Farewell to Programme Assistant, Seoyun Kang

In the words of Seoyun Kang

“Working at the EAAFP Secretariat taught and trained me not only with the basic administrative skills but also provided me valuable networking experience, enhanced my project management ability, and taught me the need for specific ecological conservation. Entrusted with several projects including the 2021 EAAFP Small Grant Fund (SGF) for Work Group and Task Forces and a webinar on the development of a joint inventory of the status of migratory birds in the West/Yellow Sea, I was able to work together with many people from diverse backgrounds and actively communicate with the partners and overseas government focal points.

For me, leading the webinar on the development of a joint inventory of the status of migratory birds in the West/Yellow Sea, a webinar devised to bring three countries (ROK, DPRK, China) together at a table and discuss their conservation status as well as their future plans, is especially memorable. As the main coordinator of the project, I devised the event from the scratch, worked on its concept note, created promotional flyers and website for effective promotion, communicated with the potential speakers and panelists, set up minor to major logistics of the online event, participated in the budget planning and making contracts for further payment, created necessary materials for the webinar and leading the after-event follow-up actions.

The progress was extremely hectic, but at the same time, it greatly increased my working ability. In a short period, it enabled me to develop my management, accounting, marketing, and communication ability. Moreover, I was able to learn how the three neighboring countries can cooperate in the future for sustainable development of the West/Yellow Sea region. The webinar (open to government officials and EAAF Partners only) ended successfully, with the registration of 150 people and 110 participants in total.

This also was one of the visualized outcomes of the conservation efforts, to connect the countries and sites around the world with the same objective and passion. Seeing how Far Eastern Curlew provided global connection, made the countries come together at the same table and discuss the present and future conservation actions, I truly was inspired. Throughout the internship period, I surely learned how migratory birds connect people, communities, and countries, as well as the entire ecosystem.

As a student studying Conflict Analysis and Resolution, I myself often insightfully analyzed the experiences at the Secretariat from a ‘conflict scholar’ perspective. Experiencing the conflicts that environmental organization deals with by skin was extremely interesting and allowed me valuable hands-on experience. Natural Resource Conflicts, defined as disagreements and disputes over access to, control, and use of, natural resources, often emerge because people have different uses for resources or want to manage them in different ways. And in fact, during the internship, I participated in a meeting with relative parties of the Hwaseong Wetlands Ramsar designation project and experienced Natural Resource Conflicts. Relevant parties had an argument during a meeting because two different plans to utilize the selected areas collided, whether to leave some space for development or to keep all the selected areas for conservation.

Moreover, seeing how EAAFP is fostering positive interaction with DPRK via nonpolitical subjects such as environment and migratory waterbirds, I was reminded of Contact Theory (Allport, 1954). Contact theory claims that contact between two groups can reduce prejudice and conflict between the groups and promote tolerance and acceptance. Constant contacts on nonpolitical, yet constructive subjects would leave good precedents the two parties can look back to and build trust – which later, I believe, can be an opening channel for more in-depth conversation and be another step to peace in the peninsula.

The fruitful 6-month internship experience not only helped me to enhance my working ability in diverse aspects but also provided me valuable hands-on experience and networks which I will never forget. It also allowed me to develop my insight as a conflict scholar within an environmental organization, and most of all taught me the importance of migratory waterbirds and their ecological connectivity with nature and humans.”

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