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Category: Interviews / Reports

Interview with Sarah Hyun-Young (Samsung Reporters)

Interview with Sarah Hyun-Young (Samsung Reporters)

  1. How did you come across this experience?

I actually came across it while going through Instagram. Young Samsung put up an advertisement regarding their program and I saw it on my way to work on the subway. When I saw it, though, I had about 6 hours left until the deadline and so I ran home after work to film a quick one-minute introduction video to apply.

  1. Tell us about the program.

There’s so much to say about the program but its main purpose is to cultivate contents creators. That includes video editing, reporting, writing journals and making card news. We were given three different tasks during the 6-month period of the program and we had the option to choose between the previously mentioned options of contents. Excluding the main purpose of the program, there’s just so much to do such as networking and having the opportunity to go abroad as a reporter representing Samsung.

  1. What motivated you to join the program?

I joined the program because I began having interest in video editing a few months before the application started. While taking an elective course I realized my passion for video editing and I wanted an opportunity to expand my knowledge in the field. Then I coincidentally came across the Young Samsung advertisement and thought this was the perfect opportunity.

  1. What was the preparation and application process?

Like I mentioned, I didn’t have much time to prepare because I didn’t know about the program until about 6 hours before its application deadline. In order to apply, I had to answer two questions regarding business and economics and create a 1-minute video introducing myself. I honestly didn’t prepare much because I didn’t have enough time but I definitely tried my best to include all the positive aspects of myself in that introduction video.

  1. What were some activities you participated in?

There were many activities that were provided by Young Samsung but I wasn’t able to participate in most of them due to my schedule. I was able to participate in the monthly conferences hosted by Young Samsung and of course the opening ceremony and the completion ceremony that lasted two days each. Also, I had the great opportunity to participate in starring for a set video content in Young Samsung called 지식플러스. There were so many other activities such as tickets to soccer games and operas that I regrettably wasn’t able to participate in.

  1. What was the best part of the program? The worst?

The best part of the program was the people. I was able to meet amazing people, especially my team members, the Samsung chiefs and Cheil Worldwide Pros. They were extremely supportive and always tried to find the best way to give us a perfect experience during the 6 months. I think the worst part was doing the tasks itself. Through the program I learned the hard work that goes into editing a short 4-minute video and the difficulties of making it happen from planning, requesting for interviews and re-editing according to the feedback that we received. Since it was my first time “professionally” editing videos, I had a very difficult time. However, now that I look back at it, I think through those hardships I was able to learn and grow a lot in terms of video editing.

  1. Would you recommend this to your friends or other students?

Yes, I strongly recommend this program to everyone. Since only university students are eligible to apply, I think everyone should take this chance and not hesitate to apply. Although it was a long and at times stressful 6 months, there was so much that I learned about myself through this program. Also, meeting people through Young Samsung is a big networking opportunity because the other reporters are so talented and you get to meet people that already have experience in the field. I would recommend this to anyone that has even the smallest interest in content creating.

Sarah currently runs a vlogging channel on Youtube, Sarahlog, and is planning to go on exchange to Germany this September.

 

Interview with the Organizers of Helping Hands Boracay

Interview with the Organizers of Helping Hands Boracay

Kukka Uimonen (DIS, 2016) and Julia Bärlund (Business Administration, 2016) are two of five student organizers of Hanyang University’s “Helping Hands Boracay Program”. Along with one staff member, they led 14 students to Boracay from February 20 to 27, 2018. In the following interview, the two students share their experiences working in the beautiful South-East Asian island.

1. How did you come across this experience?

Kukka: I heard of the competition from Julia. Then I received an email from Hanyang about a Global Volunteering Competition 2017 for full-time foreign students. The email invited students to submit proposals for volunteering projects abroad in order to contribute to the development of communities. It was also a chance to provide learning experiences for the participants. Our team of five Finnish girls got super interested in the competition because none of us had done anything like this before and found it a rare opportunity. We also participated in the Seventeen Hearts Festival where we promoted our program.

Julia: I was visiting the volunteering center for other reasons when I got introduced to this program. I realized this would be a program me and my friends would be interested in taking part in. So after briefly discussing and thinking about it, we decided to start planning our volunteering program proposal.

