On August 6th, IVECA hosted the finale of the 2023 Summer Camp in partnership with the Incheon Metropolitan City Office of Education East Asia Global Education Institute (IEGI). Student teams from India, Nepal, South Korea, and the United States presented their chosen soft power after learning about cultural diplomacy and collaborating throughout summer camp. Over a span of just one week, student teams from different corners of the world explored how soft power can contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to make the world a better place for all. IVECA had the honor to have His Excellency Dr. Hesham Elnakib, Ambassador Extraordinary of Egypt & Adjunct Professor of American University, D.C., serve as the instructor for the Summer Camp. Through his leadership, lectures, and feedback, and their mentor's guidance, each team selected one cultural soft power their countries possess and branded it to promote their nation and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous world.
In his opening remarks during the Global Virtual Roundtable, Dr. Elnakib emphasized the impact of cultural diplomacy when achieved in connection with global citizenship; “Cultural diplomacy through global citizenship helps overcome stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination while it fosters a more inclusive and peaceful world.” He also encouraged students, whom he expressed to be very proud of, to enjoy their success and continue exercising global citizenship, to accomplish themselves through giving and to contribute to the international community and humanity.
Students, mentors, and attendees also had the opportunity to hear from the guest speakers. Dr. Abraham Joseph, Vice-President at DGGW & Former 1st Officer at UN-DESA, in his address: "Youth Role in Sustainable Development," expressed: "Cultural diplomacy is extremely important in our interconnected world." Ms. Aishu Narasimhadevara, Ph.D. Candidate and Youth Representative to the UN-DGC, in her address "Youth as Soft Power," expressed that throughout her experience working with youth, she has realized that their resilience, curiosity, optimism, and compassion are their greater tools to contributing to the advancement of society. She stressed: "One can take action regardless of their age…No matter how young you may be, it is never a barrier to take a stance in the world."
Each team showcased their soft power creatively and engagingly. South Korea's Team A chose "Media: K-Channel" as their soft power. They believe their soft power will benefit society as it is for all ages and the international community. In using media as their soft power, they will benefit SDG 4, Quality Education, as the media can be used as a means of education without space and time constraints, and SDG 17, Partnership for the Goals, as through the use of the media people can engage in cultural exchanges with other countries actively, thus strengthening global cooperation.
Nepal's team chose "Cultural Hospitality Tourism: WA-W NEWA" as their soft power. By showcasing their rich and lively culture through social media, photography, billboards, air magazines, and celebrity visits, they plan to promote tourism in Nepal. They believe their soft power aligns with SDG 1, No Poverty, SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals. "Since we will be working with the people from the nearby community, we will focus on collaborating with marginalized groups of people so they can strengthen their livelihood in an effective way… We will work together for a better future together."
The United States team selected is "American Entertainment: Unity Vision Productions." Students explained why the film industry was chosen as their soft power: "There's a large variety of genres, plots, and stories to tell, constantly keeping viewers engaged and coming back for more." The students stressed that having their own film company would be different because they want to bring attention to all 17 SDGs and make it enjoyable. They want to make their company an inclusive platform for all voices to be heard, where positive messages can be spread, and where they can raise awareness of global issues that people may not be familiar with.
South Korea's Team B chose "K-Tradition: Yoon-seul" as their soft power. They aim to promote beautiful and unknown traditions such as food, clothing, and shelter. One clever way to promote their K-traditions is by creating an idol stage in which traditional costumes and houses would be present. They shared that their soft power will have an impact on SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being, by providing new options for healthy recipes for the global community, SDG 9, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, by promoting their unique architectural features; and SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals, as they believe their soft power has a strong impact on developing emotional connections for all common goals.
India's chosen soft power is "Yodic and Ayurvedic Therapies: Svasthya-verse." Students expressed that their vegan and vegetarian food options have many benefits: "Indian vegan food provides the most variety of options and is also affordable for all people… It has a variety of vitamins and nutrients." Students explained that in Ayurvedic therapy, unique oils are used, and they can only be found in India. These oils help cure many disabilities, such as joint and muscle pain, depression, weak eyesight, etc. Students stressed that Ayurvedic therapy can also be done at home and that it is affordable. Students believe that their soft power is inclusive as no age barrier exists. Their soft power addresses SDG 2, Zero Hunger, by providing free food to underprivileged people and hospitals, SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being, by promoting a healthy lifestyle, SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, by generating employment opportunities and SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals, as students said, "it is needed to make our brand successful with the support of different countries."
Student teams received praise from guest speakers and their distinguished instructor. His Excellency Dr. Elnakib expressed that "From the beginning, from day one, I noticed the ability, the dynamics; they are willing to be global citizens, and they understand how important it is to share human values…We have seen that they have grasped what public diplomacy is all about." Dr. Elnakib proudly said that the students, the "young ambassadors of the future," successfully learned how to use their soft power, brand it, and promote it to accomplish the SDGs. Ms. Narasimhadevara expressed her admiration for how students’ creatively addressed and tackled the SDGs and how the diversity of solutions proposed shows there are multiple perspectives and possible ways to address a single issue. Dr. Joseph shared: "Their presentations were brilliant, and at this age, to nurture them for developing soft power, it is really amazing… I have been touched by many of the presentations."
To conclude the successful Global Virtual Roundtable, students prepared a cultural performance to celebrate their partnership. From traditional dances in their native costumes to instrumental performances, students participated in a rich global exchange. They continued the celebrations in their Happy Hour session, where students had the opportunity to interact in a more casual environment and where they said goodbye to their partner schools. Dr. Elnakib commented on the successful Global Virtual Roundtable: "This night is going to be memorable. We listened to music from different corners of the world, so make your life music, make your life art…reach out for your soft power… You are ambassadors of the world." Farewell to the young ambassadors as they continue their journey as global citizens of the world.