Wednesday, August 10, 2016

UAF Graduate Student Participates in Korea Arctic Academy

By Liz Bowman

Participants of the July 2016 Korea Arctic Academy, a study program that brought together students from Korean universities and from UArctic member institutions. (photo courtesy Liz Bowman)

My name is Liz Bowman, and I am a graduate student in the Arctic and Northern Studies program. I am working on my Masters and focus on Arctic policy. Within policy, I am interested in discovering the motivations of non-Arctic states to participate in Arctic affairs. This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd Korea Arctic Academy (KAA) hosted by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, and organized by UArctic and Korea Maritime Institute. This academy brought together 29 students (19 from Arctic states, 10 from Korea) to discuss the Arctic from our perspectives, as well as learn about what Korea is doing in the Arctic context. It is hard to do this experience justice with a blog post, but I will do my best to convey how rewarding my time in Korea was, and what impacts it will have on my future studies.

Building within the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.
(photo courtesy Liz Bowman)
Korea cares deeply about the Arctic and the implications that a changing Arctic climate has on others. It is because of this, and other reasons, that students from the North were invited to participate in the program. Beyond learning about Korea’s positions on a variety of Arctic issues, I was able to experience the hospitality, kindness, and unique culture of the Korean people. Perhaps the most significant thing about the KAA program was that it truly was an opportunity to create friendships, partnerships, and foster mutual understanding between those from the Arctic region and Korea.

In my conversations with Korean students, I learned that many are curious about maritime issues, warming Arctic temperatures, and what everyday life is like for many of the Arctic students. I found it equally as valuable to connect with others from the Arctic, many coming from indigenous communities, that were willing to share their traditional knowledge with us so we had a better understanding of our own region.

Liz Bowman (second archer from the right) learns traditional Korean archery while wearing  a traditional outfit during the 2nd Korea Arctic Academy. (photo courtesy Liz Bowman)
Please don’t think that the KAA was only hard work. In addition to lectures about policy, science, and the future of the Arctic, we also learned about Korean culture. I was able to participate in traditional Korean archery, sing K-Pop karaoke, and eat more kimchi in a few days then I had ever eaten in my lifetime.

Although the program was short, only 10 days, I have so many valuable experiences to draw upon as I move forward with my degree program at UAF. I now have valuable connections with Korean students and faculty who are interested in sharing their thoughts about a global Arctic, one that includes all those who are interested in the future of the North, not just those who are geographically located there. I can use my experience in Korea to support my ideas about non-Arctic states in the Arctic context and how the Arctic can continue to be a place of cooperation. It is hard to express my gratitude for the Korean Maritime Institute and UArctic for hosting such a rewarding academy. It is my hope that other UAF students will want to participate in this program in future years and learn about what the rest of the world thinks of our backyard.

1 comment:

  1. Good program - I'm also proud for my daughter Elise Olsen - she was there too.