Harvard and Ewha respectively hosted the 2021-2022 Harvard College in Asia Program (HCAP) Conference that was held from Jan. 16 to 23 and from Feb. 19 to 20.
HCAP is a program aiming to foster mutual interest and understanding between students from Harvard and prestigious universities across Asia. Since 2007, Ewha has been the first and only partner school in South Korea to join HCAP.
Each year in January, partner schools from Asia including Ewha gather in Boston to attend a weeklong conference at Harvard, while Harvard students attend conferences at partner schools in Asia during late March.
Although this year’s Boston Conference was originally arranged to be an on-campus event, Harvard decided to conduct the event virtually in consideration of the highly transmissible omicron variant. With this abrupt change, 10 participants from Ewha had to film videos of what they had prepared to perform at the Boston Conference.
Lee Hyun-jin, a senior in the Division of International Studies and the president of 2021-2022 Ewha HCAP, explained the events and efforts that the HCAP Conference encompassed.
For the Boston Conference that was held from Jan. 16 to 23, Ewha prepared four videos in total: a delegation introduction, a talentshow, an academic presentation, and a taekwondo demonstration. Lee stressed that the participants from Ewha practiced for months, especially for the talent show, in which they performed a traditional Korean sogo dance and a K-Pop dance.
From Feb. 19 to 20, Ewha and the University of Tokyo co-hosted a conference under the theme “Interdisciplinary Innovation: New Ways to Approach a New World.”
Lee was responsible for the overall preparation of the conference and hosted the Seoul & Tokyo Conference with the Ewha HCAP vice president and the Tokyo HCAP president. For the Seoul & Tokyo Conference, delegates from Ewha prepared six programs in total: a tour of Seoul, a metaverse event, a Squid Game event, a K-Pop dance lesson, and two academic programs.
When asked if Lee could pick her favorite memory from the HCAP Conference, Lee chose the last day of the Boston Conference.
“After a week of the Boston Conference, HCAP Board prepared a farewell video for participants during the closing ceremony,” Lee said. “All of us were touched, and I was able to feel how close we had become even though the conference was held online.”
Nam Yoo-joung, a senior in the Division of English Language & Literature, was responsible for cultural program management and public relations of HCAP’s Seoul & Tokyo Conference. Nam also designed the 2021-2022 HCAP mascot character named Mo.
While skimming through previous records of HCAP, Nam realized that there had never been a character representing HCAP.
“I thought it would be nice to have a cute character that could repeatedly appear on the HCAP Instagram page as well as on our designed goods, so this is how Mo came to be,” Nam said.
Considering all of the preparations that had been made including the character design, travel booking, and visa arrangements, Nam was devastated after the Boston Conference was moved online. Her hope to perform the K-Pop dance during the talent show in the Harvard’s auditorium was dashed.
Still, Nam and the other delegates from Ewha dedicated themselves to putting on a great show just the same. In order to film a seven-minute video for the online talent show, Nam and the members of Ewha HCAP danced on the Ewha campus for five hours when the temperature was as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius. Nam reminisced that the directing and editing process of the video was also tiresome. However, after receiving praise about their talent show video, she felt all the hard work had been worth it.
When asked her overall thoughts on the HCAP Conference, Nam frankly expressed that HCAP was not easy as it was an all-student-led conference. Every member of Ewha HCAP had to deal with more work than expected and frequently adjusted their plans due to abrupt changes brought about by COVID-19. Despite the stress, pressure, and effort, however, Nam was delighted to become close friends with the ten members of Ewha HCAP.
“I think HCAP needs students who see a single topic from diverse perspectives and are willing to step into an unknown field,” Nam said as she concluded the interview. “Whether it be dancing, drawing, debating, or creating websites, HCAP requires you to do it all. But if you are a person of passion and eagerness, you will fit in perfectly with HCAP.”