2. Tell us about the school program and your project.

Kukka: It was the first time the Helping Hands competition was held, and it was a great opportunity for foreign students at Hanyang. There are not many opportunities for foreign students, so we felt that we had to participate. We had to design a volunteering trip abroad, come up with programs, budget, find contacts, etc. Our team had five girls from Finland and we all had our own tasks to take care of. Surprisingly, our team was one of the two winners, so we had to make our proposal into reality, which was a bit more complicated than expected.

Julia: International students were able to make a volunteering program/trip plan for our school’s students according to our interests and realistic opportunities to actually make the plan happen. As it was directed toward international students, we wanted to show our interest in taking part in these kinds of programs. Our project’s main target was to protect the environment by raising awareness about environmental issues especially related to tourism and plastic-use.

3. What motivated you to start the project?

Kukka: I have been interested in environmental issues for some time now, so I wanted to focus on environmental issues in this volunteering trip. Julia and I met some good friends in Boracay in summer 2017 when we visited the island, and these friends told us about the issues there. We also fell in love with the island, so that’s why we decided to select Boracay as our location for the volunteering program. We also wanted to change the stereotypes people have about Boracay, since a lot of Koreans go there for holiday and they might think Boracay is a paradise island without any problems.

Julia: Kukka and I visited Boracay for the first time in the summer of 2017. We were expecting only the tourist location we could see on Facebook, but what we experienced was quite different. We got to know a lot of local people who actually live in Boracay, which let us to see other side of the island and how the massive amount of tourists affect the small island. Anywhere we go on this planet, there is environmental challenges but taking into consideration how many people come to Boracay every year (over 2 million in 2017), we felt that also tourists should realize what kind of consequences their actions might have on the lives of locals. Many people were perplexed about why we chose Boracay as the location to volunteer, but it made a lot of sense to us. It is important to realize that anywhere we go we have responsibilities to the local environment and everything might not be as perfect at it seems on the surface.

4. What was the preparation process leading up to Boracay?

Kukka: We first messaged our close friend in Boracay who works closely with the local government and asked him if it would be possible to go there with our university to do volunteering work. He helped us to get more contacts and then we developed our proposal after talking to them. We met as a team regularly, made plans, and designated roles for each of us. Then we held interviews for Hanyang students who wanted to join our program. After deciding our team members, we held an orientation where we told everyone about Boracay’s situation, our proposal and just hung out as a team. We also maintained communication with our contacts in Boracay and tried to make sure of everything was okay before traveling there. Finally, it was time to leave for Boracay!

5. What were some programs you did in Boracay? Tell us about the issues you were addressing.

Kukka: Our programs consisted of a coastal clean-up, educational program in the Indigenous people’s village, tree-planting, waste management educational lecture, and on-site visit and Red Cross Youth Camp. We had workshops everyday with our team to deepen the learning process and to get closer with each other. We also had a field trip day, where we had a lot of fun but also got to see the sad truth of corals’ current situation. During our trip, we were able to meet important people of Boracay, for example the mayor Ciceron Cawaling.

Our program mostly addressed the trash problem that Boracay (and the world) is facing nowadays. Tourism is important for Boracay’s economy, but it also brings many problems. Because of the high number of visitors Boracay gets on a yearly basis, they suffer from a huge amount of trash, and it is very expensive to bring the trash from the island to the Mainland. So, we wanted to encourage sustainable development on the island to prevent environmental degradation and promote responsible tourism to others and to our participants. One of the highlights from our trip was coastal clean-up, it really opened every participant’s eyes. Everyone realized the seriousness of the problem when we saw the amount of trash on the beach. I hope people realize that we really must start reducing our plastic use in our daily lives.

Julia: Our goals were mostly to raise awareness and to educate people as well as educating ourselves on the way. Our main themes were reducing plastic use, recycling our waste, and reviving nature. For example, coastal clean-up is done every morning on the island but the waves bring trash from the sea the same amount – every single morning. As we started our daily schedule with this activity, I am sure that it also made all of us students realize the seriousness of the issue with plastic and trash since we did not just read about it but actually saw the amount of garbage on the beach: from small candy wrappers to different kinds of shoes. After this experience we were able to educate the children on our workshops as well as in Ati village better, since we saw with our own eyes the problem. Single-use plastics are a huge problem, and all the people should realize this. We also experienced practical activities (e.g. tree planting) which made it easier for us to teach about the issues and made our own learning experience a lot more powerful.

