From March 16 to 23, this year’s Harvard College in Asia Program (HCAP) Seoul Conference was held. The title was “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Education,” which was specified from this year’s original HCAP theme, “Global Leadership in the 21st Century: Empowering Education.”
HCAP is an academic and cultural conference hosted by Harvard College with nine major universities in Asia including Ewha Womans University here in Korea. HCAP is the biggest Asia exchange program at Harvard, and Ewha has been the one and only partner in Korea since 2007.
Last January, 10 Ewha delegates went and stayed at Harvard College for eight days to participate in the HCAP Boston Conference. Along with the Harvard delegates, 150 students from the partnered Asian schools took part in the conference. There were five lectures related to education and leadership in which students then afterwards discussed and shared their ideas on some solutions they thought of. The students then went on a Harvard Business School and MIT tour, participated in the HCAP Olympics, competed in a Talent Show, and spent a Prom night dancing to different countries’ music.
“It was an amazing experience. I learned so much from my peers, the lectures, and the places we went to,” said Chun Yeon-joo, an Ewha delegate majoring in Business Administration.
After the Boston Ewha delegates returned from visiting Harvard in January, the Harvard delegates came to Seoul to participate in the Seoul Conference, where Seoul Ewha delegates came on board. With 10 Harvard delegates and 19 Ewha delegates in total, the HCAP members spent a week together listening to lectures and sharing cultural experiences.
“HCAP was the experience and friendship of years packed into one short week,” said Dalen Ferreira, a Harvard delegate majoring in music. “I am incredibly grateful for having been given this opportunity to experience Korea in so many new ways.”
As a program organized solely by students, the Ewha delegates prepared all the lectures and schedules from scratch. For the first lecture, Jang Yoon-jae, the head of Ewha chaplains, led a tour of Ewha campus whilst comparing it to biblical figures and explaining the grounds of Ewha, such as the ECC resembling the Crossing of the Red Sea. He also gave a speech under the title “Remembering as Empowering” about the need for the two Koreas, North and South, to unify, and to recall the issues about “sex slaves” during Japan’s colonization of Korea.
The second lecture was given by Leif Eric Easley, an Associate Professor of International Politics at Ewha. Professor Easley spoke about “Leadership, Education and Regional Cooperation in Asia,” which was the only open lecture where anyone could come and join the HCAP delegates.
The final lecture was given by Kang Soo-jin, an alumnus of Ewha working as a User Experience (UX) designer at Samsung Electronics. Kang then gave the last lecture, called “Demystifying User Experience Design,” explaining the field of UX on behalf of her career.
“Exploring Seoul with Ewha HCAP was one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had,” said Mohammad Abdulghani, a senior at Harvard majoring in biology.
“I had a wonderful time and made friendships that will last a lifetime.”
For cultural activities, the students visited the War Memorial of Korea to learn about the Korean War and Institute of Unification Education, which was followed by a trip to 38th Parallel, also known as Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). To suit the conference’s theme “fourth industrial revolution and education,” the delegates experienced a VR café and went to the Ewha Institute for Brain Science. Also, a field trip to Pyeongchang, Seoul Sky at Lotte World Tower, and visits to Lotte World in Korean high school uniforms and Gyeongbok Palace in hanbok were done.
“Building relationships with many delegates from Harvard helped me broaden my global perspective, and it will be unforgettable that we also shared our ideas about this year’s topic, the “Fourth Industrial Revolution and Education” with the Harvard students and inspired each other” said Kim Han-ul, a senior majoring in psychology.
On the last day at the conference, all delegates shared their reflections on HCAP, their eyes welling up with tears.
“The interesting thing about being an immigrant is that you run the risk of not being able to call any of the places you’ve lived in as ‘your home,’” said Andrew Yun, a freshman at Harvard who is a Canadian-Korean. “In Canada, people assume I’m a Korean, while Korea, ironically, is becoming an increasingly unfamiliar country for me. as I left the country when I was very young and had lost all meaningful social connections. And now, as a student in the US, the people and the surroundings are all unfamiliar again.”
“So, when I first joined HCAP, I was simply looking for an opportunity to renew my connection with my native country. And being at Seoul this past week, I had found just that, and much, much more. I am incredibly grateful to have met 19 kind and compassionate students from Korea and to have experienced South Korea in so many new ways.”