KEI at the Yeosu Expo
August 16, 2012
KEI was invited by the USA Pavilion (USAP) to facilitate its Six Party Talks simulations and provide a career panel discussion for USAP Student Ambassadors and International Pavilion staff at the 2012 Yeosu Expo.
KEI has been an advisor and sponsor to the group that is partnering with the U.S. Department of State to run the USA Pavilion at the Yeosu Expo. This trip was an opportunity for KEI staff to see the USA Pavilion running during the Expo and help the USA Pavilion leadership provide a valuable learning opportunity for the student ambassadors involved with the Expo.
On Monday, July 23, KEI facilitated two sessions of its Six Party Talks simulations. Nicholas Hamisevicz, Director of Research and Academic Affairs, and Linda Kim, Director of Programs, ran the simulations for the student ambassadors. In the morning session, 24 student ambassadors participated in the simulation. Students working for different pavilions along with many student ambassadors from the USA pavilion enthusiastically played their roles well. In the afternoon session, 12 student ambassadors and pavilion staff members took part in the simulations. Andrew Snowhite, CEO of the USA Pavilion, mentioned to the second group of simulation participants in the afternoon that he and Philippe Cousteau, Chief Spokesperson for the USA Pavilion, are big proponents of simulation learning, which is a major reason why they invited KEI out to Yeosu to do the simulation. Overall, students from the United States, South Korea, China, Pakistan, Denmark, Mexico, Russia, and Switzerland were involved in the simulations.
Many of the participants were enthusiastic about their experience. Often the student ambassadors came to know South Korea through cultural exchanges, so they were pleased to get some insight i
nto the geopolitical issues surrounding the Korean peninsula. Multiple students expressed their appreciation to KEI for first allowing them to work through the simulation and then to connect the experiences they had in the simulation with the current dynamics between the countries involved in the six party process. Lastly, some of the students commented on having a greater appreciation for the difficulty the governments face in dealing with North Korea, especially the governments of South Korea and the United States.
On Tuesday, July 24, KEI hosted a career panel discussion for the student ambassadors working at the USA pavilion. Virginia Gum, Director of Government Affairs for the National Mining Association, joined Nicholas Hamisevicz and Linda Kim from KEI for the talk. The three panelists described their career experiences and offered some advice on how to be a young professional. The student ambassadors seemed appreciative of the presentation because it helped demonstrate other job paths to working on Korea and Asia issues, and in particular, working on Capitol Hill or in think-tanks. The discussion continued into lunch as many of the student ambassadors asked individual follow-up questions to each of the panelists.
Nicholas Hamisevicz’s Quick Thoughts on the Yeosu Expo Experience
It was an incredible experience to visit the Yeosu Expo and interact with the USA Pavilion and visit numerous other pavilions at the Expo. South Korea had the difficult task of following the Expo in Shanghai, China. However, the focused theme of ocean and the coasts, with many pavilions smartly connecting the themes to water and the environment, helped differentiate the Yeosu Expo from the previous one. Moreover, South Korea was able to take people beyond places like Seoul, Busan, or Daegu, cities that are often called upon to host international events, and showcase another city in Yeosu.
For geopolitical analysts, one can see the soft power impact of a successful expo and country pavilion. Pavilions try to create a positive experience for each guest, hoping the connection will continue in future interactions between two countries. A truly impressive display of soft power is having students and citizens speaking multiple languages, welcoming and guiding guests through each pavilion. The USA Pavilion has about 40 student ambassadors who speak incredible Korean leading people through the pavilion or helping them at the gift shop. One hopes these students continue using their language and that those who interact with them realize and appreciate their efforts to learn and speak Korean, creating a longer term positive interaction between the United States, South Korea, and many other nations.
Yet the Yeosu Expo had the characteristics needed to satisfy a regular tourist or someone solely focused on enjoying the experience as well. Overall, there were many fascinating pavilions that connect other countries to South Korea and to the themes of oceans, coasts, and water, often in a clever, fun, and interactive way. Add in cultural performances, great international food, and meeting new people from around the world, the Yeosu Expo can provide that positively joyful feeling of engaging with new cultures and people. And we were only there two days.