Thursday, December 22, 2016

Good by the Human Right and Democratic City Gwangju: A Reflection of my 10 months Internship with the May 18 Memorial Foundation.

If you enthuse to learn and enrich your knowledge time just flying very quickly. In January 2016, I have submitted my applications International Internship at the May 18 Memorial Foundation and on end of February 2016, the Foundation acknowledge me that, I am selected as International Intern at the Foundation. In March 2016, I have joined the Foundation. When I joined the Foundation in March 2016, these were the busiest and stressful moments of the Foundation. I feel and face excitement, for the preparation of the Foundation for the Gwangju Asia Forum 2016 and Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. The Foundation’s Korean staff was rushed on all issues, international coordination with participants; visa, tickets, and accommodation become my responsibility. Thanks, to my best friend counterpart, International Intern Rini Kusnadi for her spectacular support, coordination with me, it makes stress-free and to gather, we drafted the SDMA concept and grassroots notes and great learning for me. Assisting the Gwangju Asia Forum, the Gwangju Prize, the SDMA and the Grassroots workshop was spectacular experience and learning for me.  
Over the past year, I have learned so much from the staff and volunteers at 518 and citizens of this remarkable human right city, Gwangju. After successfully completion of the Gwangju Asia Forum, and beginning of Foundations series activities became interesting and learning for me. Our team was much smaller, efficient and highly dedicated, but although sometimes the work was stressful, I was grateful for the opportunity to be fully involved in these events. The Foundation later took diverse activities in the month of May to promoting and disseminating the vision and sacrifice of the heroes of the May 18 Democratic Uprising. The first local event was The May 18 Art at Gwangju the May 18 Democratic square was amazing and remarkable. Later, Red Festa Festival is a big one event in at Gwangju City, South Korea. It is worked and lead by The Education and Research Team, the May 18 Memorial Foundation. The colors and objective of the event would like to show about the modern democracy in South Korea, especially for the May 18 Democratic Uprising that had occurred in the month of the May. This program educates youths in South Korea on Human Rights for Peace and Democratic, particularly youth in Gwangju City.

Furthermore, throughout my stay at the Foundation, I also meet and interacted with the witnessed, heroes of the May 18, professors, citizens of the Gwangju and with all this all interactions I learned that the May 18 Democratic Uprising was basically based on the will, valor and spirit was the common peoples, who belonged from the students, common citizens to disobey and challenge the military regime of General Chun Du Hwan and bring democracy in the Republic of Korea.  Though the regime only temporarily able to stop but it was a constant struggle and finally it came with reality when General Chun was brought to justice and penalized. I am feeling lucky that, through this great opportunity, I was able to learn and studied it from the local and witnessed of the May 18 Democratic Uprising and it is a lesson learned knowledge for me, which I utilized it our nation Pakistan.
I also remained very lucky that in the month of the May, I visited the Korean villages, and make the pottery, dine with them and it was amazing that the Gwangju citizens are really kind and very friendly and observed the Korean culture, which terrific experience for me. Later, I was also actively involved in the May 18 Academy program and through this program the Foundation invited twenty Asian human rights defenders from Asia and provide them a chance to learn about the May 18 Democratic Uprising, Korean culture and enhance their capacity about human rights, democratizations, and peace. In particular, it was a great opportunity to meet activists from around the world and to learn about human rights in Asia. For me, the feeling of solidarity during these two events made all the hard work worthwhile! I will never forget the memories I have of those times. 
During a stay at the Foundation, I was also got a chance to meet with the witnessed, families of the May 18 Democratic Uprising heroes and I feel their emotions, pain and though who were not the part that movement, they openly called them a coward, feel guilt not to be part of that moment. I also got a chance to meet with the mothers of May 18 Democratic Uprising, their strong will after such incident and remained united for the justice of their beloved left me shocked and shaken. Later, the resolution of this incident also astonished me, that whole, Gwangju City is now symbolic and the whole city is decorated with May 18 Democratic Uprising monuments. Being as Intern, whenever I shared with Gwangju citizens that I am working with 5.18, they really see you with great admiration and love.
It is also a great experience for me that, when Asia Culture Center has distorted the actual place fights, bullets, it stunned the Foundation, May mother, relatives and the 5.18 Foundation. They took the decision of protest and they established their tents and sitting at ACC culture Hall. During the protest the mothers of May 18, relatives, NOGs and the Foundation remained firm, they did not care about rains, weather, harsh Korean winter but they remain steady in their objectives. This again left me astonished and now more than hundred days are passed the Gwangju Citizens are protesting against the ACC at the May 18 Democratic Square.  Thus in overall it working as international intern remained as extremely learning for me, through this I got a chance to learn about the Democratic uprising and closely confronted the Korea culture too. I know the May 18 Democratization uprising always remains igneous, the May 18 Memorial Foundation is doing an amazing job and it is the main source of spreading this struggle, knowledge, inside in the Korea and all around the globe.
As I prepare to leave the Foundation, I would like to thank all the staff at the May 18 Memorial Foundation for their kind welcome and continued support throughout my time in Gwangju. Many of these colleagues have become mine good friends: I look forward to keeping in touch in the future and hearing about all the wonderful things life from them.
In particular, I would like to thank my team – You Inare, Anna Choi Sook-won Choi, Professor Louis, Sun, and Rini from Indonesia, Shaheed, Aftab from Bangladesh, and Harshi from Sri Lanka. I am especially thankful for our Executive Director Mr. Kim Yung Rae, who took care of all interns as like his family members and he various time invited us for the dinner, lunch, his village festivals and feed us as their family members. In the end, I am also thankful to the Great person Mr. Professor Yiombi Thona and his constant outstanding struggle for the human rights, refugees, and peace.  Finally with endures, encouragement, guidance and good humor of the May 18 staff! I cannot imagine my time here without them: they have been a huge part of my experience both in and outside the office. I wish them all the best in life, and of course, I hope we keep in touch!
Finally I would like to thank the following: our 518 volunteers for making me feel like “one of the team”; the staff at GIC and KONA Centre who are doing an amazing job of pulling our community together and Sungkonghoe University for inspiring me to keep learning; and everyone else who has contributed to a wonderful time in Korea. I never ever will able to forget such great, beautiful and amazing learning, moments, peace, and city of Gwangju from my heart. Thank you the May 18 Foundation giving such speculator chance and keep standing and promoting the sprite of the May 18 Democratic Uprising in all over the world.


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