I have visited India and Singapore with my family. But, I never have been to a country with people whom I am not so close, strangers in other word until last August. I applied for Youth Exchange Program under Ministry of Youths and Sports (KBS). I am not a stranger to youth programs since my father was a former Youth NGO leader. But, I should admit that I never heard about this program before. I had to undergo psychology test (not as fancy as it named) and selection camp first before got selected to this program.
I was surprised and quite shocked too when KBS officer called (on Sunday!) to inform me that I have been selected for Malaysia-Korea Youth Exchange Program. It was very short notice due to some reasons, and the officers had to work on the weekend. Finally I get my passport (renewed on first day before flight) and attend Pre-departure program in Menara KBS. On this post I will to tell you about the wonderful people whom I travel with and met in Korea.
From the 14 delegates, I have only have met and spoke to 3 of them before in selection camp. Vijay who share the dormitory with me, Azira who was my team member and Helen whom I met outside the hall on the first day, we talk about education on that day. Before we board the flight I try to get engage with them. As we were bringing identity as Malaysian Delegates, I had to ensure a stronger bond with these “strangers”! And very surprisingly there were no trouble at all to engage with them and till the last day of program we stay as one team. As always I had little trouble in remembering their names, honestly it took a few days to remember their name.
Korea is a country where the people gives very much important to their mother tongue, unlike in Malaysia where a significant number of people who thinks speaking in English making them elite exist. So, not all in Korea are very good in English. You may have a little trouble to communicate with them. But, that’s not a big problem since guides in English are available in Museums. You also can download Korean language app on your phone and you can even use Google Translate.
The first official photo in Incheon, S. Korea (Shi Ming & Kak Nadia looking somewhere else).
On our stay in Korea we were accompanied by program coordinator, Ms. Yerang Kim (Elena) and translator Ms. Haneul Park (Sky). They both are so beautiful and kind. We ask them a lot of question and they never failed to answer us. Our translator Sky once didn’t even eat anything because she was so busy translating our question to Korean Youth Work Agency director. It was very good and fun to play, travel, eat and talk with them. I ask a lot of questions to them about South Korea and North Korea relationship. Despite the fact that was the first time we meet and we are foreigners it was very easy to get along with them. I miss them actually, good people are rare to find. Hope they will visit Malaysia one day.
Sky and Elena!
Another important person is Kissannim, our Bus driver in Korea. He is a very kind person. We never spoke since he don’t speak English but still he get coffee in a shop for us in Gangwon and even bring one coffee for Abang Ayie who was sitting on bus. He is very friendly person. Dominic named him as the best driver in the world!
Shabiha with Kissannim! (I couldn’t find the group picture I took with him)
Throughout the program I stay with Alan in same room. I have joined many programs before but I never stay with a non-student (He is working). We talk about many things while in Korea and went to homestay program in Incheon together. In Incheon we stayed in foster family’s 100 years old house. But, unfortunately it was very short period and we didn’t have much time with our Omma and Appa. Apparently Korean people work harder than I thought. My foster father only came back early morning after work. He is engineer. They have two kids but I just met them briefly, they were busy too. I got little jealous because other delegates stay with kids and youngsters. They could have learnt more about youth and students life. But nevermind everyone have their own privileges and knowledge they gain from this homestay program. After all, they never stay in traditional house like us. Our Omma cooked delicious Korean foods for us (I couldn’t finish). On the second and the last day of homestay program our Appa brought us for a walk around the house (Will write more later).
My Korean “Family” in Incheon!
After the homestay program we join the most anticipated program, cultural exchange class with Korean youths. It was a good ground for us to discuss many things from education to youth. Those people are so friendly and kind. There were quite surprised and confused over diversity of Malaysian delegates. We had to explain to them about ethnic diversity in Malaysia to them. We spend almost half day with them. I met Yong gi, Seon Young, Ji-Hyun and Hyun-Jin at the program. Since, only Yong gi and Seon Young was in my team my most conversation was with them. I spoke to Ji-Hyun and Hyun-Jin in Kuala Lumpur when they came here for Korea-Malaysia exchange program. We had a lot of informal discussions about education and lifestyle in Korea. I also meet some Korean High School students (Girls High School) in Gangneung. Though the gap between ages not much different, I felt they are too young to talk about many things. We just had discussion about their High School life (which is very stressful). The president of the High School club, Eun Limes was educated in Canada and spoke in very good English. She shares many things about the difference between Korean and Canadian education system. Erin one of our group member (See the picture below, the girl giving present to overexcited Hilmi) is the only one quite active than others.
With Husyin and Dominic’s Korean Sister!
Korean High School Girls! (That’s Hilmi in green, Shi Ming and Azira)
Hyun-Jin, Me, Yong Gi and Ji-Hyun
The Malaysian delegates led by Mr. Mazlan KBS officer from Labuan and assisted by Mr. Ikhwan. At first when I saw Mr. Mazlan I thought he will be a strict person but he was a lot cooler than me same goes to Mr. Ikhwan. We had a lot of fun together with Shabiha the selfie queen, Hilmi the over excited guy, Vijay young for his age guy, wise and smart person (Good adviser, supporter), Azira (no nick name for her, she is a quiet girl), Dominic the engineer (He call me with various name, I quite like him), Kak Nadia the ICT girl, Huysin and Abang Ayie the politician duo (both are in Tourism field), Shi Ming the brave, smart traveller girl (She inspires me a lot), Hellen, the gorgeous (I dare say she is the most mature among us), Alan my roommate and the most important person Izzaty the pretty physicist plus teacher plus ……… (I don’t want to mention, she will get angry later. To those who knows please fill in the blanks). This is the most perfect team I have ever seen.
I hope my friendship with these people will continue. It’s impossible to talk with them all the time but this friendship will never end. I will write more about my Korea tour in my next post. Thanks for reading.