Due to the ongoing pandemic, the annual spring and winter conferences of Harvard College in Asia Program (HCAP) were held online this year. The HCAP 2021 Harvard Conference was conducted on Zoom from Jan. 17 to 23, and the subsequent Ewha-HCAP Conference took place on March 19 and 20. Moreover, in the case of the latter, Team Ewha collaborated with Team Tokyo, the HCAP team of the University of Tokyo, and hosted the HCAP 2021 Seoul X Tokyo Spring Conference together.
Ewha-HCAP was formed in 2007 when Ewha became the first and only university in Korea to join HCAP. As a traditional program in Ewha that recruits participants annually, its purpose is to establish an international network and train future Asian professional leaders through academic and cultural exchanges between Harvard and Asian partner universities.
Ewha-HCAP holds two conferences each year, one taking place at Harvard University in January and the other at Ewha in March. Traditionally, students from Asian universities are invited to the first conference held at Harvard University in Boston, while Harvard University students visit Ewha to participate in the second conference a few months later. The online venue and collaboration with the University of Tokyo at this year’s conferences marked the first time in Ewha history that changes were made in the conference method of the Ewha-HCAP.
Ewha Voice asked the manager of HCAP from the Office of International Affairs about the reason behind these changes.
“The background of Ewha’s collaboration with Tokyo was a result of the change in Harvard’s academic schedule due to the coronavirus,” the manager said. “There was a setback in hosting the Asian conference the usual way during spring break, so student groups of each school discussed the matter and decided to reduce the conference to three days. Originally, Asian universities planned to take turns and conduct the program for a day each. However, with the change in schedule, Asian universities teamed up into small groups and hosted the conference together as in the case of Ewha and Tokyo for two days.”
Six guest speakers were invited to the conference, and each delivered a lecture. The guest speakers included the following: American film critic Darcy Paquet, who is recognized as the English subtitle translator of the film “Parasite”; Park Eun-hee, the fellowship coordinator at the NGO Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR); Professor Lee Joo-hee from the Department of Sociology; and Associate Professor Shin Tae-seob from the Department of Education.
Re-cap of Professor Lee Joo-hee’s “Women in Society: Current Status and Challenges”
In her lecture, Professor Lee explained that the pandemic and the Korean model of development have one common element that deteriorated women’s status in society.
“This is the act of ‘care’ functioning as shadow labor,” Professor Lee said. “The burden of unpaid care grew substantially during the pandemic and was disproportionately carried out by women. Therefore, the Wollstonecraft dilemma, which denotes the contradictions inherent in women’s strategies to achieve equality in a patriarchal society, deepened. Transcending the Wollstonecraft dilemma requires long-term political engagement. In this lecture, I would like to propose a few strategies to create gender egalitarian societies.”
Professor Lee pointed out that the best possible way to overcome the Wollstonecraft dilemma is to institute a citizen-worker-carer model or to establish a dual-earner/dual-carer society. This new citizenship model endorses equal distribution of care work in families in addition to increased provision of public care services. Such genderlessness, according to Professor Lee, may require radical equality- promotion policies in the area of parental leave, working hours, flexible work schedules, and even universal basic income.
Re-cap of Professor Shin Tae-seob’s “Social and Emotional Learning and Future of Education”
Professor Shin began his lecture by commenting that in the education sector, being tech savvy is the new normal for teachers and students across the globe during the pandemic.
“Our own experience tells us that meaningful learning can take place even without face-to- face interaction between students and teachers,” Professor Shin said. “This whole new experience leads us to rethink about the future of education. Once the global pandemic subsides, can we go back to the old ways of teaching and learning? What will schools look like after COVID-19? One idea that is worth sharing is social and emotional learning.”
Social and emotional learning (SEL) refers to the process through which people acquire and effectively apply knowledge, attitudes, and skills. These qualities are necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
During the lecture, Professor Shin elaborated on the conceptual framework of SEL, arguing that it will become more important in the future of education. Finally, he presented empirical evidence that shows how SEL is linked to various educational outcomes. By introducing a recent study he was involved in, he indicated how students’ social and emotional competencies were affected during the global pandemic.
Looking into Team Ewha’s effort for a successful event
The response document full of detailed descriptions of the March HCAP conference was given to Ewha Voice immediately three hours after the event. Cho Fiona, Hong Da-eun, Shin Ji-soo, who are all sophomores of the Division of International Studies were the interviewees.
