“Wonderful sceneries, wonderful lessons, wonderful events and foremost, wonderful people.”
That is how I would like to characterize what ASEAN Korea Youth Network Workshop has been for me. Held from 10th to 18th of August 2015, ASEAN Korea Youth Network Workshop was a workshop for 100 undergraduate and graduate students from various ASEAN countries and Korea. The students from various countries and academic backgrounds have gathered to represent their countries and share their insights on forest conservation and sustainable development. Co-hosted by the ASEAN-Korea Center and ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation, it also aimed to foster friendship among students from ASEAN countries and Korea; bridging their cultures at the same time.
Personally, to reminisce back at how it all began in the first place for me, it was just a coincidence. While waiting to attend the next class at school, I happened to stumble upon the poster for the workshop on the information board. A workshop to be held in 2 different countries alongside foreigners has definitely caught my eyes. From then on, I started to work on the application form and after spending a lot of effort on it, I was able to receive an acceptance e-mail a few weeks after. It is somewhat funny that that specific moment when I happened to stop by at the poster has led me all the way to a trip to Indonesia and meet all the wonderful and insightful people from various countries.
The workshop was composed of 2 parts. Part 1 was held in Soopchewon, Gangwon province and Seoul; both of which are located in Korea. For the part 2, it was held in Jakarta and Jogjakarta of Indonesia. During part 1, we were categorized into 8 students per group. It was a great opportunity for us to meet people from other countries and familiarize ourselves with other cultures. In soopchewon, we had activities such as forest trekking, UCC making contest, traditional costume contest among others. Meeting people from various countries seemed to be a little unusual and uneasy at first. But as we shared our insights and knowledge about the forest conservation, we were able to realize that we have all gathered together to meet a common goal; and that we all do share a common vision.
After spending two nights in Soopchewon, we headed to Seoul for the research trip. We grouped ourselves into 5 participants per group with a blend of Koreans and ASEAN students. We, as Korean students helped ASEAN students tour around Seoul and visited various tourist spots within Seoul. For my group, we were composed of 3 Koreans and 2 ASEAN students. After some heated debate amongst Koreans on where we could find and visit genuine Korea within a limited period of time, we have decided to visit the Bukchon Hanok Village to take a look at the traditional Korean housings. After visiting the place, we went to Samcheongdong to have some traditional Korean desserts (bingsoo) and as gwanghwamun was nearby, we also took some pictures by the statue of King Sejong. Lastly, we had some traditional Korean food (Jjimddak) for our dinner before getting ourselves ready for the trip to Indonesia.
After spending 3 days of fun in Korea, we headed to Indonesia the next morning. As we arrived in Indonesia late in the afternoon, we had some rest that day and continued to move on to our schedule the very next day. In Jakarta, we visited the ASEAN headquarters and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia. From the lectures and talks held at those locations, we were able to learn more about ASEAN and what the member states are doing to preserve the forest. We were even able to ask some questions about the topic and received great feedbacks from the experts of the matter.
After spending some time in Jakarta, we all headed to Jogjakarta which was the main venue for the 2nd part of the program. In Jogjakarta, we were invited to talks with the professors from the faculty of forestry in Gadjah Mada University and had various cultural activities such as Batik making and forest tour. From the talks by the professors of Gadjah Mada University, we were able to learn what Gadjah Mada University is doing to help preserve the nature and what are the things we can do to help preserve the nature. Additionally, from the cultural activities such as the Batik making, we were able to learn more about the traditional culture of Indonesia.
Aside from the educational talks and cultural activities, we concluded our trip by spending a day visiting the Prambanan temple and Borubudur temple in Jogjakarta which are UNESCO’s world heritage. Prambanan temple’s extraordinary structural design was stunning and Borubudur temple’s enormous size and delicacy was definitely one of its kind. Both of the tourist sites were marvelous and they definitely made us stand in awe of its extravagance.
The entire trip was quite hectic and schedule was fully packed at some points. However, spending such time with great lectures and sharing ideas with such great minds from various countries have definitely made me lose the track of time and it still feels like it has only lasted for a day or two. Around 2 weeks have passed since we have bid our farewells. However, the friendship we have shared beyond our cultures still remain deep in our hearts. Even though the workshop has lasted for just a little more than a week, the ideas and memories we have shared together would always be remembered.
I would also like to use this opportunity to give thanks to his Excellency Kim Young-sun, the Secretary-General for ASEAN-Korea Center and his Excellency Dr. Hadisusanto Pasaribu who is the executive director for ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation. I would also like to give thanks to all of the friends I have met during the workshop as well as the facilitators and staffs who have worked so hard to make this event possible. It was definitely a workshop like no other.
Kamsahamnida, Terima Kasih!
Lee Sungbeom, ASEAN-Korea Youth Network Workshop 2015 participant