6. How has it been since you came back?

Kukka: The experience really changed my mind-set and gave me a lot of inspiration. I get very anxious when going to E-mart and I see all the fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic individually, or when I order coffee and it’s in a plastic cup with a straw. So, I have been trying my best to recycle, and reduce my plastic use by refusing plastic bags and straws. After this volunteering program, I realized I might want to work with environmental issues in the future after graduating from DIS. I also got new amazing friends from Hanyang, who participated in this program!

Julia: After such a time consuming project, it was weird to be done with it. As we as organizers of this trip learnt a lot, we feel that the HYU students that came with us also learnt a lot. We made new friends and a ton of memories we can never forget. Personally, this opportunity made me even more interested about environmental issues and deepened my passion to find solutions to these urgent matters. I miss Boracay, and especially due to the current situation of the island, I wish I could do more to help the environment and people there.

7. What were some challenges and is there anything you would have done differently?

Julia: It was challenging to manage such a big project for the first time; after all, it was 15 people going as a group this time. As we realize now, we might have divided responsibilities more evenly between the students, but this was also a learning experience for us. We had also some issues related to cultural differences with our contacts in the Philippines, since it was hard to make an exact and detailed schedule without meeting people face-to-face

Kukka: I’d have divided the responsibilities more among the participants. It would also have been handy if one or two of us organizers could have gone to Boracay beforehand to check the schedule and our volunteering locations before the rest of the group arrived.

Julia: Firstly, we could have made more preparations together with all of the students before the volunteering trip. Secondly, I agree with Kukka that two from our group should have gone a few days earlier to the island to make preparations, check the schedules and volunteering locations to avoid uncertainty and last-minute changes. In the end we got to do everything we planned on doing, but maybe next time we would opt for smaller group of people, studying more from different resources as well as being more concentrated on finding long-term future solutions together with the locals for their concerns. But all in all, it is hard to make long-term changes in just one week’s time, so the program should be continuous and long-term to actually achieve these long-term goals. In the end everything turned out well, and the bumps in the road made the trip an even more unforgettable adventure!

8. Do you still follow up with the situation in Boracay?

Kukka: Yes, and it will be very interesting to see what happens in Boracay in the future since it has been gaining a lot of media attention lately. I am also still messaging with my friends in Boracay and trying to get their opinions and updates. The locals are very stressed out and worried about the situation so I hope the best for them. I have really fallen in love with the island and locals there, so I wish I can visit and help them more in the future.

Julia: Yes. As many might have seen from the news, Boracay is going to be closed for six months from the end of April. We hope that it helps the islands situation: we hope that they find solutions and are able to implement them in this short period of time. What I am concerned about though is the fact that there will be a lot of people out of jobs while tourists are not coming to the island. I hope that the government has taken these issues also into consideration, even though I do agree that it is good in the long-term for Boracay to (at least try to) fix the problem with the sewage system.

9. What do you recommend other students do to help your cause?

Kukka: I wish all Hanyang students would consider their consumption habits more and reduce their plastic use. Easy ways to help the environment and oceans is to carry a canvas bag with you everywhere you go, so you don’t need to take plastic bags. Also, by carrying a reusable water bottle to school is a good option so you both save money and the nature by not always buying plastic water bottles. Furthermore, when you travel you can do it eco-friendly. Be a responsible traveler and respect the places and the people you visit.

Julia: The simplest way for everybody to contribute, not only to Boracay’s environmental situation, but to any travel location you visit, is to study about responsible tourism and act accordingly. Do not bring a lot of disposable plastics with you, and make smart, environmentally friendly and ethical choices locally as a consumer. For example, just say no to plastic straws, and carry your own shopping bag so that you do not need to get plastic bags every time you buy something. Big changes start from small actions, and we can all contribute to these problems.

Introducing Prof. Jung Kuk-Mo

Introducing Prof. Jung Kuk-Mo

Please introduce yourself. What do you teach in DIS?

I am a professor of economics in the DIS. Before I joined the DIS last year, I taught economics at Henan University in China. My research interests are in the areas of monetary economics, finance, and international economics. I am currently teaching economics and finance-related subjects in DIS.

How did you become interested in joining the DIS? Was there anything in particular that attracted you to this department?

I had a previous teaching experience in the DIS of Korea University in 2015. I really liked it. Students were quite different from those in other departments I had taught in. They were engaging and challenging. In particular, they were never afraid of arguing with professors, which you won’t find easily in typical Korean universities. Perhaps, it’s just because of their international background. Anyway, I thought I might as well apply to a DIS program in the future. Luckily, Hanyang DIS also wanted me too! So, here I am.

