2019 ASEACCU General Assembly Held in Sogang University
- Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities,
Academic and Cultural Exchanges through 5-day General Assembly from Aug 19
- This year’s theme: ‘Reconciliation and Situation in the East Asian Region’
The 27th Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASEACCU) General Assembly was held for 5 days at Sogang University from August 19 to 23, 2019. The meeting took place under the theme of ‘Reconciliation and Situation in the East Asian Region’ at Sogang University.
# Opening the 5-day journey, the ASEACCU General Assembly
At 9 in the morning on August 20, even in the early morning, Room 102 of Jeong Hasang Hall was filled with excitement and enthusiasm of students from East Asian nations. Jong Gou Park, president of the university, delivered the welcoming address to 67 students from 33 universities in East Asia. As an ice-breaker, the students had time to introduce themselves, greet Sogang University’s program assisting students, discuss their motivations, and share opinions on the agenda.
The opening ceremony was held at K-Turtle Convention Hall near the university at 6:30 pm and attended by faculties and students. The university president Jong Gou Park, Herminio Dagohoy, chairman of the ASEACCU, and Isabel Capeloa Gil, chair of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, participated in the event to celebrate the meaningful occasion.
President Park said, “Welcome to Sogang University. The educational philosophy of Catholicism is to seek for sharing the common good. In this regard, I hope you find the opportunity to delve into significant values including generosity, understanding, and acceptance.”
The Chairman of the ASEACCU, Herminio Dagohoy, wished for the success of the general assembly and said, “I am pleased and impressed that I am here with you at this 27th ASEACCU General Assembly. I hope the event serves as an opportunity to discuss the identity of Catholics and exchange opinions among the Catholic Federation Universities in Southeast and East Asian nations.”
Isabel Capeloa Gil, chair of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, emphasized the significance of the meeting and encouraged the participants by saying, “I hope this event provides an opportunity filled with challenges and possibilities among members of the federation.”
The opening ceremony closed with celebratory performance delivered by the team Sogang Pung Yeon, which staged the Korean traditional music Pungmul. During the opening ceremony, participants enjoyed the dinner while getting to know each other. They also seemed highly expectant of the exchanges and cooperation they would achieve during the assembly.
The General Assembly was held for 5 days from September 19 to 23, along with diverse additional academic activities including lectures, discussions, site tours, and presentations. Here is an interview with a Sogang University student who participated in the event. Cho Eun-na (graduate student of Religious Studies, 41’) shares her academic, cultural, and networking experiences in the ASEACCU General Assembly.
# Lesson from the ASEACCU and its values
- Hello, could you briefly introduce yourself?
Hello, I am Cho Eun-na from Sogang Graduate School, majoring in Religious Studies. This is my last term at this university.
- Nice to meet you, Eun-na! What made you take part in the ASEACCU?
I happened to read an advertisement recruiting participants for the ASEACCU and I applied. I am highly interested in the actual lives of the youth and adolescents. In particular, my major covers a diverse agenda related to adolescents and youth, which drove me to join the meeting.
- You said you have been highly interested in the adolescent and youth?
Yes, I have several experiences taking part in conferences attended by Catholic youth. I attended the 6th Asia Youth Day (Daejeon, Korea) in 2014 and the World Youth Day (Kraków, Poland) in 2016. Also, at the 4th Korean Youth Day (Seoul, Korea) in 2018, I was in charge of organizing the opening ceremony and closing mass. In terms of my major, I’m always interested in adolescent- and youth-related issues, and have been engaged in diverse activities as a volunteer in and out of school. So, this opportunity was something that I have long-desired.
- What program stood out the most to you?
The most impressive programs were the group discussions on the second and fourth days and the time for preparing presentations. My group was composed of 10 people including students from Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia, along with volunteers from my school. I have been participating in volunteer working programs at some educational centers for children from multicultural families. As those experiences and activities were closely linked to the theme of the conference, I organized them in my notes before coming here.
During the discussion, I shared my opinions comparing those experiences and the current situation of Asia that I researched for my preparation. While listening to the other groupmates talking about their nations and opinions, I was able to get to know the situation of Asia more closely. I also had the chance for an in-depth discussion on the agenda with the youth from other countries.
- What kind of specific agenda did you discuss in your group?
Our group members had in-depth discussions on gender equality and refugees in the run-up to the presentation. Especially for the issue of refugees, we talked about situations that could arise after submitting refugee applications, damage caused by the collapse of multicultural families, and their domino-effect consequences. In terms of practical solutions, we urgently recognized that there should be one single cooperative organization in place, not separate organizations by each nation.
- Could you share your opinion on the present and future of Korea that you felt during the ASEACCU?
During the presentation, I delivered a speech on behalf of my group. The slogan I shouted at the podium was “One Asia. One Future.” Asia’s history of enduring turmoil in the 20th century was a struggle towards independence and democratization. The struggles have still remained. The voices shouting ‘a better society’ or ‘freedom for humanity’ have turned to violence and resistance. Students of each nation in the ASEACCU were standing at the center of that Asia. The ASEACCU this year was held at a time when the situation in Asia is rapidly changing and growing more severe. In Hong Kong, protests are spring up one after the other every day, and the diplomacy rights of Taiwan are always an issue. The ASEACCU next year is going to be held in Cambodia, which feels very remote from us even though it is geographically close. We also gathered in recognition of a boundary of one Asia even including Australia, which we have not thought of as an Asian nation.
When we visited the DMZ in Paju, we commonly felt that it was “really close.” The land of North Korea that we looked towards at the Taepung observatory was truly close. When I heard that the Japanese participants were seriously nervous when they landed on Korea, I asked myself what path we have to move towards for true ‘reconciliation.’ Also, during the keynote lecture on the assassination of Itō Hirobumi by An Jung-geun, I realized that it was not an issue only between Korea and Japan but an intertwined issue of all Asian countries.
- That is a very good comment; I think you felt a lot while participating in the ASEACCU program. Tell me about what you felt during the conference.
The friends I met at the ASEACCU were same as me; they were thinking about their own paths with their own dreams. We will definitely meet people in certain places; we will happen to meet someone crossing the sea or welcome unexpected guests. I think Korea and student participants in this ASEACCU share one important thing that they should not forget: the unchanging truth that “there are people” wherever we are. I believe this might be just one single message that penetrates through the ‘Reintegration of Asia’ towards peace and democratization. That is the slogan I shouted: “One Asia. One Future.”
I believe the youth of Sogang are at the center of Korea, and the center of Korea can extend its hands of love towards Asia. In turn, the hands extended to the world symbolize the courage that can bring about change in the world. Therefore, I would like to move towards the youth of Asia based on my experiences in the ASEACCU.