that was served. Thank you everyone for the opportunity to experience all of these. Apart from the music party, I also had the chance to learn something new throughout the program. I was quite a caveman before this but after this workshop I finally discovered that Laotian and Thais have quite similar language. I was really impressed when I watched Jamal (Thailand) and Souliaphon (Laos) speak to each other. I was also amazed when I listened to people of respective countries talking in their mother tongue. Like killing two birds with one stone, I have also learned a bit of Cambodian and Thai while also teaching Malay to some of my friends. Language exchange was incredibly fun.
3. Unity In Diversity
“Unity in diversity”. It is amazing how all of the activities done were right on track with ASEAN-Korea ‘s motto. From the online activity alone, it was visible that diversity brought the best out of teamwork. I loved the diversity we had in each group. However, what impressed me the most is how teamwork was cultivated despite the diversity in culture and ideas. The level of tolerance and respect each participants had with each other really illustrated how well the relationship that each country has. Apart from that, it pushed everyone to do their best in every group activity. It could be seen especially in the UCC video making competition. The ideas each team had and the effort that everyone gave in the making of a great video were incredible. Some even skipped dinner just so that they could create the best video. From what I saw, it was worth it. I personally believe that everyone was a winner in this challenge. Speaking about my team, we have had a lot of fun while filming our video. I applaud all of the members of my team, Team Avengers for the efforts given in creating our compelling video. (Link for our team’s video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G0YZPkr9GQ)
4. Doing the impossible and gaining knowledge
I have actually accomplished a lot of things apart from making friends, thanks to this workshop. First of all, I finally had the chance to go to Gangwon Province! Before this I actually thought it was impossible for me to go there since I rarely had traveled around. To make it more memorable, that was the first trip ever out of Seoul after a year. Apart from that, meeting the Executive Director of ASEAN-Korea Forest Cooperation Secretariat (AFoCo), Dr. Hadisusanto Pasaribu and the Secretary General of ASEAN-Korea Centre, Mr. Kim Young-sun, was really amazing. The opportunity to listen to Dr. Hadi Susanto Pasaribu’s lecture was one of the highlights of the whole program. We were given lectures about the destruction of forests and also the effort AFoCo has done in sustaining the forest. “Youth in the Forefront of Forest Conservation in ASEAN & Korea” was the motto set for the whole workshop. Based on the lectures given, I personally believe that my knowledge about forestry has expanded after listening to the lectures and also from the online activities. Apart from that, the Five Senses activities also brought us nearer to the forests. I never thought that I would be hiking in Korea, however through the Five Senses activity not only did we get to hike up the forest in Soopchewon, we also played games that test our teamwork and apparently our senses too.
In conclusion, I have achieved a lot of things throughout my participation in the inbound program. My goals of sharing and learning culture, making friends from diverse countries and expanding my knowledge on forestry and environment were achieved throughout the 3 days. I personally believe the friendship that was fostered during the workshop will be eternal based on how we bonded with each other. For me, the goodbye was one of the hardest thing. Getting all the hugs and messages from the other participants on my last day could be the start of a long lasting friendship. Not forgetting the experience that I never thought that I could get makes my stay in Korea even more memorable. My sincerest gratitude to the ASEAN-Korea Center and AFoCo for this experience. Last but not least, we have managed to cultivate youth in the forefront of forest conservation in ASEAN and Korea and also achieved unity in diversity.
John Anak Ramsay, ASEAN-Korea Youth Network Workshop 2015 participant