A couple of university students are signaling, cueing people to go down the slide at a waterslide festival. These students are voluntarily working as staff as well as enjoying the festive atmosphere as Mecca members.
Mecca is a non-profit organization founded by students in 2014, where the members mainly direct and participate in festivals. Although they usually help out in festivals, they also participate in other type of activities where they can be of help.
The goal of this organization is to help students gain new experience in planning and executing projects, and step toward a bigger world.
The activities of Mecca encompass many areas. They range from planning festivals and parties, advertising them through social network, to working as staff in concerts. The members have also worked as supporters in a commercial advertisement, and worked as staffs in 2014 Kyung Hyang Applied Music Concours.
Along with its activities, Mecca has remarkable points that distinguishes it from other organizations. Unlike other organizations where students are designated specific tasks in the activities they are participating, Mecca members have opportunities to plan and organize events by themselves. For example, they hosted a fundraising event named Mecca Launching Party in 2014 where participants of the party could donate to the poor. It is noted that the party was solely planned by Mecca members and some university student volunteers.
Moreover, Mecca is not just for job-related activities that students seek for job applications in the future. Instead, it emphasizes experience and tries to give students opportunities to enjoy many cultural activities.
Behind these contributions of Mecca members to many events stands the leader of the organization, Lee Sang-jun, who first started the idea of establishing Mecca. He is also known as the youngest festival director in Korea because he became the main director in the Slide the City Festival, a waterslide festival.
“I wanted to make an organization where students can run festivals with managerial skills they have learned,” Lee said.
Lee mentions that it was the festival at Tiger Beach of Incheon, home to many large festivals and concerts, which became a motivation to establish Mecca.
“Many students worked as staff in that festival, and I felt that it would be great if these students can continue to work for events and enjoy spending time together,” Lee said.
After Mecca was established, the students became supporters of Tiger Beach and are advertising events held there up to this day.
The most recent festival Mecca supported was Slide the City Festival, which opened in Yeouido as a part of Seoul Metropolitan Government’s 2015 Hangang Mongtang Project on July 17 to 19. As staffs in this festival, Mecca members inflated a 330-meter long, ten-meter high waterslide every morning. They also sold water floats and instructed people when to go down the slide. This festival is special in that it was the first time that a big waterslide was installed in the middle of a city in Korea.
The effects of Mecca also approached an event in Sinchon when the members participated as staffs in Water Gun Festival. Lee and the members also performed beatbox on stage and heated up the atmosphere.
Although it seems that members all enjoy festivals together, there are several hard moments Mecca face behind the enjoyment.
“It was very disappointing when it rained on the first day of the 2015 Water Gun Festival,” Lee said. “We prepared a lot for the festival but not many people enjoyed it due to the bad weather. Also, when there was no stage for performance of the 4th World Bellydance Convention last year, we had to start from scratch, installing everything on our own.”
Throughout these hardships, however, Mecca members learned how to deal with challenging situations and have moved on to the stage where they could finally enjoy their works.
As an unforgettable episode, Lee remembers the moment in 2014 Summer Bamsa Party in Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel, a music party with numerous Korean singers such as DJ DOC and Koyote.
“It was the most memorable event throughout the events Mecca had worked for,” Lee recalled. “Six members of Mecca had to prepare chop steak and canape for 250 people right on the day of the event.”
At first, it seemed like an impossible job for the six members of Mecca to prepare such a large amount of food within such a short time. Although it was a hard job, they overcame the challenge and managed to lead the party to success.
Now, Mecca is aiming to achieve its current goal of holding its own festival, “Mecca Festival.”
“I wanted to hold our own festival, not just participate in one,” Lee added. “I’m planning to hold it within the next two years.”