Team Ewha prepared a session upon the lives of North Korean defectors
One of the cultural sessions prepared by the Ewha students dealt with the lives of North Korean defectors and countering negative social perceptions against them. The team addressed the issue by filming an interview between Park Eun-hee, also referred to as Ms. Park, who is an active influencer and a North Korean defector. Hye-won Jun of Brain and Cognitive Science gave out questions, and Ms. Park shared stories of her life inside and outside North Korea.
The workflow: How Ewha students prepared for the conference
“This year’s conference was different from previous conferences. Not just the conference itself, but almost all of the planning involved between our team members were different,” Cho said.
The altered conference format involved two or three HCAP Asia universities forming a team to lead a three day conference, and naturally the students took integral roles mitigating the schedules.
Apart from the scheduling, diverse responsibilities were distributed based on roles of which each student had several. Shin for instance, had three obligations as the vice president, a member of the cultural exchange team and the academics team. She not only supported scheduling and discussions, but also participated in the organization of both cultural and academic sessions.
“As a teammate of the cultural exchange team, I was in charge of the K-POP Relay Dance video,” Shin said. “As for the academics team, I helped brainstorm ideas and organize our business session.”
Hong was part of the cultural exchange team and publicity team.
“I designed an event poster and our Ewha-HCAP team hoodies, which we shipped to the Harvard delegates in Boston,” Hong said. “As part of the cultural exchange program, I worked with two other members to coordinate the HCAP Seoul x Parasite session, where Darcy Paquet shared his insight through his real-time talk, Resilience and Reform in Relation to the Translation of Parasite: What Subtitle Translation Taught Me About Life.”
Cho was a member of both the cultural team and the publicity team.
“My main role was managing the team’s Instagram as a member of the publicity team,” Cho said. “I created posters, short clips, and infographics for our Instagram feed. I also got involved in planning the opening and closing ceremonies. I helped plan a game of charades for our closing ceremony.”
Deeper into the events of Seoul HCAP
Before the conference, Team Ewha had advertised their K-POP Dance Relay event. Dance tutorials were given out to delegates of different countries, and Team Ewha received short videos in which the students followed through the instructions. The videos were stitched together to show during the opening ceremony.
Hong additionally mentioned the HCAP Seoul x Parasite Giveaway event. It was planned to increase the sense of togetherness during the online conference.
“Although we were not physically together, the team looked for ways to build connectedness among the delegates,” Hong said. “For the Parasite session with Darcy Paquet, we held a HCAP Seoul x Parasite Giveaway. Students shared Instagram stories of themselves watching Parasite, and we reimbursed all rentals of the film,”
Ewha Voice interviewed the students of the University of Tokyo who participated in the HCAP 2021 right after the end of the conference.
Three freshmen students attended the interview; Kawano Miki of Environmental Conservation, Takano Hiroumi of Urban Planning, and Okamoto Rinna of Laws and Politics.
Tokyo students demonstrated what it means to reconstruct a city and the people in it after a natural disaster
Upon the same theme of resilience and reform, Tokyo students made academic presentations on how to gain resilience both physically and mentally after a natural disaster - especially an earthquake.
“Students collected audio resources by reaching out to people of the Tohoku area, and made subtitles to deliver it to the students at the conference,” Okamoto said. Takano stated that the interviewees were those who experienced a massive earthquake ten years ago.
Okamoto also mentioned they made a speech on what can restore a mind of a devastated individual after experiencing a natural disaster and how to physically reconstruct a city.
Students shared memorable cultural events they prepared
“I liked the Rakugo event a lot,” Takano said. “We invited a professional to perform during the first 30 minutes, but the rest of the performance was done by students.”
Students from all around Asia were broken into small groups via Zoom, and each group selected their best storyteller. Later, they proceeded to a competition among the storytellers to pick out who is the funniest.
Kawano shared that she personally enjoyed a speech from the president of a traditional umbrella brand which was about how they continued their business and kept the tradition over a long period of time.
HCAP Ewha & HCAP Tokyo: How students felt about the online environment
Putting aside extensively lowered costs and mitigating time differences between students of different time regions, the fact that they had the opportunity to interact with students all around Asia made this year’s event more special. The interaction between delegates of different parts of Asia during a spring conference was an unprecedented experience since in the spring Harvard delegates would visit Asian countries.
“If it were not for the online environment, it would not have been possible to interact with students all over Asia because the University of Tokyo does not have such a program currently,” Kawano said.
Hong made a similar comment stating, “I also think the perks of an online conference were the opportunity to meet everyone and the chance to get a glimpse of each delegations’ culture. Through the online conference, we had the chance to virtually ‘visit’ Tokyo, Istanbul, Taipei, Mumbai, and countries of all the eight delegations.”