Last month, Cenet participants Gahye Lee and Jiyeon Kim were selected among 136 leaders from around the globe to participate in a 5-day summit in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Global Pathfinder Summit (GPS) is an event hosted by 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution in partnership with the Presidential Precinct. The U.S. State Department was also involved in selecting 30 participants from private sector exchange programs to participate. The conference “explored new skills, knowledge, and perspectives that will enable participants to engage more effectively in civic affairs and improve the quality of life in their countries and communities through both political and nonpolitical processes.”
We were proud to sponsor the attendance of two of our own participants who traveled all the way from their Intern programs in Los Angeles to attend the conference. We caught up with Gahye and Jiyeon to learn more about their week in Virginia, and what they took away from the experience.
What is one thing that surprised you about GPS?
Jiyeon: One of the most touching things was the “Leadership of Democracy” lecture. Jane Addams was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States. The most important fact is that she was a leader with empathy. I want to be a person who can create a community where I can speak my voice and gather these opinions. I want to be a humble leader. So, this lecture was an opportunity to look around at my neighbors, understand their minds and pledge to be someone with that kind of leadership that gives them the strength to walk together.
Gahye: All of the sessions that GPS provided were really useful and impressive. The most interesting part is that GPS also provides many opportunities to have a conversation with speakers after sessions. During dinner, we would all eat together. Therefore, I could talk with many speakers (such as politicians, professors, directors, and CEOS) much more casually. For instance, at the garden party, I was able to share my opinions about democracy and how to enhance civic engagement with Ralph E. Gonsalves, who is Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines—but I also took a selfie with him!
Why do you believe it’s important for youth to be involved in their communities and government?
Gahye: Article 1 of the constitution of South Korea states that “the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea lies with the people, and all power comes from the people.”
Based on this principle, I strongly agree that people are the real power of the country and community. Young people especially have more influential power and potential for the future. Therefore, they have to recognize that individual good isn’t separate from public/community good. The reason why GPS provides this opportunity, is for young people to connect with each other globally to improve communities across the world.
How did GPS cause you to reflect on your own role as a leader?
Jiyeon: Looking back with Gahye, one thing I regretted was that even though I’m an intern at a media group, I didn’t care much for news except for the topics I was interested in. I’d like to pay attention more to various world news topics to broaden my horizons. I think I’ll need a lot of preparation for this. First, I want to keep studying English! I want to be able to speak my mind with confidence. When I return to Korea, I also want to be able to make the world better by continuing to improve my skills.
What is your favorite memory from your week at GPS?
Gahye: I have a special memory from an evening event called “Barbecue and Bluegrass,” which was on the last day of GPS. The first day of GPS, we did not know each other well so I felt a bit awkward. As time went by, we got to know each other and became real friends. We played games and taught our own cultural dances to each other. I still remember singing along to “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver, with our arms around each other’s shoulders. In that moment I felt that we are together.
What advice do you have for youth who are committed to making a difference in the world?
Jiyeon: Speak. In your voice.
If you have a good idea, but you never voice it, then it only remains a thought. It will never be realized. We can’t change this world by ourselves. Together, by connecting with each other and combining our ideas, we can change the world into our dreams.