#1. Hello to our Student Forums!
- Date 2022-04-18 08:00
Hello to our Student Forums!
This Spring, KDI School has six incredibly dynamic student forums representing its students’ diverse interests. In sharing their goals and plans for the year, there is a lot of insight not only into the various approaches but also leadership in action from our student body. The passion and commitment from the various representatives is palpable and we hope you learn and engage with the forums. This article focuses on the ASEAN Forum, the ADF and Women’s Leader Forum.
ASEAN Student Forum Representative - Tran Phuong Ngocc (Fall 2021, Vietnam)
The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Countries) Forum represents ASEAN students in KDI School and intends to build a strong community where ASEAN students can engage in dialogue around the economies, politics and social issues of their countries. It aims to raise awareness regarding cultural values through various activities and foster collaboration.
Tran, who took over from her Malaysian counterpart Rafee this year, is leading the Forum with a core team representing each of the 10 ASEAN countries, except for Singapore. The core team brings diversity and representation from each country while encouraging membership from said countries.
The activities that Tran and her team hope to accomplish are centred around helping ASEAN students connect as they have a backdrop of similar cultural values and can understand each other better. Tran was motivated to lead the Forum to strengthen interaction among students and ease the challenges of student life. Leading comes with challenges of course, and Tran has highlighted that it is difficult to get full engagement consistently as students have to balance activities with their studies. However, she is excited about some of the activities planned, like the Cultural Food Festival, the Cultural Show Contest open to all students, and engaging with the other student forums. “All our activities are meant to encourage student participation with not just ASEAN students but also with all KDI students,” she emphasised.
The Forum has also managed to host a virtual introduction meeting for new students and create a platform for them to meet as they settle into South Korea.
ADF Student Forum Representative - Collen Jonasi (Fall 2021, Zimbabwe)
The ADF (African Development Forum), one of the established Forums in KDI, is a council of African students promoting culture, uniting across differences, and enhancing cooperation and the overall experience of the African community at KDIS and alumni. As students, they have willingly decided to unite and form an association which unites them while in KDIS and help Africans to recognize each other in different matters associated with their common interest through economic, education, social, governance and cultural aspects.
Collen, who is President, has a Vice President, Secretary General, Treasurer and Program Officer assisting him at the helm. Chulu, his predecessor from Zambia, handed over leadership after elections, indicating that a democratic and fair system is a core tenet of the Forum. The ADF intends to host a variety of events this Spring with 2 fireside chats, 2 African focused discussion debates, and two soccer matches with Koreans and Cameroonians in South Korea if Covid 19 permits.
They have already hosted one online discussion and introduction meeting for new African students this semester.
The goal for Collen and his team is to enhance unity, be a voice, and improve the experience for Africans in KDIS. The focus is on enhancing interactions among members and preparing them for life after KDIS; through t its events, the African Forum encourages the application of knowledge from KDIS to make policy engagement tangible through synthesising practice and knowledge. Challenges include financial limitations that limit the Forum’s visibility and Covid-19 as a number of the in person events are on hold until the situation improves.
Despite these challenges, Collen shared his take on leadership by highlighting, “It is not easy; however, it is important to balance criticism and ideas and be objective about what the approach will be. I realise that I will not achieve anything meaningful if I focus on negatives and not on implementation.”
Women's Leaders Forum Representative - Vivian Landi Villares De Souza (Fall, 2021)
The Women's Forum was formed in the Fall Semester, and the core intention is to create a safe space for women. Through activities like Safe Talks, the forum facilitated discussions around experiences and feelings that women on campus face.
The Forum also creates this space in order to allow women to share what their experiences of the workplace are, dealing and acknowledging sexual harassment and the gendered perspectives of women in different contexts.
Vivian’s predecessor, Anna Karen from Mexico, formed the Forum in the last semester and had intentions of having an impact on women’s issues in KDIS. The Forum plans to continue having Safe Talks monthly. The Forum also celebrated International Women’s Month this year on social media through various activities in commemoration.
Moreover, the Forum is running a competition for all students to share their perspectives on what their thoughts on women’s leadership is through creative writing and art. The purpose of this competition is to not just engage with women’s issues from an intellectual standpoint but through a creative lens too. There is also a plan to build a database of women leaders across countries represented in KDIS.
During her term, Vivian would also like the Forum to connect with other Forums and discuss how they can all advance women's issues since it’s cross cutting institutionally.
Vivian says, “We would like to build a network and leverage on that network to push for women's representation and progress across all spheres of KDIS and beyond.” Vivian passionately articulated her desire to see the forum grow and bring institutional change beyond the classroom.
Hopefully, Covid regulations will allow them to host an outdoor yoga session and other leisure activities.
Challenges running the Forum are time constraints as students have to balance the forum events with other school commitments and also the commitment to ensure the Forum is intersectional in its representation. This is critical at all levels, be it race or culture, as the tendency can be to share singular perspectives.
While the Forum does not have a formal structure, the decentralised leadership and ownership over projects allows for more collaboration. However, the goal is to create more structure in the future.
Next article we will share the insights and learnings from three other forums. Watch out for Part Two!
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