Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Reflection of the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School

On August 11-28, 2008 the May 18 Memorial Foundation organized the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School (the 2008 GAHRFS). The venue was in Chosun University.
There were 23 participants from 12 countries in Asia, they were: Afghanistan (1), Bangladesh (2), Cambodia (2), Indonesia (2), India (2), Malaysia (1), Nepal (2), Pakistan (1), Philippines (4), Sri Lanka (2), Taiwan (2), and Thailand (2).
Participants were divided into 3 levels: Senior members (4), Middle managers (9), and Junior staff (10). For Senior members they had presentation for Middle managers and Junior staff. The programs for the senior members also finished on August 28, 2008, while both the Junior staff and Middle managers stayed from August 11-23, 2008.
Joining the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School I gained and learned a lot of things.
I have met, known, learned, and shared knowledge, experiences, and culture with participants. We spent a lot of time together. From the lectures in class, I learn a lot about Korean democratization, and also democracy, human rights, and peace situation in Asia. Aside from the materials of lecturers, I also learned about how to give a good presentation in the class and other technical works.
Korean history focused on May 18 Democratic Uprising was a good example for us as human rights activists and defenders of human rights. It showed how the people in Gwangju in 1980 struggled to fight for democracy. All people included man and woman, students and workers, and from all groups gathered in Geunamno street. All united and helped one another. Until now, the spirit of 1980 is memorialized and keep growing on the hearts of Gwangju people.
I had some good points from some lecturers, there were:
1. To reach the target or wish, it needs patient and resoluteness. Professor Georgy Katsiaficas in his class he said that the longer time you struggle for democracy, the better product it will have.
2. As activists and human rights defenders, we don’t have to always arraign of things from other people, but it is start from our self first. How we can build our self as a good person and always with the awareness of our circles.
3. Culture and candle light demonstration are good way for expression of our felings. Demonstrations should not always be about street and violence. Peaceful rallies will involve all class or groups like students, children, etc.
4. Korean women movement were very strong, especially nowadays. Their struggle is a good example for every woman in the world.
From participants, I learned a lot about the situation of democracy, human rights, and peace situation in Asia. Especially when they had presentation about their countries situation. They were really eager for learn and share. Participants also had good sense of camaraderie, just a few days of meeting but solidarity and cooperation among them were already strong.
I also had good times with other participants during sport time, field trip to some historical places, home stay with Korean family, and picnic in the last day. During sport time, we had games. It was really fun and enjoyable. I had chance to join home stay for one day, we went to some traditional places and also joined the candle lights demonstration at Civil Park. In the last day, we had picnic to Boseong tea plantation and the beach. We stayed one night and had cultural night. In the cultural night, participants presented their cultural dance, songs, games, etc.
Some of the presentations were boring, because the lecturer just talked and sometimes their voice and articulation were not clear at the back of the class. From lecturers, I learned how to make a good environment in the class when we have presentation. From the beginning we already start by question-answer with participants. It will make discussion continuing. It more better also if we mergered theory with example in real life, and also put some pictures or videos. In class, mostly the discussions time were just a few. It would be more better to have a lot of time for sharing and discussion.
During the 2008 GAHRFS I made good relation and cooperation with my team (Culture and Solidarity Team). We learn and completemented each other. Every events since the 2008 Gwangju International Peace Forum, the 2008 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, and other events, we always gained something even in happy and bad times.
As an International Intern at the May 18 Memorial Foundation, I helped some works related to the program. As a host, I learn a lot how we can organize and coordinate the program. How we must prepare anything earlier. The important is communication between host and to participants. As a host we also must respect and understand different cultures of participants.
The 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights was a good event for activists and human rights defenders in Asia. In this event they meet, learn, and share their knowledge, experiences, and culture. Their communications were not finish after the event, but with internet world they still can meet, learn, and share with each other. With this event, they made a new network for democracy, human rights, and peace in Asia and also in the world.

By. Gregoria Barbarica Kristina Ritasari
International Intern
August 29, 2008


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