Rotarian and Councillor Ian Brown with the two Rotary youth ambassadors.Last week Rotary hosted the International Festival of Understanding dinner. Among the guests were Cowra Mayor Bill West and Cowra’s 2015 Festival of International Understanding chairperson, Councillor Ruth Fagan.
Councillor Ruth Fagan thanked Rotary for their part in the festival and mentioned the trip to the South Korean embassy in Canberra by the Cowra 2015 Festival of International Understanding youth ambassadors. She then introduced the two Rotary youth ambassadors, Riley Barron and Anna McNamara, who in turn spoke about their experiences as a youth ambassador.
Part of the role of the youth ambassadors was to choose a charity to conduct fund raising for. Riley and Anna chose their charity as Interplast. Interplast is a not-for-profit organisation, actively supported by Rotary, working to improve the quality of life for people with disability who are disabled as a result of congenital or acquired medical conditions such as cleft lip and palate or burn scar contractures. This is done by sending fully qualified Australian and New Zealand volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health professionals to the Asia Pacific region to provide free surgical treatment for patients who would otherwise not be able to afford access to such services.
Both spoke about how much satisfaction they got from participating in the fund raising. They both spoke about enjoying the trip to visit the embassy in Canberra. Here they were given a presentation on Korea and then enjoyed a four-course Korean lunch. This was followed by being invited by the ambassador to his private karaoke room where they were impressed with the ambassador’s karaoke skills. At the end of their visit they had learnt a lot about Korea.
Cowra Mayor Bill West also addressed the meeting congratulating Rotary on their support. He stated that the festival youth ambassadors were a credit to the community and that the festival had identified the things we have in common with South Korea.
The guest speaker for the night was Jay Moore. Jay is of South Korean origin but grew up in Sydney. Her talk as divided into four sections. The first section was a brief introduction to the language of South Korea. The second section was about the food of South Korea. Jay showed some pictures of food and asked those present to nominate which were Korean food. This proved to be a trick question as all were Korean food. Jay mentioned how seaweed soup is a common dish and commonly consumed by women after giving birth. Jay mentioned about eating raw chilli’s dipped in chilli sauce. This sounded a rather challenging dish.
Guest speaker Jay Moore addressing those at the dinner.
The third section was about the work culture of Korea. A very strong work ethic exists. In the 60’s a considerable amount of poverty existed but it is very different today because of the strong work ethic. This work ethic starts in primary school. Jay talked about Hagwon. Hagwon is the Korean-language word for a for-profit private institute, academy or cram school prevalent in South Korea. The Hagwon got so out of control as far as the amount of hours that students attended that to reduce the country’s addiction to these private, after-hours tutoring academies, the authorities begun enforcing a curfew – even paying citizens’ bounties to turn in violators. The fourth and last section of Jay’s talk focussed around the relationship between South Korea and Australia. To start both countries are good trading partners. Another part of the relationship is the work of Australian Presbyterian missionaries in Korea, starting with the first missionary from Australia who went to Korea in 1889.
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