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  -  Education   -  North Asia Education   -  NZ educators strengthen connections with South Korea

27 November 2023

In October, a delegation of NZ educators flew out to Korea to take part in the 2023 Korean Study Tour, a unique collaborative initiative jointly organised and sponsored by NA CAPE and the Korean Education Centre. The team touched down back in Aotearoa on Thursday morning – changed and enriched by their experiences.

With an emphasis on creating and enhancing connections, the group spent their first two days in Seoul at the UNESCO-APCEIU International Conference on Global Citizenship Education which focused on exploring GCED as “transformative learning for critical empowerment”.

The threads of tuakiritanga (identity), hononga (connections) and kaitiakitanga (responsibility) were woven through the following days as the group toured Seoul, Gyeongju and Busan, gaining historical, cultural and linguistic insights into Korea and its people.

Kyunghee University, the main host of the tour, crafted a comprehensive itinerary that facilitated an experience of Korea’s past, present and future. The tour included, among others, visits to Gyeongbok palace, Hyundai motors and UNESCO heritage sites located in what used to be Korea’s former capital in the Joseon dynasty, Silla.

The group also visited the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan and paid respects to New Zealand soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Korean war. Led by Campbell Dewes, timuaki from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti, a tribute was offered with the delegation reciting the ode to the fallen in Te Reo Maori and English then closing with a karakia and waiata.

This was a moving reminder of the lasting connection between South Korea and Aotearoa, forged as a result of New Zealand’s support during the Korean War. This also reinforced a sense of solidarity and duty as members of a global community.

Historical connections aside, the delegates likewise explored opportunities for enhancing educational exchanges between New Zealand and South Korean schools, especially during the classroom visits and campus tours at Kyunghee University, Kyunghee High School and Busan Maritime High School.

The tour closed off with a visit to the residence of New Zealand Ambassador Dawn Benett in Seoul, where the delegation performed the song Pokarekare Ana in both Te Reo Maori and Korean.

Albeit brief, the experience fostered among educators greater knowledge and confidence, opening up new pathways for connecting New Zealand and South Korea especially in the realms of education and global citizenship.

[Acknowledgments: Korean Educator Centre, Ministry of Tourism and Kyunghee University]