Friday, December 26, 2008

Ria and Din Bid 518 Adieu

Full of new experience and gratitude, after 10 months of internship, Ria and Din, bid farewell to The May 18 Memorial Foundation to join their NGO in their country Indonesia and Cambodia respectively. The two interns joined the Culture and Solidarity Team from March-December 2008 for a 10-month International Internship Programme on Human Rights.

The International Internship Programme strives to contribute to the development of democracy and human rights throughout Asia by recruiting four interns from all over the world, who have been working for human rights and peace organizations in their own countries, and by giving them a chance to learn about and experience the history and process of the development of human rights and democracy in South Korea. Specifically the purpose and aim of the program are the following: to improve International Solidarity and to promote Gwangju as Asia's Hub for Human Rights and Democracy Movement.

Gregoria Barbarica Kristina Ritasari or Ria is grateful for the opportunity the foundation provided her. She is program coordinator of Solidaritas Nusa Bangsa Foundation (SNB or Homeland Solidarity) a Non-government organization with a vision of realizing a democratic Indonesian society, respecting the value of brotherhood and equality in pluralism. Ria works closely with victims family of racial discrimination.

She enjoyed her time and work with the Team and other staff whom she is indebted for learning a lot of things. Ria thanks The May 18 Memorial Foundation for having contributed a lot in changing my views and perspective in life.

Din appreciates everything the foundation had provided him as an intern, especially what the good learning and work environment. He hopes that one day he could return back all the kind favors he received to all Koreans particularly to Gwangju citizens.

"I think our working is very good, positive and effective to target group, and I do believe every thing we have done and have been doing are the best activities in Gwangju City on international solidarity and domestic projects" Din believed.

In 2007 Thet Din was a chosen by Khmer Youth Association as a Youth Partners in Development Program (YPD 2007). He joined an exchange program between Cambodia and Sweden that was supported by Swedish Centre for International Youth Exchange, and YPD for a six-month program. In Sweden he was assigned at International Jönköping University as counselor for an International Development Projects Resource Service for International Project.

Activities of the International Internship Programme 2008

The International Internship Program introduced the interns to Korean history in general and in particular to the movements and struggle for democracy, including the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. Both theoretical learning and practical experiences such as lectures, seminars, discussions, interviews and fieldtrips to the sites of democratization movements in Korea were made.

The interns were assigned to the Culture and Solidarity Team. They were considered as regular staff attending to day-to-day office business. The interns helped in the preparatory work and implementation of different events; made presentations to schools; and performed other tasks the Team will assign them to undertake.

Each intern made a research on a topic of their choice, conducted the relevant research, and delivered a presentation at the end of their internship program. The interns were also supported by the foundation to learn Korean. Both interns enrolled at the Gwangju International Center finishing both basic and intermediate Korean Language Classes.

Highlights of Main Activities

March 2008
Arrival and Orientation

Preparation for the May 18 Events

Conduct of the May 18 Events

Post May 18 Events

Preparation for the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School

Conduct of the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School
Participation to the 2008 ARENA-Sungkonghoe-MAINS Summer School

Post Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School

Completion of Assigned Project

Conduct of Research & NGO Visits

Submission of Final Internship Report, Research Work and assigned projects

The above activities were the main events that interns were involved. But throughout the 10-month they were also assigned book reports and performed other tasks for the Culture and Solidarity Team which includes translating brochure of the International Solidarity Programme in their language, blogging issues and campaigns of partners , networking and promotion of the program and activities of the team and attending youth conferences held in Korea.

The interns recommends that The May 18 Memorial Foundation continue the conduct of its International Internship Program. It has been very helpful to have staffs that are capable of speaking other languages aside from Korean and English in improving networking and communications of the foundation. The internship continues to play an important role in the international solidarity work of the foundation so it should be maintained.

The foundation also encouraged the interns participation to international conferences and other workshops held in Gwangju such as the 2nd UNESCO Asian Youth Forum and the 2008 Asian Youth Culture Camp. The interns for this year were given this privilege which is a good opportunity for them to link and network with other youth organizations and learn from those conferences.

As part of interns integration to a new culture and environment they were provided an opportunity to learn Korean language at the Gwangju International Center (GIC). The GIC and other support centers or groups such as church or host family were also introduced to them. Volunteering to groups is deemed useful as well so they can fully maximize their weekends and other free time. Prof. young-im Kim who runs the KONA Book Center is a very-wiling-host family for Din while Ria made close friends at the Catholic church. Interns were able to learn more about Gwangju and Korean culture in this way.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Universal Human Rights Day In Gwangju

December 10 is celebrated as Human Rights Day and this year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. In most country, this event is celebrated that stipulates human’s fundamental freedoms. But it continues to be disregarded and neglected by governments who lack the political will to implement them. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK)–Gwangju Branch Office organized the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The program was held last December 10, 2008 at the Small Hall of the Gwangju Culture and Art Center.

There were two programmes:

1. 4 PM – 7 PM
The programmes include Christmas exhibition of human rights where pictures and other creative materials adorned Christmas trees. Different organizations distributed books, showed human rights films, etc. There were 22 organizations invited, among them The May 18 Memorial Foundation, Gwangju International Center (GIC), etc. The Foundation put materials (books, CD, pencils, etc) as present for those who would write about human rights and democracy. Other organizations also have souvenirs for their guests.

2. 7 PM – 9 PM
Commemorative event and Cultural performances.

Each delegate from each organization put a Christmas ball to the four Christmas trees on the stage. It is a symbol their involvement in the struggle on human rights, democracy, and peace. The opening performance was presented by Korean theatre group ‘Sin Myeong’. They performed a theatre and dance number where theme was about pluralism on human rights.

Part of the commemorative event presented was the recitation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Cultural performances presented were of various kind of entertainments, there were Drama ‘A Special Bravery’, Congratulatory Poem, Accordion Performance, Creative Masked Dance Performance ‘So Mae’, Various Drum Performances, Accappella performances by children and their mentors , and Youth Musical ‘The Things We want’.

There were also supplement performances which are Fusion Percussion ‘Speeding’ and congratulatory performance.

Among the cultural performances, there was a National costume show from different Asian countries like Korea, China, Singapore, Japan, etc. It depicted the pluralism in the world even in Gwangju. As a hub Asian culture, Gwangju includes people from other countries (Philippines, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, United States of America, etc).

There was a drama presented by school students, the theme was economic problem especially in South Korea. Students have to study hard and find part time job to get money. It describes the situation of life at the present.

In the middle of the program, they showed video messages of Dr. Lenin (India) and Mr.Muneer A. Malik (Pakistan) on human rights day. Dr Lenin is a former winner of the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and Mr.Muneer A.Malik is the 2008 winner. There were also messages from different citizens of Gwangju.

On a message on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the Laureates of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award, they call for dignity and justice for all. They ask for stronger solidarity among civil society groups and leaders both local and international to protect the freedom and rights of all people especially the marginalized sectors in the society.

The program was finished at around 10 PM. Everyone went back home with their new spirit of democracy. Let’s us put high respect on pluralism and democracy, and abolished all kinds of discriminations!

Happy a human rights day.

By. Gregoria Barbarica K.R.
December 16, 2008