How does teaching in this department differ from your previous experiences?

So far, HYDIS students have really lived up to my expectation. In fact, they were better than I first expected in many aspects. I was used to teaching students majoring in economics. I don’t know why, but those students are quite reserved during lectures even though they are well equipped with quantitative techniques. However, the students in this department are not at all afraid of challenging conventional economic theories and thoughts. For an instructor, these students are really fun to teach, and it motivates me to improve my teaching skills.

Any recommendations to those who want to apply in DIS?

Although I am quite new here, I can already tell such students that they would enjoy a unique and caring educational experience here. It is relatively a small department compared to other social science related schools in Korea, and yet we are full of highly renowned professors with cutting-edge knowledge in their fields. Based on this expertise, we offer a truly interdisciplinary program and collegial atmosphere. These features will surely help students compete in the 4th generation industrial revolution era.

Any advice to current DIS students?

Be yourself and always think the unthinkable. I am already very happy with the way students here study and participate in my classes. But I am sure they can get easily discouraged in the current job market. Even so, I want them to maintain their self-esteem, and never give up on whatever they think is important and interesting. I believe this is the only way for their long-term career success.

Interview with Jaesung Yoon (Korean Chamber of Commerce)

Interview with Jaesung Yoon (Korean Chamber of Commerce)

Please introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Jaesung Yoon. I graduated from Hanyang University in August, 2017 with a bachelor’s in International Studies. I am currently working as an intern in the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KOCHAM) in the USA. Upon termination of my current contract, the performance review that I receive will determine whether I will stay on as a regular employee. In the meantime, I am in the process of exploring other options that will ensure a permanent stay in the United States.

What is your current position and how did you apply for it?

The Korean Chamber of Commerce is situated on Park Avenue in New York. I started working in August but had to arrive in the U.S. a few weeks earlier due to a separate program I did at the UN. My main duties include composing documents and press releases, organizing seminars and conferences, liaison duties, and pretty much any other administrative functions that may fall within the responsibilities of an intern.

I learned about the job opening from the Hanyang Office of International Affairs (a separate entity from the DIS administration office). I had participated in a government-sponsored internship program to the Korean embassy to the Philippines, and upon returning home I was interviewed by the school magazine ‘사랑한대’. Subsequently, the office of international affairs introduced me to a private agency that connects job openings located overseas with Korean students, and after a number of rejections from various organizations, I was able to land a position in the Korean Chamber of Commerce.

What did you learn most from the experience?

Aside from a 6-months internship that I did for the Korean embassy, this is the first time that I will be staying in a foreign country for a long period of time. So pretty much every day is filled with new experiences. Perhaps the biggest perk of being affiliated with KOCHAM is that due to the nature of my work, I get to meet high-ranking managers of Korean businesses, and the American counterparts from the private/governmental sectors that they interact with. KOCHAM has regional offices in Michigan, Georgia and Washington aside from the headquarters in New York, and its main function is to advance the trade and business relations between Korea and the U.S. by way of managing a complicated network involving corporations, financial institutions, non-profits, and the governments of both countries. So the work demands a lot of careful attention, and there is no compromise regarding even the slightest errors. But it’s very interesting and exciting.

What kinds of difficulty did you experience while engaging in this work?

The application process and requirements for working in an American company (or a Korean entity located in America) is very different from working for a company in Korea. If you desire to go abroad for employment, I suggest you consult with people and organizations that have had previous experience.

It may seem unclear where to start, but there are many people who are willing to help students if only they have the enthusiasm to dedicate themselves in these endeavors. There are of course, various contingencies involved, many of which are beyond your control.

It certainly is a risk to allocate your time and energy in trying to go abroad, and there is a considerable chance that you may not succeed, despite your best efforts. You also need to take into account the requirements for relocation, tasks such as obtaining a visa, long-term accommodations, a local bank account, which are just a small sample of the numerous things you have to prepare. So if and when you consider a career path such as mine, I would say the most important difficulty would be making sure you have a lot of options, to arrange a plan B and C in case your most preferred course does not work out. Consult with your professors, your fellow students, your department office, private agencies, and others. It’s important to avoid having all your eggs in one basket.

How did DIS major help attribute to your career?

