On September 17th, a lecture was given in regards to the 2011 Millennium Development Goal Progress (MDG), which was held in the KOICA building, celebrating its tenth anniversary. It was specifically highlighted that common people should be more aware of spectrums entailed by MDG. For this cause or reason, NGO will be provided a great opportunity to advertise their campaigns and activities throughout the field, in which to soon become a discussion key.


Among the presentation, I was awestruck by the Millennium Village Project, held by the Merry Year Foundation, which took place in Gumulira, Malawi. Although the project has brought a delicate attraction, steady changes are still being altered. It was a ‘glocal’ project that implements the ideas of MDGs into every corner of the world, specialized to just the place.

All the panelists and students in the celebratory lecture


Goal1: Eradication of extreme hunger and poverty

When farmers were provided with fertilizers, the harvest rate was 5 tons per one hectare But when fertilizers are not provided, the production was reduced to 2 tons per hectare. Aiding fertilizers and seeds are necessary in order to support fundamental needs.


Goal2: Achieve universal primary education

Participation in school education is valued to its utmost position when schools budgets provide food for students; moreover, providing funds in order to operate a sound education environment for students who come from unstable socio-economic backgrounds. This goal stresses that consistency and validated operations from the Village Sensitization Education Program is necessary, to say the very least.


Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

The annual school fee in Gumulira is about 60 USD. However there are only a few who can easily afford this amount of money. The installment of a solid and well organized scholarship system must be activated in order to encourage and motivated the educational needs for female children.


Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

The Gumulira Millennium Village is planning on reducing the mortality rate of children to as much as 40 deaths of 1000 lives. It needs a specific and validated approach—such as vaccination, proper environmental sanitation, and most importantly, improvements in the healthcare system, particularly aimed towards maternal health. This goal necessitates the most various strategic approaches to achieve certain degrees of accomplishment.


Goal 5: Improve maternal health

The starting point of achieving this goal is to reduce death rate during birth. When systemized with healthy hospitals, there would be a better possibility to reduce death rates to almost by zero.


Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases

The most fundamental step to take is to check who is infected with AID’s. Strong education on ways to protect individuals from being infected to venereal diseases and giving them access to protective tools are the only ways to combat unwanted diseases.


Goal 7: Ensure sustainable development

Keeping installed water pumps clean, and planting fertilizing trees (Leguminous trees) are pretty much all about ensuring a sustainable environment— improving high quality lives of people.

Merry Year Foundation, contributing in distributing welfare around the world through glocal partnership inspired me a lot because they put their thoughts into actions, and they were good at it.


The project as a whole itself is a living example of global partnership. When supervised and supported by the government, South Korea’s status as a nation will likely improve. Such projects are ‘global’ projects that bring about practical changes in everyday lives. I am glad to know that there are programs out there which aims for the betterment of the human well-being.

  1. 미지김민경 2011.11.07 10:33 신고

    MDGs Report is something that I have been very interested in. I love the way that I can briefly look into each goals!

It was one sunny afternoon. I became sure of myself that summer was definitely on its way. However, such heat was nothing to some people..the Iraqis. Especially for women, they were dressed in dark colored dresses called chador which made them look very conservative and shy. How did I meet them?


In KOICA(Korea International Cooperation Agency / 한국국제협력단), they select numerous high school students who are interested in cultural exchanges and have good grasp of English as “Junior Coordinators”. The selection takes place in spring, and all you need to do to be accepted is to write a self-introductory résumé. The role of the Junior Coordinator is to support people from overseas who have come to learn government related administration, during the weekends, when they go out to travel through Korean reality. We could accompany them, answer their questions, and lead the way during the trip.

                                                         They loved to take pictures, especially at the N Tower.

I myself joined the program this year, and went on a field trip with a group of Iraqi people who has come to learn about Public Fiscal Management and Reform in KOICA. They were all public officials back in Iraq, which made me feel uncomfortable at the beginning, having thought of the general tendency of public officials; authoritative and smart. However, they were all excited to get to know about Korea, and Korean students. I thought it was my chance to give them a fresh and pleasant first impression of Korea, and I assisted them as best as I could. I kept on reminding myself that they will judge Korean people through my conducts. I was a civil diplomat!


Starting from 9 in the morning, we visited Subway Control Office to learn how systemized the subway is in Korea. We were introduced the history of Seoul Metro, and saw Real-time Monitoring system of line number two and three.

                                                                         At the Subway Control Office

When we actually went underground to take the subway, people were awed by it. They had nothing like this in Iraq, and this transportation was very new to them. Just when we were trying to get off, people had no idea how fast they had to move for people to get in and out within the certain time the door stayed open. Many of them thought the train will wait until they all got off, but eventually before less than half got off, the door was closed. They had to come back, and I think they were a little intimidated of the speed they require when living social life in Korea. 

                                                                  At the Seoul Metro
                                                 They were awed by the size and the complexity of the system.

