Once admitted as KOV, they will take orientation trainings including local language learning course as if they stay in University environment. Instructors invited come from various fields of expertise. Local language instructors are, in most cases, from respective countries to which KOICA dispatches KOVs. Language of local language instruction is English. :-(
I attended an Amharic course at the same place, nine years ago!
It is an annual event to welcome successors returned back to Korea this season from overseas where they served as a KOV. Predecessors join together to speak high of their sacrifice as well as to congratulate on safe return with invaluable experience accumulated during their voluntary operations. In this way, the party can give us a great chance to understand diversified cultures one another simply by saying which county they were dispatched to, what they did as a volunteer, how they survived harsh living condition, whoever they collaborated with, and more.
Of course, everybody could feel great joy from the party. In addition to that happiness generated from an ordinary party organization, regional music performances triggered the rise of homesickness to attendance. African music performance out of them (I could not get the synopsis of the dance, the origin of the song, and the theme as a whole, however) aroused remembrance in Ethiopia. Regardless of my feeling based on affinity with African continent, everybody could be absorbed in dynamic and powerful rhythm from the performance. The more exposed to another culture like this, we can expand our life view wider. It's one of virtues of diversity!
Recollecting what I had done as a Korea Overseas Volunteer (KOV) in Ethiopia,
I still wonder what the true volunteerism is.
I redefined my volunteerism into "technical cooperation" in the article
from KOV category of this blog because spiritual understanding
in grass root level was missing.
Specifically speaking, I was always busy in preparation of network with cutting edge technology, training materials,
reports to the Ministry and KOICA regional office,
and any other tangible matters only.
At the end of stay in Ethiopia, only thing that I could do was just to keep unforgettable memory with Ethiopian around my residence.
If I revisit Ethiopia as a volunteer, I will be able to behave in different way by devoting myself
to understanding existing Ethiopian cultures as they are now.
However, will my revisit happen? Of course, not!
Whenever I read articles from "One Love Theater/Blog",
I can imagine what and how the volunteers there are doing in Awassa with the spirits that I should have shared with colleagues from the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia. Look up article from this link!
At last, we've got together in Seoul! I and junior Korea Overseas Volunteers (KOVs) had a good time by talking about something Ethiopian and their experience from there. It passed nearly six years since my return to Korea. What I had known about Ethiopia varied from what they told me. According to their comments, Ethiopia is growing in its economy. The sign of economic expansion was the boom of construction and civil engineering. Regardless of what is going on in Ethiopia, gathering together made me very happy by itself!
During my stay in Ethiopia as Korea Overseas Volunteer, we KOV and Japan Overseas Cooperative Volunteer (JOCV) members had a regular sports event apart from daily and private friendship exchange in their duty stations. Staffs from Embassies and regional offices were also welcomed. We approached one another by playing bowling and softball game. However, I have no more contact with them upon my return to Korea. Maybe, others, either. :( I wonder what they are doing in Korea, in Japan, or overseas where they live.
The word "volunteer" from Korea Overseas Volunteer, itself, implies sacrifice innately. When it comes to engineering, my volunteering should be considered as technical cooperation, I think. Enumerating what I did at that time, I repeated introducing new technology, persuading its implementation, making MOE staffs understood from training, following up progress, and discussing issues to escape from stalemate that most of KOVs were prone to encounter in the middle of cooperation. That's it! Interacting with local staffs was the very virtue of volunteerism.
I returned back to Korea, November 2001. My juniors took over duties and are still managing their KOV operations very well. Refer to this link for more details. Photos below are snapshots taken while staying there (years of 1999 ~ 2001)