The Division of International Studies is, in my opinion, vastly unappreciated compared to the considerable potential it can have to its students. For me personally, the DIS significantly improved my command of the English language, and provided me with the principle knowledge and insight required for an international career track.

One of the biggest advantages of the DIS is that its curriculum encompasses a wide range of different subjects, including politics, diplomacy, economics, management, marketing, law, and so many more. Though this broad spectrum brings with it the side effect that there is a limitation in the depth of education the school can provide to each subject, I believe the option itself, to be able to choose which field you feel more comfortable with after having the chance to explore them, is a privilege very few students have access to.

Of course, it should also go without saying that a background in International Studies gives a certain advantage in applying for positions and programs overseas. I have participated in short- and long-term programs for NGOs, diplomatic missions, the UN, and now the Korean Chamber of Commerce to the U.S., and these opportunities would have been much harder to seize had I not been a student of the DIS.

For those of you seeking tips on what kind of courses to take to advance your competencies in such a direction, I would recommend that you direct your attention to courses provided by Professor Ryoo, Professor Ahn, and Professor Saxer. Although all courses in the DIS are indispensable, I have found that the lectures from these professors have greatly enhanced my comprehension of management, economics, and political science respectively.

Any further recommendations for DIS students?

I would advise DIS students to never neglect the value of human networks and relationship management.

I am aware that networking is frowned upon by some people, and I myself belonged to that opinion for quite some time. I am not proud to admit this, but I alienated myself from fellow students and their community after finishing my military service. But all the experiences that I’ve garnered were made possible by what few people that I knew. Their opinions regarding my capabilities turned out to be very important. I cannot imagine what kind of accomplishments I could have achieved had I valued relationships at an earlier age.

I strongly recommend DIS students to make a constant effort to manage this intangible resource, to maintain a constructive link with the people you meet in your lives.

If there are any students who would like to consult with me, feel free to contact me at jyoon0515@gmail.com. It will be my pleasure to help fellow DIS students in any way that I can.

Interview with Garam Seok (Pyeongchang Winners)

Interview with Garam Seok (Pyeongchang Winners)

Please describe the activity you participated in.

I worked as a university student reporter for “PyeongChang Winners”, a publication for the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. This activity lasted for 6 months from June to December 2016. The activity focused on promoting the upcoming Games and the student reporters uploaded articles regarding various events leading up to PyeongChang 2018 or interviews with Winter Olympians and members from the Korean National Team. PyeongChang Winners also had the privilege of participating in various promotional events of PyeongChang 2018. In addition, we carried out team projects publicizing the Olympics via social network services.

What motivated you to apply for this activity?

I have always been an avid fan of sports, ever since I was young. I remember watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics and waiting for live matches in front of the TV as well as waking up at dawn to cheer for Yuna Kim and the Korean National Short Track Speed Skating Team during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Simply put, my persisting passion for the Olympics motivated me to apply for this activity. Moreover, I wanted to contribute my writing skills in any way possible so as to promote PyeongChang 2018 as a Korean and a sports lover.

What did you learn from this activity?

Working with PyeongChang Winners was an invaluable experience for me because I was able to improve not only my interpersonal skills, but also my communication skills. Cooperating with group members to create media contents and directly contacting winter sports athletes enabled me to gradually achieve and enhance these skills.

What was the most memorable incident throughout the activity?

Looking back upon the activities and events I’ve experienced and attended, it is definitely difficult to decide a single memorable experience. A few events that stick with me even to this day are meeting the Korean figure skater Yuna Kim and attending the PyeongChang 2018 news anchor appointment ceremony of the main Korean TV networks (SBS, KBS, MBC). Meeting Yuna Kim and the news anchors I’ve only seen on TV was a dream come true for me.

What difficulties did you experience?

There were times when interview requests were declined. This was one difficulty I had to deal with. However, this type of obstacle is one that professional reporters face frequently and I considered it as a valuable experience for my future.

Would you recommend this activity to other university students?

Unfortunately, although I would definitely recommend this activity to other university students, the the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee is no longer selecting students for PyeongChang Winners. However, other forms of support for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games would be very much appreciated!

Interview with Jungyun Choi (UK Student Exchange)

Interview with Jungyun Choi (UK Student Exchange)

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Jungyun Choi and I am currently a senior student in the Division of International Studies. I studied in Leeds, United Kingdom, for a semester as an exchange student majoring in Performance and Cultural Industries. The courses I took were in musical theatre, event management, and performance workshops. I enjoyed learning about British theatre and British culture during my time in Leeds.

