Youths Of Asia Gather For Korea-ASEAN Exchange
Youths Of Asia Gather For Korea-ASEAN Exchange
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2003.03.05 00:00
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How often do you get the chance to make friends from 11 different countries at once? To have the world at your doorstep is a rare experience - an opportunity that came by 160 lucky youths of Korea and Southeast Asia. Ten days seemed too short for the participants as time flew by amid the energetic atmosphere of friendship and cultural exchange.

Sponsored by ASEAN and the Korean Ministry of Trade and Foreign Affairs, the Korea-ASEAN Youth Exchange 2003 was held from February 10 to 19 by the National Council of Youth Organizations in Korea. 120 participants from Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia joined 40 participants from Korea, in a ten-day program in Seoul and Yongpyong.

The youth exchange program was packed with workshops, outdoor activities, teamwork projects, and fun. The opening ceremony was particularly symbolic as participants dressed in their country"s traditional clothes. Black laced and gold patterned costumes of Thailand, pastel-colored silk hoods of Brunei, gracefully puffed out hanbok skirts of Korea and much more mingled together.

"All of the clothes are so beautiful and unique in their own way," said Maytinee Wasumadee of Thailand, adding that she would love to try on the other costumes. At the closing ceremony, she fulfilled her wish and blossomed in her roommate"s hanbok, braiding her hair down and looking like a traditional Korean girl.

One of the most interesting aspects of the program was due to the choice of season. Cold weather being unfamiliar to those from more tropical areas, Southeast Asians were given the chance to learn skiing in the winter wonderland of Yongpyong. This was certainly a challenge, as many of the participants had never even seen snow before. This trivial fact hardly dampened the fun, though.

"This is a new experience for me. The winter scenery in Korea is so beautiful and skiing is a fascinating sport," said Sao Sokny of Cambodia. When asked how many times he had fallen down during the day, he smiled sheepishly and said, "I don"t know. Too many times."

Another highlight of the event was the food festival. Each country"s participants had the chance to share the special dishes of their respective homelands. Vietnam"s Nem (spring roll) and Malaysia"s Air Bandung (syrup, sugar, and milk) were a big hit, but more enjoyable than tasting the dishes, was the process of making the food together. Two Koreans were assigned to each ASEAN country and were able to learn Cambodian traditional folk songs while cutting fish or teaching Korean songs like "Nabiya (Butterfly)" to participants of Thailand.

Lectures and discussions were also held about the potential of Asia and other various global issues of today. Participants were so eager to share their opinions that it was customary for discussion groups to go over the allocated time and finish up exhausted but happy. Teamwork activities such as domino stacking and relay races were also tackled by the youths as they learned the importance of cooperation.

For most participants, however, no program matched the time spent just talking with newly made friends. Seo Min-hye (Wonkwang Univ., 2) expresses the common thought that all participants shared in saying, "The friendships we made here are so much more valuable as they were born out of our differences. I miss my friends abroad but console myself with the thought that parting leaves the way open for another encounter."

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