As part of the build-up to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the last week of May 2017 saw the launch of the Peace Education Festival. This five-day event, on 27-31 May, has been jointly organised by the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee (POCOG) and the Gangwon Provincial Office of Education (GPOE).
Embracing the slogan “I Love Peace, I am a Peace Maker”, the festival aims to support and educate young people in their efforts to engage in meaningful dialogues and initiatives that can help make the world a more peaceful place and enable them to develop a better understanding of Olympic and Paralympic values.
As part of the festival, over 400 schoolchildren and teachers from seven countries – the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and the Philippines have been invited to participate in a variety of activities in the city of Gangneung.
The programme kicked off with a lecture on the topic of the Olympic and Paralympic values and the Olympic Truce. Students then broke into smaller groups to visit the six different zones of the festival: the Sitting Volleyball Zone, the Boccia Zone, the Field Hockey Zone, the 5-a-side Football Zone, the Pipeline Teambuilding Zone, and the PyeongChang 2018 Education Zone.
The last of these harnesses the latest in virtual reality technology to provide students with the opportunity to experience different Winter Olympic and Paralympic sports including ice hockey, wheelchair curling and ski jumping.
Cultural activities also form a major part of the festival, and the participants have been able to enjoy a wide variety of performances, try their hand at making traditional Korean items, and get to grips with the rudiments of the Korean language.
The activities were a huge success with the participants. “Through this programme, I have learned that sport is not about winning, but having fun and meeting new friends,” commented, Chen Silin, 14-year-old school pupil from Changchun Foreign Language School in China. “It was also great to meet students and teachers from so many different countries and meet through sport.”
Through this programme, I have learned that sport is not about winning, but having fun and meeting new friends14-year-old Chen Silin
Meanwhile, Marion Christopher, a teacher at the Don Eulogio De Guzman Memorial National High School in the Philippines described the event as “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for her pupils.
“We hope that through the range of programmes and activities at our Peace Education Festival, students from across Asia will not only get a chance to experience winter sports ahead of PyeongChang 2018, but that they will also forge friendships through the values of sports and peace,” reflected POCOG President Lee Hee-beom.
On the penultimate day of the festival, the POCOG President joined the participants in a “peace walk” along the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) of the city of Goseong.
The students wrote down words, phrases and drew pictures about ‘peace’ in their native language on 13 sections of the traditional Korean paper, “hanji”, to create a 239 meter peace banner, representing the 239 kilometers of the DMZ, which they then carried during the walk.
“These students are the next generation of leaders in our world. Through this symbolic peace walk, we hope that they were able to understand the significance of peace and unity and continue to carry this message with them in all that they do in life,” commented Lee.