What made you want to study as an exchange student?

Traveling and studying in a new environment were the two major reasons why I applied for the exchange program. As a person who loves to travel, I had a strong desire to live abroad for six months. Additionally I knew that the cultural and artistic experiences that I would have in Europe would be very beneficial as well. I visited five countries and 42 cities during my time in the UK, trying to make the most out of the time. One place that I would recommend for all visitors to the UK is Seven Sisters, where you can see beautiful chalk cliffs. Another reason why I chose to participate in the program was because I wanted to experience studying in a foreign university. I not only wanted to see how students abroad study, but also wanted to experience their university life. Besides, theatre is a field that originates from the UK, so it felt right to go and learn and experience the theatre culture there. I loved going to theatres to watch musicals or plays with friends while traveling in different cities in the UK.

What was the most memorable moment abroad?

My favorite moment was when I got to perform in a play called “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.” This was my first time acting in front of an audience, and my team worked so hard to make this show happen. Before the show started and the audiences started coming in, the cast would get together and perform a special ritual to get us all started and ready for the show. I would never forget all the work and effort put into the production by all of my classmates.

How did you prepare for the exchange program?

The very first thing that I did was to decide on which school and program to apply for. I narrowed down my choices to universities in the UK since I wanted to go to a European country and take theatre classes. I omitted the US since I had already gone there in my sophomore year as an intern. Then, I tried to meet the qualifications as best as I could. Hanyang University has basically two standards when it comes to applying for the program: GPA and English. The higher your GPA, the more likely it is that you will be able to go to the school of your choice. English is also essential, as most schools require some type of English score in order to study in the country. It is also very important to check the website of the Office of International Affairs because that is where most of the information is regarding exchange programs.

Would you recommend it to other students?

The exchange program is a package full of amazing experiences. I would recommend it to everyone, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allows you to travel, study, and network at the same time. The program really enables you to explore “your world,” try something new, go to different places, meet different people, and just enjoy your time abroad. I will never forget the six months I spent abroad in the UK where I learned so much from great people. I would say that the only downside of studying abroad is probably the cost because you need money to travel and participate in social events. Nevertheless, it was totally worth it for me, and I would choose to go again if I had the chance to do so.

HyunSik Jo’s Heartwarming Mailbox

HyunSik Jo’s Heartwarming Mailbox

Located in Gamgodang-gil, Jongno, the Heartwarming Mailbox is a mailbox that receives anonymous letters. It was installed by HyunSik Jo (Hanyang University DIS, Senior) after he was inspired by the book Miracles of the Namiya General Store written by Keigo Higashino. Since it was installed, hundreds of letters have gone through the mailbox. The Heartwarming Mailbox is managed by the Heartwarming General Store (온기잡화점), where there are sixty other workers. Anyone with worries can send a letter to the mail box. However, the letter must remain anonymous. Because handwriting a letter is inconvenient and time-consuming HyunSik found value in slowness. He says that “people can truly put their heart into the letter because they take their time.” He hopes for the incoming and outgoing letters to be filled with warmth.

In November of 2016, Jo happened to read the book Miracles of the Namiya General Store by chance. In the book, a character from the past writes his worries in a letter and sends it to a character in the future. Then the character in the future replies to the letter. Jo claims, “People have numerous relationships, but there are many who cannot share their problems. Everyone has at least one concern that they cannot share with their friends. I thought if a person shares his problem anonymously, he could share his entire story”. It was one of Jo’s values, to live a life that helps someone, that made him to create this mailbox. “My grandmother who raised me passed away after suffering from a disease. I realized that life is finite so I pondered a lot about how I was to live life meaningfully.” He felt that a life filled with competition and greed was meaningless. He hoped for people to laugh once more throughout their lives. In that sense, he thought the mailbox would be a comfort to someone and eventually deliver happiness to people. Immediately he put his plans into action and recruited ten workers through an online community website. However, the number of letters exceeded all expectations so he recruited additional workers. There were even cases when people approached him first, after reading his story in an article, to volunteer as workers. Currently, there are more than sixty workers with their ages ranging from 20 to 50. When asked about what kind of characteristics a worker should have, he answered that nothing was required. He only needed people who yearn to deliver comfort to those in need.