Next, the famous Seoul N tower was waiting for them. The day was hot and the road was not easy, so women in chador had difficulty making brisk paces. Nevertheless, they tried to capture the moment in Seoul by taking pictures. For lunch, we had pizza. They all had vegetarian pizza, since they do not eat pork. Some of them were brave enough to try kimchi, and they liked it.


Nanta show in Myongdong was the day’s highlight. It contained rhythmic performances, which at the same time contained Korean traditional music, dances combined with modern feel. It was hilarious, and since it did not contain many lines, it was universally comprehensible.


Towards the end of the tour, two other coordinators, Iraqi visitors and I went to see the Royal Palace and The National Folk Museum of Korea. They became aware that Koreans take their shoes off once inside their own house. They could not understand at first, because they said they had inside slippers and carpets. But I told them that you could wear slippers, but many don’t because it is uncomfortable and the floor is kept clean enough to walk on bare feet.

                                                                                 At the Royal Palace

After the tour was over, I thought I had a good use of my foreign language skills, and was proud of myself. This activity also grants long hours of volunteering. I too, learned to accept distant culture and merge them when two different nationalities come across each other. What is better, this is not a one-time experience, because once you are a Junior Coordinator, you can participate in future activities whenever the spot is open for many years to come. Permanent and fruitful dedication is what makes a volunteer job worthy, and this program was definitely worth it.


QnAs all in one box!

1.     What skills do you require to volunteer as the Junior Coordinator?

   Respective communication skills in English.


2.     What is the role of Junior Coordinators?

   They follow around the group of people from overseas during their excursion around Seoul. You can accompany them, satisfy their needs due to cultural differences, help translation, lead the way, etc. However, there will be a head of the trip from KOICA to guide all the way, so it would only be like substitute guides.


3.     What are some things to be careful about?

   It is important to respect the others’ religion or culture. You should refrain from speaking in an offensive manner from their point of view. Also, you are not to keep in touch with the group ever again after the trip. It is to both protect the personal life of the group members and the junior coordinators.


4.     When does the selection occur?

   It selects new coordinators every spring. This year’s selected students are in the fifth year. However you can still participate even after your year is up.


5.     How many times can you volunteer in a year?

   Maximum three times, to give equal chances to everyone. Since the volunteer takes throughout the day, it grants about 8 hours of volunteer hours.


2011 January 29th, in KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency), there was an event for VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea) member students. The name of the event was called ‘VANK World Changer Education’. Such forum is held for the first time ever, but will continue to educate VANK students about contemporary global issues frequently from now on. 330 middle and high school students’ passionate minds to bring a better change in the world heated up the cold room. Students realized MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) were the challenges for young generations to solve.


MDGs are eight most imminent conundrums of 21st century, of which should be solved upto certain level by 2015. “Some problems are a little bit more influential to our lives than others. However if you were to become a world changer, you should care them all.” , VANK leader Park Gi-tae said.

VANK leader Park Gi-tae introducing a Moroccan intern in VANK


Some people question the effectiveness of United Nations. ICUNIA (Information Center for UN and International Activities) representative Kyung-Soo Kim  told the students “OCHA(UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) makes sure that relief goods are handed out to every single corner of rural areas. This is one of the practical actions that nothing else but UN can accomplish.” And also, “There are so few Koreans working in international organizations. Your chances are big. Try before you give up. But first, be an expert in your expertise.”

Frankly, many students looked partially relieved to know their English did not have to be perfect to work in UN. With their passionate minds, respectable English proficiency and expertise on a particular section, they were already a part of UN.

ICUNIA (Information Center for UN and International Activities) representative Kyung-Soo Kim being introduced at the beginning of his lecture


Lastly, KOICA Global Village Project Assistant Jung Sunghoon gave a speech about ODA(Official Development Assistant). ODAs are various forms of aids given by developed nations or its governments to international organizations or developing nations purely for their benefit. The aid is never limited to financial aid, but also includes technological, humanitarian aids. South Korea is the only country to no longer receive the aid but give the aid. But there are problems to unconditional ODAs. Recipient countries may no longer be able to stand up for themselves without the aid, making them heavily dependent on the aid. Their governments are easily corrupted, and modernization / democratization are delayed. ODAs may help recipient countries temporarily, but if they are not used properly, it does more harm than good.


KOICA Global Village Project Assistant Jung Sunghoon giving a lecture about MDGs and ODA.

“I came to open my sight to inconvenient truth, problems the universe is facing. Furthermore, students all together came up with practical solutions to the problems, of what we can contribute to make a better world! As I was listening to several lectures, I could visualize my dream, and find out what I would like to devote my career upon. I felt dignity to my home country. It was such a precious time to meet fellow students who are interested in similar issues. I will treasure this event for a long time.” said Kim Hyun Ah, 17, a participant of VANK World Changer Education.


VANK World Changer Education pointed out the problems we are facing. Students came to realize that not even solutions are going to completely solve the problem. But students with dreams of making a better world is ‘changing’ our world one step closer to Utopia, by acknowledging what the problem is, and why they should be solved.

/MIZY Youth Reporters, Cho Rok Lee

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