A Global Youth Ambassador from India tells how her trip helped her to make new friends and better appreciate a country that is becoming a vital partner.
I recently attended the Youth Exchange Programme in South Korea as part of the Indian Youth Delegation. Our journey covered Seoul, Siheung, Suwon, Busan and Ulsan.
India is becoming a crucial economic partner for South Korea and so this Youth Exchange Programme had been organised by both governments with the objective of providing young people with a better understanding of the socio-political and economical relations and the existing cooperation between India and South Korea.
We arrived in the capital Seoul. The city, including the surrounding area, is home to roughly half of the country’s population. We stayed there for the first three days of the programme.
We visited the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, where we could explore modern and contemporary Korean history from the late 19th century. Then we went to the Indian embassy, where we met the deputy Chief of Mission.
At the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family we explored the policies put in place in order to ensure all citizens are treated equally irrespective of their gender, race, caste etc.
We also heard about the measures being taken to promote a gender-equal society, as well as the creation of a family-friendly social environment, the promotion of youth’s development and the protection of human rights.
In Seoul we had the opportunity to provide Korean youth with an introduction to Indian culture while we listened to them introducing theirs. This gathering helped us to interact with students and get to know South Korea through their eyes.
After our three days in Seoul, we moved to Siheung where we benefited from the "homestay programme". This allowed me to stay with a host family who helped me to understand the culture much better and be more appreciative towards it.
I know that such cultural exchange opportunities do not come easily and I am thankful for my host family for their kind hospitality and teaching throughout.
In a way, this programme has given me direct access and an insight into the real Korean lifestyle that I have longed to experience. We shared love, values and some precious moments of our life with our host family.
And they made us feel at home. I truly found my second home in my host family.
After saying goodbye to our host family with tears in our eyes, we moved back to Seoul for our next programme. This was with university students where we presented an introduction to the Sustainable Development Goal 8, which is decent work and economic growth.
After this wonderful visit, we moved to Busan, a city full of life and South Korea’s second most populous city. We visited the UN Peace Memorial Hall established to pay tribute to the UN Forces who sacrificed themselves to keep Korea’s freedom and peace.
The centre organises various activities like educational/cultural events to promote peacekeeping. We also held a discussion with Korean students on seeking a sustainable plan for global peace.
Our last city was Ulsan, where we visited the Youth Entrepreneurship Centre - a centre for creative economy and innovation.
We also visited the Ulsan Foreign Language High School where we did the last presentation of our visit on cultural and economic cooperation between South Korea and India.
Our journey came to an end in Seoul. On the last day we visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace. This was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty and it is located in northern Seoul.
After studying the cultural and economic cooperation between two countries, making new friends and exploring new places. it was time to go back home to India.
This exchange programme provided me with a better understanding of South Korean culture and history, as well as the current resources. Personally, it also provided me with a opportunity to gain self-confidence and to obtain global leadership skills.