The letters inside the mailbox are collected every Saturday. The workers are divided into four groups (15 workers per group) and they gather in a café near Ehwa Womens University to write their replies. They go through the letters and respond to the ones with the problems they themselves have experienced. If there are letters with difficult problems, the workers discuss the answers together and they even attach excerpts taken from books. Since Jo’s life has not been so smooth, he was able to give appropriate advice. At the beginning of his twenties, he felt a sense of loss to live a life that seemed to be already set for him. In order to gain experience, he took time off the university and travelled, volunteered, sold accessories and ice cream on the street. He says that “I once read in a book that selling something will be a good experience. I went through hardships and was even once beat up. However, after enduring that I gained the confidence that I could do anything. Therefore, when I receive letters in which the reader is confused about the direction of life, I reply saying that I have also been lost but there are numerous ways in life. So I tell them not to be impatient when things do not work according to their plans.”

Dae Hyun Park: Student Exchange Program (Spain)

Dae Hyun Park: Student Exchange Program (Spain)

Name: Dae Hyun Park
Exchange University: Spain/Universitat Politècnica de València
Program Duration: 1 semester (6 months)

What made you want to study as an exchange student?
I spent last semester as an exchange student because I wanted to learn the language and culture of Spain. Specifically, I wanted to experience Spain’s relaxed attitude. My friend from my Judo team recommended Valencia, Spain due to its cheap prices, natural surroundings and culture. Moreover, I wanted to travel all across Europe during my stay.

What were the pros and cons of being an exchange student?
To start with the pros, first, being an exchange student gives less academic pressure due to its pass/fail grade system. This allowed me to have more time engaging with European people. I was able to experience their cultures and simply enjoy life. It felt like a vacation.

Second, I was able to learn the country’s language. As I interacted with local students, my Spanish improved significantly.

Third, I had more time and opportunities to travel. Traveling taught me many lessons in life while it introduced me to many great friends from all across the globe.

Fourth, my cooking skills have improved. I lived in a shared flat so I had to cook for myself. Being able to cook good food is a necessity.

For the con side, however, one can become lonely as everything is foreign and new.  This sometimes discourages exchange students from being proactive.

Moreover, many universities do not offer a high number of major courses in English which can hinder one’s academic progress especially in regards to completing credit requirements. Hence, I was not able to take many courses in Spain.

Would you recommend it to other students? Why?
Yes, I would recommend the exchange student program. Many students, including myself, enjoy the best time of their lives. They make many good friends and memories. Additionally, it is beneficial in regards to education. Languages, cultures and vital life lessons are learned throughout the stay. I hope everyone gets the chance to spend at least one semester as an exchange student.

Boram Lee: Participating in the United Nations’ CSW 61

Boram Lee: Participating in the United Nations’ CSW 61

Name: Joyce Boram Lee
Internship / volunteer institution: UN Commission on the Status of Women 61
Duration: March 10-March 20

Q: Why and how did you apply for this activity?

I’m a volunteer at an NGO called the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The YWCA of Korea participates in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) each year, and they were recruiting young volunteers to represent them at the event. The first process of application was with documents of personal information and self-introduction. Then there was a phone interview conducted in English where they asked me about my interests in women’s rights and the United Nations.

Q: How did you prepare for this activity?

I did a lot of reading. Although I had always been interested in gender equality, there was still a lot of reading to catch up on, mainly previous UN documents or publications on gender equality by the Korean government. It was important for me to be able to understand and share as much information as possible when I got to the event, and the best way to ensure that was through reading and studying.

Q: What specific activities did you participate in?

1. CSW 61 Youth Forum:
For the first two days, I participated in the CSW Youth Forum. This is a forum where young people under 30 years old from all over the world come together to discuss gender equality. Numerous panelists from a variety of backgrounds share their experiences and engage in discussions with other participants. It was also here where we heard a keynote speech from the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed. After the plenaries, smaller groups of people gathered for thematic sessions. Each group discussed different themes, such as Refugees and Migration or Violence against women and girls. I went into the “Young women and men challenging inequality in times of climate change” session. With the respective conclusions of each session, the drafting committee wrote a Youth Declaration to submit to the general assembly at the CSW.

