When I received the e-mail that I have been chosen as one of the participants of the 2015th ASEAN-Korean Youth Network Workshop I was beyond excited. It was my first workshop out of Malaysia. On the 9th August of 2015 I flew from my hometown of Kota Kinabalu to Seoul with transits at Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. Once I reached the Incheon International Airport I was warmly greeted by the secretariat members and other ASEAN participants. It was the first meeting with the other ASEAN participants and we exchange greetings and stories with laughters in the bus going to Soopchehwon in Gangwon Province.
Stepping into Soopchehwon was an amusing experience. The fact that the forest surrounded the place is a restored forest is very surprising. This is because the forest looks so natural and well established. We have done a lot of activities in Soopchehwon which includes five senses forest experience and mission impossible which have brought all the participants one step forward towards the nature. In five sense forest experience we were put in a small groups and discover the forest surrounded the Soopchehwon with the guide from the local forester. The forester explained about the herbs, trees and shrubs along the trail and gave a chance to us to try the local traditional games. When we played the traditional games we found that there were similarities between the games they played in Korea and other ASEAN countries. During this experience as well I have learnt about the diverse species of shrubs, herbs and trees found along the trail. The forest landscape in Korea is totally different from what we have here in Malaysia. This may be because of the four seasons that they have in Korea which resulted to the existence of same-aged montane forest compared to the dipterocarp forest back in Malaysia.
The mission impossible has brought the participants co-operation spirit. The team was set up with different nationalities so that they can actually work together to solve and accomplised the mission which was like a mission race. We have done a UCC making contest which required each group to make a video with a duration not more than 2 minutes related to the environment or forest. In fact we have won the most creative video award.
In Yogjakarta, Indonesia we were taken to the Wanagama which is an educational and experimental forest. Wanagama experience was very informative and gave us heaps of experience. This Wanagama trip was very meaningful especially for us as a forestry student. Wanagama is also a rehabilitate forest. Our program started with an opening ceremony which includes the planting of teak seedlings to comomerate the 2015th ASEAN-Korean Youth Network Workshop. After lunch, we moved to the Beneran Village and along the way, we were brought to see the soil profile that they have in Wanagama, the teak plantation, the agroforestry practice between teak and other cash crop such as cassava, and rotational planting. These were very educational as I can see and make comparison between the agroforestry and planting practice which they have in Indonesia and Malaysia. In Beneran Village also we were warmly welcomed by the head village and other villagers and were treated with their traditional snacks. After that we have an artistic experience to create our own batik. We were taught how to draw the batik, coloured and dried it in a right way.
The next day we were given a chance to visit the ancient temple Prambanan and Borobudur. Although I have been to these 2 temples before, this time it was more remarkable as we were visiting the temple as a multinational group. The tour guide explained about the historical background of the temple and we learnt a lot from it. In Borobudur temple we were able to enjoy the sunset panoramic view and it was breathtaking.
Through this workshop I have learnt about the difference, similarities, unity and diversification. Not only in the learning aspect but also between the ASEAN and Korea participants. We exchanged and learnt about each other’s culture, language and norms. It was very entertaining seeing us copying each other language with the hope to get closed with each other. After this workshop I felt that I have been richer not in terms of cash but the fact that I have many friends in all over ASEAN and Korea; that was the thing that I treasure the most. While in terms of knowledge I have gain more than what I can learn personally in the classroom. Seeing the forest and practices by myself gave me the real idea on what’s really happening in the field of forestry and agroforestry. These experience was a chance that I don’t think I can get just by watching videos or listening to lectures; I was thankful to the ASEAN-Korea Centre and ASEAN-ROK Forest Corporation, AFoCo on making this workshop into reality.
Isna Zakiah, ASEAN-Korea Youth Network Workshop 2015 participant