The third part of the InFormal project in South Korea
The third and last part of the long-term InFormal project: Integrating an informal education approach into a formal education system for empowering young people at local level took place on 10-17 August 2019 in South Korea. Right in her heart, in the eleven million capital of Seoul.
The seminar was divided into several parts. Since it was the last phase of a year and a half long process, a large part of it was the evaluation and evaluation of the ongoing project. But it also included the preparation of activities for secondary school pupils at their summer school and an international conference on the integration of non-formal education into formal education.
Despite the fact that it has been a year and a half since the project started in 2018, we met (except for three unfortunate people who had dropped out of the process for so long) all twenty-five. We started by sharing the elapsed time in our lives, both personal and professional. We were presented with a program of six days filled to the brim that were ahead of us. And for the whole afternoon, we threw ourselves into sharing and evaluating our practices, which we have done at home in our country since our last meeting in Luxembourg.
The second day was devoted to self-evaluation as an educator and evaluation of acquired competencies throughout the process. So, there was a series of self-evaluation, self-evaluation and reflection from others, and then an essay to guide others to knowledge. In the afternoon we devoted ourselves to the evaluation of e-learning, which we have been conscientiously fulfilling all at home online during the last year.
The following day was filled with preparations for workshops with pupils of a private school in Seoul. We could choose the age group and the topic, which was given in advance according to the scheme. I chose ninth grade pupils and the topic of sustainable lifestyle and problem solving. So we split into triplets and spent the whole day preparing our programs for the next day. Kashia and Carolina and I created a cooperative strategy game to collect raw materials in two teams, which took place in real time and on the floor of the classroom at school. We enjoyed the whole design process all of us, so we gave it to the whole day, apart from the whole day, with only food breaks.
We left the hostel very early to be in school early and ready to prepare everything. The school, even though it was a school holiday and was undergoing reconstruction, was still very luxurious. Touch panel in each class, many technical features. Only the classes were very small compared to ours. We had a maximum of fifteen children in each group, and yet we still had trouble getting into the classroom, and we moved half of the furniture into the hallway. And this is normally thirty in the classroom. At 9:30 the workshops of the first groups started. I participated in the one before us, which focused on water management and consumption. When pupils tried to simulate the negotiation of nations on drinking water consumption, and how the money has an impact on this process. And after a short break we started our workshop on raw materials. The pupils were very skilful, active and willing to participate. Also, their English was very good, which surprised us. Finally, we took a photo with all the pupils and went to the dining room to eat and hear the feedback from the teachers who were present at all the workshops.
In the afternoon we had time off, so I went to the centre with several other participants. First, we visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was the official seat of the regent at the time of his ruling duties. Here he accepted subjects and visits and the whole complex was very representative. And then we headed a few steps further to the Bukchon district, which boasts the typical architecture of timbered low houses still inhabited by locals. At dinner we all met together in a self-service dining room with meals from around the world. There were so many goodies we could choose that I went four times to taste it as much as I could.
On Thursday morning we devoted ourselves to evaluating the ongoing program with children at school and at the same time we were preparing for an afternoon conference. The conference was organized by our host organization Better World and some of our group had the opportunity to present their contribution on the inclusion of formal and non-formal education. In our free time we went for a real Korean dinner in the form of seafood and vegetable dumplings and then, as otherwise, karaoke. This is perhaps the most popular activity and content of the evening with friends or even alone. Koreans consider karaoke to be the most effective way to relieve stress, so you will often hear just singing on the street or through the window of a house.
But that was the last day of our seminar, and in addition to evaluating the conference, we also started to evaluate the whole year and a half long process. It wasn't easy to grasp the deep process in ourselves and discuss it with others at the same time, but we did it and invented many things that could be done again and better the next time. And of course, they also wondered if InFormal would continue. But that remains to be seen. So we closed everything in ourselves and formally and there was no other than to say goodbye and scarf at the closing party. And sing some karaoke…
I was lucky enough to stay in Korea for a few days after the project. The first day I visited the Changgyeonggung Palace with its secret gardens, but the place where the regent lived and lived and the beautiful Buddhist temple of Jogyesa. Then the next day I went with the other three courageous to the Bugaksan Mountains.
Here, after an hour-long climb, we finally reached the Cheonchuksa Temple, which became our home the next day. We took part in the Temple Stay event, during which it is possible to become a monk for a day and try their life here in the temple in the mountains. Upon our arrival, we received blue pants and a vest and had dinner with the others. In the evening there was an hour and a half prayer in the main temple, which included 108 thank-you bows. We still looked through the area in the dark, gazed briefly at the glowing Seoul below us, and went up early. At four o'clock the first morning service was held, before sunrise. At half past four we set out on a hike with the monk, who led us to a small summit above the temple, from where we watched the mountains awake from the haze. After returning to the temple we had breakfast and then free time. Most of us headed back into the mountains, humiliating the nearest possible peak of Sinseondae (730 m.n.m). If you imagine a beautiful walk through the forest, you are wrong. Practically all the way consists of many and many stairs due to the high slope. Both natural (rocks, wedged wood on the slope) and artificial (metal stairs). But it was definitely worth the sweat and effort. The view was breathtaking. After returning to the temple (in my case, even after a short wander, when I accidentally walked to another temple), another prayer and then lunch took place. We still said goodbye to our guide nun Seo An and slowly we went down to civilization.
I went with the Czech group to visit the fifth tallest tower in the world, the Lotte Tower and the famous Gangam district. And then we moved the KTX high-speed train (up to 250 km/h) to the eastern coastal town of Gangneung. There we stayed in a motel and went to dinner in the form of sashimi (raw fish) with vegetables. Even though we were late to sleep, we managed to get up at sunrise and stroll along the beach (which was not allowed to swim). In the morning we went to have breakfast overlooking the East Sea and also to buy favorite dried fish (we could even taste a few). We spent a few moments in the city center, but by then the bus went back to Seoul, because unfortunately my plane was not waiting for my friends.
But I still had one all day, so I went to a late dinner with a friend from Austria and looked at Dongdaemun. In the morning alone, I went to Namsan Park, where I visited the Namsan Tower. And in the afternoon I went to the open-air museum of the traditional village of Namsangol Hanok. On my way to the train station, I accidentally came across an open market called Myeondong, whose street food stalls were even inscribed on UNESCO's heritage.
And my one-day transfer in Dubai paid off. There was a hell of a hell of it (41°C), but it is truly a city of luxury and of the future (albeit a great tinsel and a kind of difference between the rich center and the almost desert edge). However, the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, is literally impressive. And other luxury buildings and streets, such as the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah sailing boat or the Palm Jumeirah artificial island, will make you feel inferior and fairy tale. On the other hand, just outside the city, you will find nothing but huge power stations supplying the whole complex with power, dilapidated small houses and sand as far as the eye can see. One day in this forge was really enough (I fully understand why the center has a huge six-floor shopping center, which is air-conditioned, and where perhaps all locals are hiding at noon), but on the other hand I have to be amazed and enchanted.
I would like to thank KURO Hradec Králové for the opportunity to participate in the whole project for your ongoing work and interest in each of us. The project wouldn't have happened without you. And also thank you for your support and willingness to pour all this knowledge into us, trainers Bogdy, Natalie and Jin Suo, without whom I would not come back home with so much new knowledge and skills. And I also thank the Erasmus+ program, without whose support I would not be able to participate in this adventure at all.
PS: And I ate the roasted silkworm larvae! And honestly, it's not that kind of goodness ... But instead of chips for television good. :)