2. NGO and Government Parallel and Side Events:
During the CSW, NGOs and governments open parallel and side events to advocate their cause or summarize past achievements in gender equality. Being a member of the YWCA, I attended events hosted by the YWCA of Japan and Canada. I also attended meetings hosted by other NGOs and governments such as those of Finland and Norway. These events covered a variety of topics, from “including men and boys in the gender equality movement” to “young women entrepreneurs”. I went to 3 or 4 of these meetings each day.

3. Egumeni Safe Space and Navi campaign:
The World YWCA opened a safe space close by the UN headquarters. (A safe space is a physical space, often a large room, where people can intervene in any kind of discussion with guaranteed confidentiality: it is a “judgement-free” zone.) The safe space provides people the opportunity to talk about gender-related issues more intimately with one another. There were also special guests, such as Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Canadian minister of international development, and Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary General of the UN. They answered the many questions of the YWCA youth and led discussions about their experiences and professions.

At the safe space, the representatives of the YWCA of Korea, including myself, did a presentation to promote our campaign, “Ignorance is Violence”. We explained the tragic situation of the sex slaves during the Japanese colonial era and further asked for the international community’s support in combating violence against women and girls in armed conflict. We had the privilege to present our cause in front of delegations from all over the world, including ministers of Finland and Australia.

4. Meeting the Senior Advisor on Policy, Kang Kyung-wha:
The YWCA of Korea had the opportunity to meet Kang Kyung-wha, the senior advisor on policy at the UN. We asked her a number of questions regarding her past experience in Korean and international politics, her personal opinion on what makes a good leader, and how a person of her position deals with the clashes between reality and the ideal of “making the world into a better place”.

Q: What did you learn from this experience?

As a child and teenager I used to dream about working in the United Nations. But after entering university, the more I researched, I came to see it just as a formal gathering of member states–all talk and no action. The lack of binding law seemed like a major flaw, and the value of all of the “fancy” rhetoric seemed questionable.

Yet after CSW I realize the significance of providing people a platform. The United Nations and CSW in specific, provides people with a platform in which they can share experiences and information. These aspects to some may still come across as a waste of resources or even as unnecessary. But after having first-hand experience, I can say that at least in my eyes, people truly and sincerely utilize the provided platform to advocate their causes. The passion and drive these people have is amazing, and so I came to place great value in the UN in that it gives these people a place to speak. It is one of the few official places where people can be idealistic for once. Not to mention the fact that people from literally all over the world convening to empower women in and of itself sends a powerful message to organizations and governments everywhere.

 

Jae Ah Shin: Volunteering with SK SUNNY

Jae Ah Shin: Volunteering with SK SUNNY

Name: Jae Ah Shin
Volunteer institution: SK SUNNY
Duration: February 2017 – February 2018

Q: Why and how did you apply for this volunteer activity?
I applied for SK SUNNY Social Enterprise Supporting Team with an expectation of gaining a valuable experience. My future goal is to become a Social Enterprise CEO. I hope to establish a social enterprise that can tackle a number of social issues simultaneously. The moment I applied to SK SUNNY program, I was confident that this volunteer activity would help me overcome my weakness while strengthening my abilities and would function as a stepping stone that leads me a step closer to my dream.

Q: What activities did you participate in?
I participated in the SK SUNNY Social Enterprise Supporting Team Leader Group, which was a one-year program. Our main goal was to support social enterprises’ by utilizing diverse marketing strategies and further expanding university students’ talents. This semester, I was assigned to support a social venture, “Ease and More”. “Ease and More” is a social venture that encourages sanitary, healthy and content female lifestyles. Such actions are carried out by monthly funding the underprivileged teenage girls with sanitary napkins. As a part of the leader group member, I have the responsibility to select and manage supporters—team members. Managing supporters involves planning a workshop, managing a community website, and keeping schedules.

Q: What did you learn from this experience?
Through the SK SUNNY Program, I learned how to carry out the marketing strategies that I learned in the DIS courses. Moreover, as the SK SUNNY Leader Group consists of university students from all around Korea, I made a lot of friends in other regions as well. Interacting with friends in other regions of the country certainly enabled me to gain a broader perspective. SK SUNNY is truly a window of opportunity.

Q: How did you prepare for the volunteer activity?
There are two programs within SK SUNNY: the Social Enterprise (SE) Supporting Team and the Volunteering Team. As I applied for SE Supporting Team, I prepared myself by joining Hanyang Social Enterprise Network and researching about social enterprises. Understanding the concept of the social enterprise and having a passion to change the world in to a better place are vital.