High School Student narrates his story with IVECA
Written by Byung-woo Kang
Hanil High School, Republic of Korea
It was an unforgettable time for me to participate in IVECA, when it was my second year in high school. I interacted with the Colégio Militar de Curitiba School in Brazil. The first activity was a brief introduction, and I was quite surprised by my partner. Because the first sentence I faced was in Korean (Hangeul, Korean alphabet). My partner, Yasmim Tanaka, was able to speak Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, and English, so I thought she had an excellent ability even at the age of 15. As the class went on, I could feel my partner's enthusiasm because she was more passionate than anyone else, and she was very thoughtful.
I'd finished IVECA as usual, but the relationship with my partner wasn't over. I exchanged messages with my partner using Instagram. It was a great inspiration for me to see my partner go abroad, experience various cultures, and study. I began to contact her by saying that I admired her and promised to respond sincerely if there was anything she wanted to know about Korean culture. Later, she conducted a project under the theme Misconceptions and Racism Against Asians, asking about Koreans' perception of dog meat consumption in Korea. I was surprised that the content was very profound. It's part of a culture that's been going on for a long time. Based on the activities of animal rights groups and merchants, I introduced both pros and cons. By introducing the pros and cons of dog meat, I was able to experience the diversity of values created by cultural differences, and also recognized the importance of respecting another country's society and culture.
Afterwards, my partner actually visited Korea, and had various experiences such as wearing Hanbok, a traditional Korean costume, looking around Gyeongbokgung, etc. Her great interest in Korea was amazing; she was so interested in K-pop that she uploads cover songs on YouTube. I also hope that my partner’s great interest in Korea will continue to grow through various activities. Our relationship made through IVECA didn't end with a simple classroom exchange, but continued afterwards to learn more about each other's culture. This valuable experience taught me a lesson that the shift in perspectives is the basis for accepting social and cultural differences.