The 2018 Seoul World Culture Fair was held for three days from May 25 to 27, aiming to introduce the diverse culture of the world to teenagers and help them understand the different lifestyles of people living in the global society. The fair commemorated May 21, World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which was designated by United Nations (UN) in order to emphasize the importance of cultural diversity with factors including nation, race, and religion.
International Youth Fellowship (IYF), which organized the fair, is an international non-governmental organization that sends Korean university students to its 87 offices abroad for volunteer work and international exchange. More than 200 students who had volunteered for a year at IYF’s overseas branches returned to Korea and gathered together to hold the fair. They prepared exhibitions and performances about the culture of the countries they had worked in and opened booths to offer cultural experience for the visitors.
“We met every Friday, Saturday and Sunday to prepare for this festival,” said Hwang Se-jung, a sophomore at Incheon University. “We had to make specific plans for the event from the start and had to find sponsorship from companies. We planned how to set up the booths and what programs to offer for the visitors. It demanded so much time and effort that I spent most of my time after school organizing the event. However, it was a meaningful experience for me to be involved in such preparation from start to finish.”
The booths were classified into six continents, exhibiting various folkcrafts from 80 countries around the world. Also, there were sections where people could try the local food and the traditional clothing of different regions.
“It was great to indirectly experience the culture of foreign countries that I am not familiar with,” shared Yang Hyo-sun, a student of Hyesung Girls High School. “Since I can’t visit diverse countries right now to learn about their culture, it was great that I could learn such things in Korea.”
Along with the booths, performances by students attracted the visitors’ attention. Each day of the event, different cultural performances were planned for the audience. On the first day, shows representing the culture of the United States, India, and the Philippines were performed, and Gracias choir was invited for the evening concert. There was also a show performing taekwondo, displaying the beauty of the sport. On the last day, the festival ended with Youth Concert.
For people who could not make it to visit the fair, IYF posted the stories of students who have experienced volunteer activities in foreign countries on its blog to share with more people.
“I decided to go to Ethiopia for a year to find true happiness in my life,” Hwang said. “Also, my brother, who had been to Zambia through the program of IYF, encouraged me to participate in the program. Getting away from university life in Korea and doing volunteer work for people in need was great since I have learned how to be thankful for my life and everything I have been given and allowed to do.”